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Senator Durbin's Office Occupied in Protest Against War on Gaza

by staff |
January 22, 2009
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Chicago, IL - Fifteen opponents of the Israeli siege on Gaza entered the Federal Building here, Jan. 16, and executed a sit-in at the offices of Senator Dick Durbin. Durbin had co-sponsored a resolution that gave the green light to Israel to continue the attack on Palestinians.

The delegation included members of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 8th Day Center for Justice, Francis of Assisi House Catholic Worker, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Palestine Solidarity Group, and Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm. The protesters were demanding a meeting with Durbin and that he take steps to stop Israel’s murderous campaign.

A letter delivered to Senator Durbin by the activists stated, “By not calling for a halt to the violence and by arming Israel, United States officials are aiding and abetting war crimes…We call upon the U.S. to demand that Israel immediately withdraw from the Gaza Strip and end its bombardment of the occupied territory and urge Senator Durbin to initiate a binding vote to that effect.”

Durbin’s staff would only offer a follow-up meeting with other staff, and no commitment to helping stop Israel’s war. In response, ten of the protestors refused to leave and were arrested several hours later. Four of them were carried out by the police. The ten were charged with being ‘non compliant with the directions of a federal officer.’

Among those arrested was a Palestinian woman, Manal Farhan, who told Fight Back!, “We turned up the volume on these demands. I am hopeful that this action has encouraged others to push for an end to the siege on Gaza, to get all Israeli troops out and to stop U.S. aid to Israel.”

The previous day, Jan. 15, the Palestine Solidarity Group picketed Mayor Daley at a breakfast for the Chicago Sister City International program, demanding an end to Chicago’s sister city relationship with Petach Tikva. Petach Tikva, the first Jewish-only settlement in Palestine, was established before the founding the Israel state, on land owned by Palestinians from a village called Mlabbes. Mlabbes was subsequently wiped off the map.

Chicago police threw protesters out of the hotel where the event was held, so they picketed outside for 30 minutes, where the temperature was -40˚ F. Hatem Abudayyeh of the Palestine Solidarity Group remarked, “With the invasion of Gaza, the Sister City program with Israel has become a target for a campaign of boycott and sanctions. We don’t want our city’s resources supporting Israel’s illegal occupation and the killing of Palestinian civilians.”