Israeli-Palestinian protests continue, move to Klobuchar and Star Tribune offices

The Anti-War Committee of Minnesota continued their protests this week. This time, the group set their sights on another Minnesota lawmaker and the mainstream media for what the protesters call a complacency over the ongoing violence between Israel and Palestine.

On Aug. 6, scores of protesters flooded the sidewalks outside U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office on Washington Ave. S. and called for the lawmaker to rescind her support for Israel and remove her name from a July resolution supporting “the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”

“Sen. Amy Klobuchar who has, just like Sen. Al Franken, signed onto every resolution supporting the bombing campaign and every funding [resolution] for [Israeli] military,” said Jess Sundin from the Anti-War Committee.

Franken received his own protest a week earlier when members of the Anti-War Committee descended into his St. Paul campaign office and refused to leave. That protest ultimately culminated in a personal call by the senator to protesters and later, over a dozen arrests.

Standing in a lobby outside Klobuchar’s office, Communications Advisor Ben Hill said the Senator’s office hadn’t been contacted by the Anti-War Committee about Wednesday’s protest or requested to speak with her on the phone.

But members of the Anti-War committee were confident the lawmaker was aware of their stance and that the Senator was ignoring her political base.

“[Klobuchar] has been totally nonresponsive to her constituents,” Sundin said.

“We’ve had call-in campaigns to her office but we haven’t had any response,” added committee member Sophia Hansen-Day.  

After several hours of protesting under the close watch of Minneapolis police officers, the rally headed on foot to the Star Tribune building, which was chosen because of the newspaper’s lack of coverage on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, said Hansen-Day.

“We feel like that’s an editorial decision that they’ve chose to not cover the deaths and the violence in Gaza. And that needs to change,” she said.

Reading a list of names with a gentle Arabic accent, Yara Sabri watched as protesters began falling around her, each drop to the ground symbolizing a person killed in the recent violence in Gaza. The bodies were soon covered-up with white blankets covered in slashes of red.

Sabri, 21, said she’s never been to Palestine despite that both of her parents are from there. 

“Growing up, I heard the terrible stories my dad would tell me of how it was when he was growing up in what is now Israel. And it’s just so saddening for me to grow up and not even have a chance to visit my own country,” Sabri said.

“This is our country and we’re just fighting to keep it,” she added.

Klobuchar’s Communications Director Brigit Helgen released a statement from the U.S. Senator just as the protest concluded at the Star Tribune.

"The temporary ceasefire is an important development, and the focus must now be on a long-term agreement that ends the tragic loss of life and ensures security and peace," Klobuchar said.

The Star Tribune also ran a short story about the protest for their Thursday edition.

As of August 7, 2014, 1,880 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have died since Israel began a military initiative against Hamas on July 8, 2014, according to the New York Times. In addition, 3,834 targets in Gaza have been struck by Israel and 2,909 rockets launched at Israel from Gaza during that time period.

Palestinian and Israeli leadership have agreed on a three-day ceasefire that will end Friday morning.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.

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Katie Nelson