The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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In discussions with participants and local organizers of April 20th we have noted a wide variety of individual experiences. As a group specifically oriented toward solidarity with the Iraqi people we chose the ANSWER rally site to begin the march. They clearly and explicitly condemned Washington's war on Iraq as a central slogan. The assembly was characterized by the predominance of US Arab and Muslim communities mobilized in support of Palestine. For those who have suffered through relatively small gatherings in response to the monumental developments in the past months, it felt great to be among tens of thousands standing for the embattled Palestinian people. Amidst the varied issues and demands of the march we considered it essential, as an organization, to literally raise the banner of Iraq. Our prime objective for the day was to maintain the huge (5'X12') NO US WAR ON IRAQ! END UN SANCTIONS banner and rigging. Overall we got a good but varied reception. Upon setting up the banner a middle-aged Arab-American man skeptically read our banner then remarked emphatically with a slight accent 'THAT is the best banner here.' Many gave us an enthusiastic thumbs-up, while others read our banner with interest but without comment. I felt a certain ambivalence by some on the issue of Iraq. The association with Saddam Hussein is seen by some as the last thing the Palestinians need at this time. During the preceding week the US administration justified its support to Israel with the sensational "revelations" of Iraq and Iran funding Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. Then someone would simply thank us, and others engaged us in discussions on Iraq. After one such discussion Ali, an Egyptian-born school teacher offered to help hold the banner. When the march ended four hours later Ali would finally relinquish his half of the heavy load. Without any intention there always seemed to be steady rhythms of lively chants around us. This was especially helpful when lugging the huge rigging and sail through gusts of wind and surging crowds. As the march proceeded we came in contact with other contingents. At one point, a roving group of Arab young men checked out the banner and improvised a series of chants against the US war on Iraq. The most interesting combinations were the groups of Muslim women in chadors mixing it up with the anti-Globalism youth with their piercings and tattoos. And yes, they could both join in a single voice to demand an end to Israel's war and condemn US support. Heh-Heh, Ho-ho the Occupation's Got to Go! -was particularly effective at crossing the cultural divide. At the end of the march we ran into a few of our son's high-school friends. They were completely amazed and impressed. They had come down with one of the kid's mother to what they thought was to be a "peace" march. They did not expect more than seventy five thousand supporters of Palestinian rights to be in the streets of Washington D.C. Bob Allen Campaign to End the Sanctions Philadelphia PA _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk