Saudi Intellectuals Say U.S. And Israel Are Axis Of Evil
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) 04/21/2002 - A group of Saudi intellectuals
and writers has condemned the United States and Israel and described
them as the axis of evil in the world - borrowing a phrase U.S.
President George Bush has used for Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
The 113 Saudis, some of them prominent writers for respected Saudi
papers, said the American role in the Israeli military operation
against the Palestinians was "shameful" and said the "Israeli
massacres do not differ in shape or form from what the Nazis did."
The writers called in a statement released Saturday on all Arab
governments to severe diplomatic, political and economic ties with
Israel and urged Arabs to boycott all American products.
"We consider the United States and the current American administration
the nurturer of international terrorism with distinction and it, along
with Israel, form the axis of terrorism and evil in the world," said
The statement said Arab governments should take "serious and
steps ... and apply all means of pressure on the American
to make it feel that its huge interests in the Arab region are
It said failure to do so will lead to "national disasters that will
Among the signatories were a writer for the widely respected Al-Hayat
and a former undersecretary of the Saudi Interior Ministry.
The statement comes at a time when anti-American sentiment is at a
high level over what Arabs see as U.S. support for Israel in the
conflict with the Palestinians.
On Friday, the chief cleric of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheik Abdul
Rahman al-Sudais, called on the Arabs to abandon peace efforts with
Israel because they were "impossible."
Al-Sudais said Arabs should bid farewell to peace with the Jews, whom
he described as "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world,
the killers of prophets and the grandsons of monkeys and pigs."
He called on Muslims to stand with the Palestinians financially and
in kind, saying that peace with Israel was futile because it only
"accepts liquidating its opponent, taking over his land, making his
people homeless and canceling his dignity. They want the state of
Greater Israel. They want to eliminate the nation of one God and the
* * *
Gulf Papers Dismiss UN Fact-Finding Mission To Jenin As Waste Of Time
DUBAI, April 21 (AFP) - Gulf and Iraqi newspapers Sunday dismissed
the UN Security Council's decision to send a fact-finding mission
to the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin as a waste of time, saying
the facts speak for themselves.
"The Arab world can do without further deceit and waste of time,"
said Saudi Arabia's Al-Bilad.
"The world witnessed a genocide against the Palestinian people,"
the paper said, referring to Palestinian charges that Israeli
troops carried out a "massacre" in Jenin.
The Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution to
send a fact-finding mission "to establish the facts" of what happened
in the West Bank camp.
The Palestinians are calling the Israeli army operation a "massacre"
which killed hundreds of people, an accusation rejected by Israel
which has said it was a battle in which "about 50" Palestinians and
23 Israeli soldiers were killed.
"With every new decision it takes, the Security Council confirms that
it is no more than an (instrument) for protecting Western and Israeli
interests," Al-Bilad charged.
Okaz, another Saudi daily, deplored Washington's "contradictory
attitude" toward UN attempts to investigate the "crimes" perpetrated
in the Jenin camp, which "are not a secret anyway."
Under the headline "The facts don't need to be established," Baghdad's
Al-Iraq accused Washington of trying to "cover up its total alignment"
with Israel by agreeing to the dispatch of a UN mission to Jenin.
The Security Council voted to send the team "after Zionist forces had
accomplished their abhorrent mission in Jenin and other Palestinian
towns" they invaded starting March 29, the paper wrote.
"The facts (of what happened in Jenin) don't need to be established;
they need to be condemned," said Saad Kassem Hammudi, a senior
official of Iraq's ruling Baath Party.
Moreover, the Security Council should "try those responsible for the
crimes committed there as murderers," he told AFP.
The Israeli army, which took control of the Jenin camp on April 12
after nine days of heavy fighting, withdrew on Friday morning but
remained in the area.
No date has been set for the dispatch of the UN team, which will be
chosen by Secretary General Kofi Annan.
* * *
Iraqi Official Urges Arab Boycott Of U.S. Goods
BAGHDAD, April 21 (Reuters) - A top official of Iraq's ruling party
urged Arabs to boycott U.S. goods because of Washington's perceived
support for Israel against Palestinians fighting to end military
Addressing a rally of around 2,000 Iraqi students protesting against
Israel's military offensive in the West Bank, Baath Party official
Huda Saleh Mehdi Ammash urged Arabs to convert demonstrations into
"Boycott American companies that support the Zionist entity (Israel)
and take other initiatives that convert emotions to an effective
Arab action in defence of our just cause of Palestine," she said.
"I say to all Arab students from the Atlantic to the Gulf that
demonstrations and impassioned emotions towards our people in
Palestine are not enough," added Ammash, the first woman to be
elected to the Baath party's regional command.
Angry street demonstrations have taken place in most Arab capitals
since Israel -- which on Sunday pulled out of two West Bank towns --
began its offensive on March 29. The protesters have denounced Israel
and its main ally, the United States.
Meanwhile, a Baghdad-based Islamic body, the Organisation of Popular
Islamic Conference, prepared for a three-day emergency meeting to
be held in the Iraqi capital from Monday to discuss ways to support
Officials said 300 Muslim personalities would attend the meeting from
Muslim states including Gulf Arab countries, which had boycotted the
organisation after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August, 1990.
* * *
Iraqi TV Says Saddam Donating Dollars To Homeless Palestinians
Amman (dpa) 04/21/2002 - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein Sunday
instructed his government to pay 25,000 U.S. dollars in compensation
for each home demolished by Israeli troops in the West Bank refugee
camp of Jenin, according to the state-run Iraq Satellite Channel.
The decision was taken during a regular cabinet session which reviewed
"the international and Arab situations as well as the criminal and
racial scheme being carried out" by Israel in the Palestinian
territories, the Iraqi TV network said.
Peter Hansen, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency (UNRWA) said earlier in the day that Israel had used
"disproportionate force" in its attack on the Jenin camp, destroying
the homes of up to 5,000 Palestinians.
Calculated on the basis of an average five-member family, Saddam's
total donation is expected to add up to at least 25 million dollars,
according to analysts quoted by the TV.
However, the figure could be much bigger if Palestinian estimates
turned out to be accurate. Jenin's municipal authorities put at
"several thousands" the number of homes demolished in the camp,
once a home for 15,000 Palestinians.
On April 8 Saddam ordered a halt to Iraq's crude oil exports,
currently running at about 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd),
for one month, in a bid to pressure Israel.
The Iraqi leader urged other Arab and Islamic crude exporters to
follow suit but none of them has so far responded.
According to state-run Iraqi media, at least six million Iraqis
have so far registered as volunteers in the so-called "Jerusalem
Army", which Baghdad says it is preparing for the task of
* * *
Iraq/ South Africa Probes Legality Of Iraqi Oil Deal.
Asia Intelligence Wire via NewsEdge Corporation :
04/21/2002 The South African opposition Democratic Alliance has called
for an investigation into a 1 billion-rand ($90.2 million) deal to
purchase Iraqi oil to replenish South Africa's Strategic Field Fund,
the South African news agency "SAPA" reported on 7 April. According
to Democratic Alliance Minerals and Energy spokesman Ian Davidson, the
purchase was "questionable" and might violate international sanctions
against Iraq. According to the 12 April "Financial Mail," South Africa
is in the midst of an oil crisis that is fueled by the combination of
the 30 percent rise in the dollar price of oil and an additional 20
percent rise in the rand cost of imports. Last week, the price of
in South Africa reached an unprecedented high. According to Davidson,
oil transactions with Iraq must be subject to UN approval. "Za*Now,"
the online version of South Africa's "Daily Globe and Mail" reported
on 12 April that Imvume, the company which awarded the contract,
specifically sought to import "Basrah Light" crude oil, and so excluded
non-Iraqi sources from the tender. However, South Africa's Strategic
Fuel Fund chief executive Renosi Mokate said in a radio interview that
"in enquiring from the company, they've indicated to us that they have
not been investigated by the UN." (Michael Rubin)
* * *
U.S. Seen Set To Oust Chief Of Second Global Body
AMSTERDAM, April 21 (Reuters) - A global body policing a chemical
weapons ban began a meeting on Sunday at which the United States
was expected to try to oust its director in the second such move
involving a world organisation this month.
Washington was expected to try to oust the Brazilian director of the
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Jose
Bustani, at its three-day special session in The Hague because of his
overtures to Iraq.
Last week Robert Watson, a U.S. scientist who advocates action against
global warming, was ousted as head of the U.N.'s climate advisory body
and environmentalists said Washington engineered his defeat.
The OPCW special session was the first in the body's five-year history
and representatives from member nations were meeting behind closed
doors, an official said.
Bustani survived a no-confidence vote last month after Washington
accused him of mismanagement for seeking to bring Iraq into the
group and begin inspections there.
The United States, which led the push for the special session, has
said Bustani's efforts were no substitute for U.N. Security Council
resolutions calling for Baghdad to allow free access for U.N. weapons
inspectors. One third of its 145 member states backed the call for
Bustani's spokesman has told Reuters that the director- general had
made overtures to the Iraqi delegation to the United Nations requesting
it join the OPCW in line with the goals of the 1997 Chemical Weapons
Under the convention, member states must provide data on their chemical
weapons programmes and are subject to challenges and inspections from
Bustani, 59, told a Brazilian newspaper on April 9 it was "very
probable" he would not survive the April 21 meeting given U.S.
influence, but he has refused to resign saying it was important
that the director-general be independent.
Bustani was unanimously re-elected for a second four-year term last
Iraq was subjected to U.N. arms inspections after the 1991 Gulf
War, but the inspectors left in 1998. The United States and its
allies say Baghdad has since pursued chemical, biological and
nuclear weapons programmes and fear these arms may be provided
In Friday's move against the head of the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, Watson was beaten in a secret ballot by Rajendra
Pachauri of India.
Watson is a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, an international
agreement to reduce most industrial nations' net emissions of
greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. The United States has
refused to join the pact, which is opposed by major oil companies.
* * *
Five Iraqi Students Go On Hunger Strike In
Solidarity With Palestinians
BAGHDAD, April 21 (AFP) - Five Iraqi students, including two girls,
went on hunger strike in Baghdad on Sunday in protest at Israel's
"massacres" of Palestinians, an AFP correspondent reported.
The group, who are staging their protest at the premises of the
National Union of Iraqi Students, said they hoped to spur Arab
leaders into halting the alleged massacres in West Bank towns and
Pro-Palestinian demonstrations meanwhile continued in Iraq, with
around 500 students marching in Baghdad, raising banners condemning
the Israeli offensive against the West Bank.
The students, who burned Israeli flags, also expressed support for
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's decision to suspend oil exports for
a month starting April 8 in retaliation for Israel's onslaught on
the Palestinians and US support for the Jewish state.
The United States "understands only the language of interests," said
Huda Saleh Mahdi Ammash, a member of the leadership of Iraq's ruling
"Martyrdom has become a wish for 300 million (youngsters) in the Arab
and Islamic worlds," she told reporters after the demonstration,
referring to "martyrdom (suicide) operations" by Palestinian militants
against Israeli targets, which the United States has branded as
* * *
Palestinians Say They Are Too Angry To Celebrate
The Israeli Withdrawal
By DAVID ROHDE, The New York Times
RAMALLAH, West Bank, April 21 - Instead of taking to the streets in
celebration after Israeli tanks withdrew today from much of this city,
Palestinians took to the streets seething.
Around Manara Square, the commercial heart of Ramallah, which is the
seat of the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank's wealthiest city,
people took their turn venting bile after 23 days of occupation.
One policeman said the withdrawal was partial, a sham and a transparent
effort by Israel to ease international pressure. An engineer said the
operation only increased Palestinian support for their leader, Yasir
Arafat, who remains surrounded by Israeli forces here. An accountant,
Abedramo Alkulli, called for continued suicide bombings. "We must have
more in order for Sharon to understand his operation was a failure,"
Mr. Alkulli said, referring to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The return to normal life seemed tentative. Traffic returned in spurts
to streets that are usually choked with vehicles. Pedestrians dotted
sidewalks that are usually jammed. Just a few stores opened in a
business district that typically hummed.
"You can see it," Khader Rantisi, a worker for a Palestinian human
rights group, said as he looked at the dribble of traffic making
its way around Manara Square. "People are in shock."
They were also angry. Israeli officials said they were hunting for
wanted terrorists and collecting documents that linked the Palestinian
Authority to attacks on Israeli civilians. Soldiers have ransacked
every government ministry here, taking pivotal documents, like papers
that Israeli officials contend show Mr. Arafat's support for attacks,
and not so pivotal ones, like the information stripped from the hard
drives of computers in the Ministry of Education.
But Palestinians see the goal of the operation as humiliation. Aymen
Alkhatib, an engineer at the Palestinian Petroleum Corporation, whose
offices he said were also ransacked, saw the incursion as a blunt
message. The message of the Israeli leaders, he said, was: " `You as
a people have to accept what we give you. If you start to feel strong,
I will show you there is no one stronger than us. I will stomp on
Storeowners in the commercial district complained that Israeli soldiers
trashed and looted their shops. Two of four statue lions in a monument
in the center of the square had graffiti in Hebrew or Stars of David
spray-painted on them.
Palestinians predicted a continuation of the cycle of retaliation and
retribution of the last 18 months.
"There is a wound that we managed to cure," said Wael Abdullah,
a 30-year-old policeman. "But unfortunately it was opened again."
He and other Palestinians complained that the Israeli forces that
still surround Mr. Arafat's compound divide the city in two. Military
blockades outside Ramallah prevent people living in outlying villages
from entering the city, stifling the economy. Residents said a military
blockade of the West Bank prevented Palestinians from traveling to
"The problem will remain eternal," said Mr. Abdullah, who is from
Gaza. "Any partial solution will not work."
Of a half dozen people interviewed today, only one said he favored
more suicide bombings, but all predicted that more would occur. They
said there was growing anger among Palestinians toward the United
States, because they believed that it turned a blind eye to Israeli
tactics that they said would be condemned if used by Iraq, for example.
* * *
U.S. Chief Commander Briefs Mubarak On America's War Against Terrorism
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) 04/21/2002 - Tommy R. Franks, commander of the
U.S.-led war on terrorism, briefed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Sunday on the U.S campaign.
Franks visit came a few days after Mubarak canceled his previously
scheduled meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell hours
before he arrived in the Egyptian capital amid signs of tension
between the two countries and Mubarak's unhappiness with Washington's
handling of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
The purpose of his visit was "also to talk about our security
relationships, the relationships that exist between our army forces,"
Franks told reporters after meeting with Mubarak and Egyptian chief
of Staff Lt. Gen. Hamdi Wuhaiba. Earlier Franks met with Defense
Minister Hussein Tantawi.
"I wanted to say thank you to Field Marshall Tantawi for having
provided an Egyptian liaison to my headquarters in the U.S. to
work on Operation Enduring Freedom," Franks said, using the
Pentagon term for the campaign launched against those Washington
holds responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mubarak has supported America's war on terrorism but stressed his
government's role was to provide information, not troops. Mubarak
also has argued that U.S. Mideast policy, seen by many Arabs as
biased toward Israel, created the kind of anger that could lead to
On America's war on terrorism, Franks said, "We are satisfied with
the progress that has been made up to this point. Have we achieved
all of our goals? Of course not, or we wouldn't be continuing the
Franks added Washington had not yet decided whether Iraq would be
the next target on war on terrorism. U.S. President George W. Bush
has called Iraq part of an "axis of evil," along with Iran and
North Korea, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and stockpiling
weapons of mass destruction.
Franks is on a Mideast tour that was to take him next to Saudi Arabia
and Kuwait. He said it was part of "simply a routine visit to the
region," adding, "I'm going there to talk about not a specific country
or a specific program, but one of the parts of my job is to maintain
security relationships and the military relationships that we have."
Since Israel started its incursion in the West Bank on March 29, anti-
Israel and anti-U.S. demonstrations have swept Arab countries,
demonstrations in the normally quiet Gulf.
Mubarak also discussed Sunday the situation in the Palestinian
territories with Jordanian King Abdullah II.
* * *
Emirati Paper Proposes Delinking Gulf Currencies From US Dollar
DUBAI, April 21 (AFP) - An Emirati newspaper proposed Sunday that
oil-rich Gulf Arab monarchies stop pegging their currencies to the
US dollar in protest at Washington's perceived bias towards Israel
in its conflict with the Palestinians.
"Such a move would constitute a serious warning to the US
administration, which has crossed all red lines in its flagrant
alignment with the Israeli government," Akhbar Al-Arab said.
The currencies of five of the six Gulf Cooperation Council member
states -- Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates -- are pegged to the dollar. The Kuwaiti dinar is pegged
against a basket of currencies, mainly the dollar.
The Gulf Arab states have also approved the US dollar as a yardstick
for a single currency to be effective by 2010.
"What is required is to delink (Gulf currencies) from the dollar ...
and stop supporting this currency so that it no longer dominates
international markets while it is effectively a weapon directed
against the Arabs, their rights and their interests," Akhbar Al-Arab
The fact that the dollar is "in decline on world markets as a result
of the US economic recession that began in the first quarter of 2001"
makes it even more appropriate for Gulf countries to reconsider their
links with the US currency, the paper said.
The Moroccan newspaper L'Economiste last week suggested that Arab
countries ditch the dollar in their trade dealings and use the euro
instead in protest at US policy on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The suggestions complement calls in the Arab world for a boycott of
American products and an oil embargo in retaliation for US backing
for Israel in its offensive against West Bank towns that began on
Iraq last year switched its foreign commercial dealings to the euro,
rather than the currency of the United States, its arch-foe.
* * *
US, Kurds In Secret Talks Near Berlin To Plan Anti-Saddam
DUBAI, April 21 (AFP) - US officials held a secret meeting near
Berlin with the leaders of the main Kurdish factions controlling
northern Iraq to plan a strike against President Saddam Hussein
"by year's end," an Arab newspaper reported Sunday.
The Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, quoting an Iraqi
Kurdish source, said the US side at the meeting included military
officials and representatives of the State Department and Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Massoud Barzani and Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan (PUK) chief Jalal Talabani, whose factions share
control of a Western-protected Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, both
attended the three-day meeting which ended on Friday, the paper said.
The US strike would be launched from northern Iraq, where "three
airports have been upgraded" to serve as springboards for the attack,
A planned meeting of US officials with Barzani and Talabani in a
mediation bid in Washington on Thursday was called off after the
Berlin talks brought the rival leaders closer, according to Asharq
One of the topics discussed was the possibility of merging the KDP's
and PUK's military resources into a single force in anticipation of
the anti-Saddam strike, which would take place "by year's end."
The United States has threatened to launch a military offensive
against Iraq and try to overthrow Saddam unless he allows UN arms
inspectors back into the country to verify that Baghdad no longer
has weapons of mass destruction.
* * *
Iraq calls to establish an International group for peace
Beijing, April 21, INA
Iraq has called to establish a group for peace-loving countries that
believe truly in the principles of the UN so as to correct the current
faults in the UN agencies driven by the US hegemony, to assure
in the International relations and respect sovereignty and human
Dr. Sadoun Hamadi, Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly, is leading
the Iraqi delegation to the conference of Asian Parliaments, which is
currently held in China. He stressed that although Iraq has implemented
all its obligations towards the Security Council resolutions, as
admitted by the Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy
Agency and their admission that no prohibited arms were discovered.
In spite of this the US evil administration is threatening to enlarge
its aggression against Iraq because of its refusal of the US Zionist
hegemony on oil riches in the Arab lands.
He added, "Iraq implemented all relevant Security Council resolutions.
UNSCOM has sent 264 inspection groups that have inspected 2558 sites
all over Iraq, and put 286 sites under permanent observation with
cameras and sophisticated remote sensing equipment."
Since 1994, all UNSCOM and IAEA reports have been unanimously
reporting that they found no breach or hidden weapons. Head of
UNSCOM Mr. Ekeus, mentioned in his final report to UNSCOM on April
1997 as follows, "According to the work accomplished for six years,
We accomplished about 95% of our work; it's unreasonable not to
accomplish the remaining 5%."
Dr. Hammadi elaborated as saying, "UNSCOM returned in 1998 led
by Butler. It reported that it made 427 inspection, only five
were hindered. UNSCOM's demands were not in accordance with UNSC
resolutions." He stressed that UNSCOM was performing spying
missions against Iraq as was admitted by the Secretary General
in an interview with BBC on June 27th 1999. Dr. Hammadi clarified
that the policy of sanctions against developing countries has been
widely spread as an effect of the hegemony of some countries on the
Security Council. This policy is affecting directly development and
human rights mentioned in all international laws and conventions to
secure the basic needs of food, medicines and other life requirements.
"When sanctions policies lead to a genocide, they contradict the
UN Charter, and Human Rights principles, and this is exactly what
happened in Iraq."
He referred to the violations of the UN Charter as saying, "most
discussions at the Security Council are carried on among the
permanent members only without the other members and the concerned
parties. While section 31 of the Charter states to include the
concerned party in discussions. As for Chapter 6 of the Charter
that deals with solving disputes with peaceful means, it was
completely ignored and they skipped directly to chapter 7. Even
this chapter states in paragraphs 39, 40 and 41 to use peaceful
means but this also was ignored."
Dr. Sadoon Hammadi stressed the need to rectify the Security Council
procedures by making them under judiciary control through giving
the affected country the right to resort to International Court of
* * *
Demonstrators Rally to Palestinian Cause
Arab Americans, Supporters Drown Out Other Issues
By Manny Fernandez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 21, 2002; Page A01
Tens of thousands converged on downtown Washington yesterday to
demonstrate for a variety of causes, but it was the numbers and
passion of busloads of Arab Americans and their supporters that
dominated the streets.
Eager to make their presence felt and their voices heard in the
nation's capital as never before, Arab and Muslim families marched
and chanted for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel, overwhelming
the messages of those with other causes in a peaceful day of downtown
rallies and marches.
Young men wore the Palestinian flag around their necks like a cape.
Arabic was heard nearly as often as English, and cardboard signs
held by women and children denounced Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and President Bush. Protesters rallying against corporate
wrongs and the global economy found themselves tweaking Vietnam War-
era chants to the Palestinian cause, shouting, "One, two, three,
four: We don't want no Mideast war!"
"The message here is we must support the Palestinian people against
a military occupation and an apartheid state," said Randa Jamal, a
graduate student at New York's Columbia University who joined thousands
at a pro-Palestinian rally near the White House. She said her cousins
were killed in Ramallah, in the West Bank, and her 16-year-old sister
has been unable to attend school because of the Israeli occupation.
"What they are going through," she said, "is crimes against humanity."
Palestinian rights was the theme of two of four permitted marches that
merged on Pennsylvania Avenue NW in a loud and colorful procession to
the Capitol. The host of other issues -- anti-corporate globalization,
antiwar and anti-U.S. policies in several areas -- were boiled down
to an essence visible on banners, placards and T-shirts. Banners read:
"Drop debt, not bombs" and "Peace treaty in Korea now." Bumper stickers
on T-shirts declared: "No blank check for endless war" and "We are all
It was possible to stand on the Washington Monument grounds and
hear simultaneous speeches from three rallies nearby -- antiwar
demonstrators, counter-demonstrators and pro-Palestinian activists --
in a mind-boggling surround-sound mix. Protesters came from the Anti-
War Committee in Minneapolis, Middlebury College in Vermont and the
D.C. chapter of the International Socialist Organization. There were
teenage anti-capitalists with black bandannas over their faces marching
alongside Muslim mothers wrapped in traditional headdress and pushing
Other demonstrations are planned today and tomorrow near the Washington
Monument grounds and outside the Washington Hilton, the site of a pro-
Israel lobbying group's annual conference.
District police said the crowds were larger than they had anticipated
and put the number at about 75,000. Metro transit officials said
ridership increased significantly yesterday, but estimates would not
be available until today. Organizers of the Palestinian-rights rally
at the Ellipse said the gathering was the largest demonstration for
Palestine in U.S. history.
"We are here because we want to do something, to send a message," said
Amal K. David, a Palestinian American who made a 12-hour trip in a
21-bus caravan from the Detroit area to join the rally organized by
International Answer, an antiwar, anti-racism coalition that shifted
the theme of its protest as violence in the Middle East escalated.
In tears, David spoke of the destruction that U.S.-financed Israeli
weapons and tanks have done to Palestinians, saying: "My beloved
country is financing such death and destruction. I am so ashamed."
Many pro-Palestinian marchers said they learned of the march through
their mosques. "All over the U.S., everybody got the word," said Issam
Khalil of the Bronx, who traveled in a fleet of 50 buses from New York.
Several downtown blocks away, thousands of other pro-Palestinian
activists took to the streets for another march to free Palestine.
The group was made up mostly of Arab Americans with relatives in
the occupied territories and U.S. Jews opposed to the occupation.
"The Palestinians here in the crowd look at us mistrustfully at
first," said Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, 45, of New York. "But then they
speak a few words with us, and they show us respect and friendship."
Weiss traveled to Washington with several dozen Orthodox rabbis
to join the march, which left the Washington Hilton, joined anti-
globalization demonstrators outside the Foggy Bottom headquarters
of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and continued
on the Capitol. He said his group favored dismantling Israel and
returning it to the Palestinians.
Buses carried Jewish supporters from Boston, Chicago, New York and
Philadelphia, among other places.
Organizers at the march privately urged participants to strike
swastikas from their posters, but few complied. It was a running
debate among many participants, though several swastikas appeared
on signs in reference to Sharon by day's end.
Walking down the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue near the Justice
Department as thousands filled the street, D.C. Police Chief Charles
H. Ramsey praised the decorum of the demonstrations. "The organizers
did an outstanding job," said Ramsey, baton in hand. "If it stays
this way, it will be the best one we've ever had. . . . This is
really what protest ought to be."
By about 4 p.m., no major clashes had broken out between police
and protesters. The events were a stark contrast to Washington
demonstrations in April 2000, when protests against the World
Bank and IMF led to a virtual shutdown of the downtown area and
sparked clashes between police and demonstrators that ended in
D.C. emergency officials said only two people were transported for
medical treatment, though neither case was serious. Both were falls,
one involving a police officer and the other involving a civilian.
Ramsey said that in his view, yesterday's demonstrations went smoothly
because organizers worked closely with police. At least three field
marshals from the pro-Palestinian side negotiated with Ramsey, then
barked instructions into their speaker-phones.
Hani Ahmed, 16, of the District was one of them, and he was marching
with a pro-Palestinian group that swelled the ranks of the anti-
globalization forces across from the World Bank and the IMF. "That
kid, he was only 16, and he was working so well with us. That was one
of the things that made it work so well," Ramsey said. At one point,
the parade got to Dupont Circle, and marchers wanted to go around the
circle rather than through the tunnel, where their permit instructed
them to go.
Tashim Sallah, 45, of Buffalo told Ramsey and Executive Assistant
Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer that he was worried that people
would suffocate in the tunnel. Gainer grabbed his hand and said,
"We're going down with you. There's no danger."
The group followed Ramsey and Gainer into the tunnel and delighted
in the cool shade and underground echo for their chants.
That cooperation was in marked contrast to the first day of
demonstrations, when more than three dozen bike-riding protesters
were arrested downtown during a Friday evening action at rush
hour. All of the 41 people arrested were released, a D.C. Superior
Court official said.
Yesterday, though, no incidents of that nature occurred. The only
arrests came after most protesters had disbanded. Police arrested
24 adults and one juvenile who were found in a parking garage in
the 1000 block of 13th Street NW. All were charged with unlawful
entry, a misdemeanor, and police said they were scheduled to be
arraigned tomorrow. Police said they collected backpacks, a riot
helmet and a gas mask from the suspects, who were taken to the D.C.
police academy in Southwest Washington.
Members of the group who were not detained said the demonstrators
were not sleeping in the garage, as police first said, but had
parked two cars there for the day's protests.
"They went back to the car to get food because they were tired," said
Jacob, 23, who drove from Baltimore for the protests but would not
give his last name. "We were going to leave to go home."
Earlier, the day was marked only by little dramas on street-corner
stages among the tangle of protesters, tourists, police and counter-
demonstrators clogging downtown on a humid, sticky afternoon. The
atmosphere was mostly civil and occasionally comedic, with brief
flashes of arguments or hostility.
About 1 p.m. at H and 16th streets NW, a small scuffle broke out
between members of the New Black Panther Party and a man intent
on disrupting them. A couple of dozen members of the party showed
up at the anti-globalization rally wearing black masks and black
military-style uniforms. They had swastikas and shouted anti-Jewish
slogans. The scuffle amounted only to pushing and angry remarks
before members of the crowd broke them up.
A short time later, the Patriots Rally for America -- a collection
of counter-demonstrators that opposed the United We March antiwar
protesters with whom they shared the Washington Monument grounds --
had heated up and was getting protection from 10 police officers on
horseback and 13 more on foot.
At many points during the afternoon, D.C. police and federal
authorities enveloped the marches and rallies with officers on
foot and in cars, on horseback and on bicycles. But their presence
was less dominating than in previous Washington demonstrations,
and most officers were not outfitted in riot gear. More than a few
were spotted at downtown intersections yawning or leaning on police
"That's the way we like it," Ramsey said. "They ought to be low-key.
People have a constitutional right to protest."
The effect of the pro-Palestinian demonstrators became evident when
their smaller march joined anti-globalization forces outside the
World Bank and IMF.
The emotion of the Mideast conflict appeared to overpower issues of
economic fairness, and many of the signs and chants called for freedom
for Palestinians and the end of U.S. sponsorship of Israel.
The Mobilization for Global Justice, which played a part in organizing
the day's activities, acknowledged that the pro-Palestinian sentiment
had overtaken its economic issues. "It seems more important to the
safety of the world," said Mark Rickling, a Mobilization organizer.
"But we're all united on the issues of oppression. I'm just floored by
the amount of people here today."
By afternoon, the more militant forces of the pro-Palestinian movement
dominated, with swastikas and anti-Sharon and anti-Bush slogans and
Aside from handing out signs, organizers seemed to have taken care of
nearly every need of protesters, in an ad-hoc way. One all-important
telephone number -- 202-462-9627 -- was inked onto many arms; it's the
number those arrested are to call.
Legal support was being provided at the number by a local law
collective, the National Lawyers Guild, and D.C.-based Partnership
for Civil Justice.
But yesterday, there were no confrontations or trouble during the
marches. There was even day care, a service offered for many activist-
parents by the Anti-Authoritarian Babysitters Club.
A gentle rain started about 2:30 p.m. as marchers walked along
Pennsylvania toward the Capitol, but the sun broke through about
By then, most marchers were at the east end of the Mall, and many had
stopped to pray on the puddled ground.
Next came speeches and music and, as the light faded, the protesters
began drifting away, with only 100 or so still on the Mall as a light
rain began to fall at dusk.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company
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