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More than 1,000 protest in Chicago against Israel's war on Palestinians

Chicago, April 1, 2002: More than a thousand Palestinians, Arab Americans, Muslims and anti-war activists protested at the Israeli consulate against the worst Israeli violence against Palestinians since 1948. Activists have vowed to step up the pressure locally and in Washington, DC on April 22, where Ariel Sharon will address the annual AIPAC conference. (article 6)
Chicago, April 1, 2002: More than a thousand people from Chicago's Palestinian, Arab American and Muslim communities gathered late this afternoon under a sea of Palestinian flags to march on the Israeli consulate to protest Israel's rapidly escalating war against the Palestinian people. The mobilization, which included activists from North American anti-war and civil liberties groups, drew people from across metropolitan Chicago, despite unseasonable cold and a driving rain, in what was the largest protest of its kind in Chicago since September 11. The action followed on the heels of a vigil in the heart of Chicago's pricey 'Gold Coast' shopping district last Saturday that drew 250 people to oppose Israeli terror against Palestinians.

A coalition of Palestinian and Arab community groups began organizing the emergency rally late last Friday in the wake of the worst Israeli violence against Palestinians since 1948.

Protesters put the blame for the violence in Palestine squarely on the shoulders of Ariel Sharon and the Israeli government, which they charge with mounting an increasingly genocidal attack on Palestinians. And they voiced their outrage with chants of 'No Justice! No Peace!', 'Sharon is a terrorist!' and 'Sharon, Bush, you will see! Palestine will be free!'

Speakers at the action called for an immediate end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Israeli military and settler violence against Palestinians. They also vowed that Palestinians would fight to the bitter end to win the right of return for Palestinian refugees in exile around the world. And they condemned the administration of U.S. president George Bush for giving Israel a tacit green light for the latest escalation of violence against Palestinians, and demanded that the United States immediately end all military and economic aid to Israel.

"Who are the real terrorists?" asked one man who was interviewed by local news reporters. "Palestinians fighting to defend their towns and villages -- or the Israeli settlers and soldiers who gun down women and children, bulldoze our homes, and round up and execute boys and men merely for being Palestinian? Americans need to wake up to the lies they have been told and the atrocities that the Israelis are committing in the name of a 'war on terror'."

Activists have vowed to step up the pressure locally, and plan to spend the next five days organizing for another -- and larger -- mobilization on Saturday at the Israeli consulate. And community activists have vowed to pull out all the stops in getting people to Washington, DC on April 22 to protest at the annual conference of AIPAC -- the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, widely regarded the most powerful pro-Israeli lobbying group in the United States -- where Sharon and Bush are both scheduled to speak.



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