Americans for Justice in Palestine

November 30, 2000                                                                                             Contact: Heidi 972(0)52-290-173

huwaidaa@yahoo.com (Huwaida)
For Immediate Release

Americans Demonstrate in Jerusalem

(Jerusalem) On Wednesday, November 29, 2000, the internationally recognized day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, Americans for Justice in Palestine held a successful demonstration in front of the U.S. Consulate in West Jerusalem.  The peaceful, lawful protest was intended to protest our government's continued support of Israeli occupation.

A small but vocal group of American citizens living and working in the Palestinian Occupied Territories gathered at the Agron St. Consulate from 12:00 noon until 1:00 PM. The demonstration did not take place in East Jerusalem, as originally planned, as the Israeli police forbade that location, in spite of the groups expressed fears of violent responses from Israelis on the West Side. The group held signs in protest of U.S policies toward Israel, in particular challenging the 6 billion dollars per annum in military aid.  Additional banners called for peace and justice, human rights and recognition of the inherent right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation.  The group also chanted slogans calling for an end to the occupation, asking the U.S. to stand for justice, for the removal of Israeli settlers and to implement UN resolutions.   The protest drew scores of angry looks and gestures from passing motorists and a few Israeli by passers stopped to pepper the group with a variety of epithets.

The group's coordinators had requested a meeting with the U.S. Consul General in advance of the protest, and a meeting with Vice Consul Gerald Feierstein was granted.  The representatives of the group were warmly greeted and the meeting, which lasted for approximately 45 minutes, was cordial and productive.  The representatives reiterated the groups objectives and presented the Vice Consul with a list of demands for the U.S. Government, a letter to President Clinton condemning the violence, and a letter from a 16 year-old Palestinian American in Tulkarem asking his government to intervene to protect him from Israeli bombardment of his home and school.  The last letter was presented on behalf of all Palestinian Americans who would like to have their voices heard but are barred from leaving the West Bank and Gaza Strip due to Israel's "security" measures.

During the bulk of the meeting, the Vice Consul expressed his belief that U.S. policy was slowly changing and the U.S. decision-makers were finally becoming more and more aware of the Palestinian position.  The representatives agreed that noticeable changes were taking place, however, fell far short of what is necessary to uphold the democratic ideals of our nation: chiefly, freedom, equality, justice and liberty.  The Vice Consul expressed empathy with our concerns and encouraged the group to continue its campaign and to carry our message to our elected representatives in the Congress whenever possible.  He also encouraged the group to contact the representatives of the local media.

Lastly, the question of the protection of American citizens, particularly, 16 year old American citizen Wael Hirbawi, imprisoned by Israel without trial for more than 2 months, was raised with the Vice Consul.  Mr. Feierstein commented that he was aware of the particular case and that it had been recently reported to Washington.  He assured the representatives that Consulate officials had been routinely inquiring into his well-being and had visited Mr.Hirbawi.  He, however, commented that the Israelis were very sensitive in this matter and less than cooperative with official U.S. concerns.

Americans for Justice in Palestine would like to thank those who participated in the demonstration, those who expressed support of our activities and the Vice Consul and staff at the U.S. Consulate for their warm and encouraging response to our initiatives.