Protests for Gaza, St. Louis and Worldwide

Protests for Gaza, St. Louis and Worldwide

by Sheila Musaji

St. Louis isn’t a town that is big on protests, but today on the National Day of Solidarity with Palestine, about 1,000 people (myself included) turned out in the bitter cold to march peacefully from the City Hall in University City through the neighborhood called “the loop”.  This large group walked peacefully and stretched for many blocks from the beginning to the end of the line.  There were at least 10 police cars, and numerous police in riot gear with plastic handcuffs on their belts.  None of this was needed because the demonstration was completely peaceful.  The police stopped traffic for the group to cross at the various intersections.  The protestors carried signs asking for justice, for peace, for shalom and salaam and not war, for the U.S. to stop using our tax dollars to fund weapons, for an end to the occupation of Palestine, for negotiations instead of war.

There was a counter protest of about 30 people with Israeli Flags who stood on the opposite side of the street where the march originated.  There was no trouble except for one man from the Israeli counter protest who followed the march for blocks on the other side of the street and continually shouted insults, and even obscenities.  If he hoped to provoke a response, he was, thankfully, unsuccessful.  For the most part he was ignored.  At one point he demanded that someone from the march shake his hand, and a few people went over and did just that - and no more.

For St. Louis this was a good turnout, although much higher numbers of people marched across the nation.  About 20,000 turned out in Washington, D.C. opposite to the White House, hundreds in Los Angeles, thousands in San Francisco and across Canada.  Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide (and perhaps millions) rallied for peace.  In Paris alone more than 120,000 people marched, and up to 100,000 in London.

We can only hope that President-elect Obama, and our government leaders listen to our voices before the death toll rises any higher than the current count of 854 dead particularly with Israel’s announcement today of a planned escalation of its offensive.

There were massive demonstrations around the U.S. on Saturday January 10th, and yet these received almost no mainstream media coverage.  Why so little media coverage?  Why is this not newsworthy? Could it be that Richard Silverstein’s article on the Hasbara media spin effort success is totally accurate?  Based on what we saw here in St. Louis, I believe that a concerted letter writing campaign is how the media is being influenced not to write about this subject.

UPDATE:

After putting this article online, I sat down to watch the local news - nothing about this event.  Then I looked for articles about the St. Louis protest online - and found nothing.  I watched the news coverage for the next few days, and still nothing.

I did see an article in the Post-Dispatch  about a gathering in support of Israel at the Jewish Community Center on January 9th entitled “Jewish community unhappy with press coverage of Gaza conflict” by Tim Townsend.  In this article the reporter mentions that:  “Jewish leaders felt a story written by this reporter last week about local reaction to the Gaza situation was imbalanced. A column Sunday by Sylvester Brown about a pro-Palestinian rally further angered some in the St. Louis Jewish community, and many wrote to the newspaper’s top editors asking them to explain why the Jewish perspective was once again absent from the paper’s pages.”

I had written about the incident with Sylvester Brown that Tim Townsend is referring to in the article “Saint Louis Journalist Faces Criticism for Reporting on Gaza Demonstration” and believe that newsmedia across the country received numerous phone calls complaining about any coverage that was not strictly in favor of Israel’s actions in Gaza.  It is a shame that the news media is so easily manipulated.

Journalists are being kept out of Gaza by Israel so that we are not getting all the news about what is happening there.  In the United States, American journalists are fearful of even reporting on the fact that there are Americans who oppose this action.  The end result is that we are getting biased, self-censored media coverage that does not tell the whole story and amounts to a news blackout

I guess I will have to continue to get my news from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

SEE ALSO Inaction is a choice with information about the Gaza crisis, what you can do, and resources which are updated daily.


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