Massive Antiwar Demonstration in San Francisco Exceeds All Predictions
By Carole Seligman
Organizers had hoped that at least 10,000 would march on April 20 against war, poverty and racism. But Israeli military assaults against Palestinian civilians in the Jenin refugee camp, Ramallah, Bethlehem and throughout occupied Palestine brought tens of thousands more horrified Americans into the streets in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.
Knowing that the Israeli brutalities were carried out with the full support and financial backing of the United States government brought new participants out in massive numbers. Estimates of the San Francisco march by the organizers were conservative at 35,000. Even the daily Hearst newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicles banner headline the next day said that at least 20,000 marched.
The participants were jubilant. This was the first opportunity to say NO to the War on Terrorism and the governments perspective of endless war around the world. It was the first opportunity to differentiate from the media-induced perception that Bushs war policies enjoy broad support from the population as a whole. Like the Washington demonstration, the San Francisco event was diverse and included thousands of Palestinians carrying all sizes of Palestinian flags. The
International Longshore Workers Unions drill team decked in pressed uniforms and white gloves led the two-mile march.
The demonstration organizers, A.N.S.W.E.R., had distributed over 100,000 flyers and posters for the demonstration and received endorsements from most social justice groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
The demonstration was a magnificent antiwar action of historic importance for the building of the kind of massive opposition that can bring this war to an end. The only criticism that I would make is to remind the organizers that Bush and his administration are not the only ones responsible for this war. The U.S. Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and both political parties of U.S. capitalismthe Democrats and the Republicansmust share the responsibility. They support the war, give massive support to Israel, and vote the funds to pay for it. The antiwar movement should oppose the U.S. governments war policy as a whole and not look for lesser evils within the Democratic Party. Doing so only lets the perpetrators off the hook and prevents a clear-minded understanding of what has to be done.
The following is the 3-minutes speech by one of Socialist Viewpoints editors, Carole Seligman, at the San Francisco antiwar rally on April 20th, 2002.
The Israeli government calls it defense against the terrorist infra-structure. We call it mass murder.
Americas ally is burying whole families alive under mountains of rubble and calling it operation defensive shield. What the Nazis did to the Jews does not give Israelis the right to massacre Palestinians!
And our taxes are paying for this assault! But, Bush hails the butcher Ariel Sharon, as a man of peace.
The media lie to us. They equate Palestinian resistance to Israeli bulldozing of homes, using human shields, bombing civilians, shooting ambulances, denying the victims even the right to gather and bury their dead.
This is the face of the U.S. so-called War on Terrorism. Lets call it by its true name: This is a war against the poor! Its a war against childrenin Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.
What are U.S. interests in the Middle East? Our government is the military broker for the oil companies to bring oil under their control.
What the companies and the U.S. want is oil so they supply heavy weapons and allow the nuclear arming of Israel.
This war is part and parcel of the U.S. strategy to preserve a social system of profit for the few and misery for the many. Do you know that the three richest people in the world have assets equal to the Gross Domestic Product of the 48 poorest countries combined?
To hide such facts, the media lie. How can our government justify the decimation of a refugee camp and mass murder in the name of oil profits?
They cant, so they call it the War on Terrorism.
The War on Terrorism is for the rich. You and I have nothing in common with them. Americans want the same things as working people the world over. We have no reason to support Israels murder of Palestinians. This criminal terror by Israel and America does nothing to help the Jewish people!
Today we are part of a massive, international movement to stop Israeli aggression and stop U.S. aid to Israel. Today is only the beginning of our struggle to end U.S. wars and nuclear threats. By mobilizing millions, we stopped the Vietnam War and we can stop this one! Tens of thousands are marching in Washington. Hundreds of thousands have marched in cities throughout the world. We here join in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and Sisters. We demand:
No U.S. Aid to Israel! Stop the bombing of Afghanistan! Stop the War!