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Jacksonville rallies against Ehud Barak

By Fernando Figueroa |
October 7, 2015
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Jacksonville protest against the the visit of Israeli war criminal Ehud  Barak.
Jacksonville protest against the the visit of Israeli war criminal Ehud Barak. (Jameel Akel)

Jacksonville, FL - About 25 people gathered in front of the Florida Times Union Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 5 to protest the visit of Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel. Barak is a war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of Palestinians.

A dozen Palestinian Americans attended the event, along with several members of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition and other groups. Participants rallied and chanted for over three hours before, during and after Ehud Barak's speaking engagement. The chants included “Ehud Barak, shame on you, kids are dead because of you!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

After the speaking event was over, about 300 attendees walked to their cars while listening to protesters chant. A few attendees tried to provoke the protesters into confrontations, but the protesters continued chanting. One of the attendees called the protesters “terrorists,” and the protesters responded by chanting “Israel is a terror state!” and “Down with Zionism!”

Almost all of the attendees leaving the event looked very wealthy and drove expensive cars. It was clear that the elite supported Ehud Barak because he represented the interests of the 1%, and the everyday working class people protesting outside the event understood that they were on the same side as the Palestinians, the side of the 99%.

Ansar Owais, a Palestinian American living in Jacksonville who initiated the call for the event said, “I believe it is important to protest speakers like former Prime Minister Barak because his actions resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and the further oppression of the Palestinian people. Barak is presented as a moderate in Israeli politics, but under his watch the settlements continued to grow and illegal operations and weapons were used in the West Bank and especially Gaza.”

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