On Friday about 300 Palestinian Americans and supporters held a rally near the Ohio Statehouse to protest Israel's air strikes and ground invasion of Gaza. The rally was a follow-up to a demonstration held downtown on July 19.
"We're here because we are all ashamed that children are being bombed in their sleep," said Bilal El-Yousseph. "Israelis are hiding behind towers and fortified walls while Gaza is under siege."
"We are not Muslim, or Jewish, or Christian, or atheist," said Cynthia Ubaldo. "Today we are one people, one voice. The people of Palestine are suffering. It's time for all of us to take up their struggle." She led the assembly in several chants.
"Nelson Mandela once said, 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.' We must educate ourselves first," Ubaldo said. "Read and watch reports from both sides of the situation. When confronted by a supporter of the opposition, we must know his or her point of view, and calmly explain ours. By educating them, change can happen one person and one voice at a time."
"Every day eight million of our tax dollars go to Israel, said Sami Eddauod. "Since 1948, America has given $112 billion to this state. Over 100,000 Palestinians are displaced from their homes right now. 6,500 people have been injured by Israeli air strikes in one month. 1,400 did not make it.
"This is not an issue of race, or ethnicity, or religion," Eddauod said. "America underwent integration. It was segregated, just like Israel is now, as an apartheid state."
The rally began at the northeast corner of Broad at High Streets, in front of Channel 10 News. Then the protesters crossed Broad Street and stood on the north side of the Statehouse. Several dozen Columbus Police officers were on hand.
"I want to live in peace," said Maria Khalil of Hilliard. "I want to be able to go back to Palestine without having to sit at the border for three hours, without being interrogated about why I want to go there.
"We are not against the Jews," Khalil said. "They are our brothers. We are not here for any other reason than for humanity."
Another rally is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 17, at a location yet to be determined. "The Columbus Dispatch asked us when we would stop having rallies," said organizer Reema Al-Waridat. "We answered, 'When the Palestinians stop losing their lives.'"