Local organizations gathered in Hollywood last week to protest the United States’ involvement in several areas of the Middle East. In particular, the focus was on the peace talks that were to take place in Annapolis, Md.
The event drew more than 30 protesters and was comprised of various non-profit activist organizations that shared the same frustrations with the George W. Bush administration, as well as the Iraq War and Israeli and Palestine peace.
The International Action Center called the Annapolis conference a “phony meeting,” or hidden agenda, and along with other protesters are skeptical that the conference would bring any real progress toward peace between Israel and Palestine.
“How can Bush be so concerned about peace when this government has killed 1.2 million Iraqi’s since the Iraq war started, many of them being children?” John Parker, West Coast coordinator for the International Action Center, said
“The administration only invited those representatives who share the same interests as them on certain issues,” Parker said. “No representatives were invited that directly represent the Palestinians.”
Many believe that the conference is nothing short of a dinner party hosted by the United States government for more than 40 Middle Eastern countries to attend. And critics doubt that the meeting will invoke real progress or any desire of achieving peace.
“What’s the point?” Namibia Donadio, a CSUN student and local FIST activist, asked.
“In who’s best interest is this meeting when there is still no set guest list, and no set agenda?
“They’re not even allowed to talk about the most important issues, and Hamas was banned from the conference, when they represent a huge portion of the Palestinian people,” Donadio said.
All groups that attended the rally shared the same belief: that the main priority of the United States should be to bring the troops home from Iraq, and to promote progress between Jerusalem and Palestine. The protesters didn’t expect either to take place at the meeting.
Marchers gathered to show their support for several other prevalent issues regarding peace and progress in the U.S. They believe making changes on the home front should be the first priority, in particular immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, and making our economy better.
Some of the protestors were shouting “Money for jobs, not for war!”
Several protesters chanted as they traveled up and down a corner of the intersection at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue.
“It seems like people these days are more inclined to care about who’s on their Blackberry, than what’s going on in Congress,” said John Paul Vera, a CSUN alumni and Green Party activist.
Although marchers were doubtful about seeing any real change of pace in the Middle East in the near future, they were hopeful that the new election and newly appointed government advisors will start progressing toward change, slowly but surely.
“In order to stop this war there needs to be a big movement in the streets like with Vietnam,” said Parker.
“People keep saying that the war will end when Bush leaves office. This won’t happen. Congress needs to cut off funds for the war but they can’t because they are sponsored by the same companies that sponsor the war.”
Political views that are similar to that of the Green Party were on display at the event and both Parker and Vera agreed that the best presidential candidate to pull American troops out of Iraq and to end the war the fastest is the former Democrat from Georgia, Cynthia McKinney.
“She is very principled and totally anti-war,” Parker said. “She’s not sponsored like the other Democratic parties so her agenda is different.”
The various organizations said they’d continue to protest and spread the word about the real issues concerning the Middle East.