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About 1,000 protest Israel, U.S. in Dearborn
By BEN LEUBSDORF, Associated Press Writer

DEARBORN (AP): Waving Palestinian flags and shouting slogans, close to a thousand Arab-Americans and others marched through the Detroit suburb of Dearborn on Dec. 30, 2008 evening to protest Israeli military strikes against the Gaza Strip.

The peaceful and orderly protesters braved 30-degree weather and filled eight blocks of a major thoroughfare in Dearborn, widely seen as the heart of Arab-America with its many mosques and scores of Arabic-signed businesses.

Pro-Palestine march and rally in Toledo
on Jan. 2, 2009

Southeastern Michigan is home to around 300,000 people with roots in the Arab world, the result of more than a century of immigration.

Since Monday, over 430 Palestinians have died since the Israeli air onslaught against Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers. According to Israel, most of the dead were members of Hamas security forces but the United Nations says at least 64 civilians have been killed.

These numbers compare to four (4) Israelis having been killed by Palestinian rockets.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27, 2008, in response to rocket fire by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli offensive came shortly after a rocky, six-month truce expired. Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israel before and during the Israeli offensive.

Many in Dearborn said they marched to show solidarity with the Palestinians under siege and to protest U.S. support for the Jewish state.

Monir Nasralah of Dearborn said he marched to protest ``the aggression and the use of excessive force'' by Israel in Gaza.

``These are nothing but terrorist acts,'' said the 43-year-old autoworker.

One group of protesters carried a mock coffin decorated with pictures of dead and injured Arab children and labeled ``U.S. Tax Dollars at Work'' and ``Victims of Zionism.''

``It's good to see the whole world turn out'' to protest Israeli actions, said 20-year-old Trent Carl of Houston, who was visiting friends in the area and acted as a pallbearer for the PVC-pipe-and-cardboard coffin.

Some marchers chanted, ``Gaza, Gaza don't cry, Palestine will never die'' and ``Israel is a terrorist state.''

Others chanted, in Arabic, ``God is Great'' and ``a martyr is beloved of God.'' At one point, a homemade Israeli flag lay crumbled on the sidewalk as some marchers stomped on its torn pieces.

One protester carried a sign saying, ``Dearborn, take your shoes off!'' a reference to the action of an Iraqi protester who threw shoes at George W. Bush during the president's recent visit to Iraq.

The protest was organized by the Congress of Arab American Organizations. Group spokesman Osama Siblani, who is also publisher of the Arab-American News, said it was the first in a series of actions being planned to respond to the Gaza fighting. A candlelight vigil was also held Jan. 2, 2009 in Dearborn.

``There is disappointment and anger in our community and we need to express it toward the current U.S. administration that has given a blank check to the Israelis,'' Siblani said.

About 50 people gathered Tuesday on the University of Michigan-Flint campus to protest the Israeli attacks, The Flint Journal reported. ``When you see injustice you have to stand against it, no matter where it is,'' said Abed Khirfan of Flushing, who said his daughter attends UM-Flint.

In Dearborn, 21-year-old Mohammed Cherri said he marched hoping to help change U.S. policy that arms the Israeli military.

But even if U.S. policy doesn't change anytime soon, the Dearborn man said he hopes Palestinians in Gaza will know he and others stand with them.

``If we can't support them with any other means, then we will support them with our voices, with our stance out here in the cold,'' Cherri said.

About 200 people gathered in Toledo on Jan. 2, 2009, protesting the actions of Israel and its assault on the Gaza Strip.

Rico de La Prensa contributed to this report.





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