January , 2019

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(Letters to Editors)

Coalition for Justice in Palestine

Police arrest Zionist protester for bringing handgun to pro-Israel protest. “If this had been a supporter of Palestine, his arrest would have been headline news,” say Palestinian supporters.

CHICAGO, IL – Israel’s Chicago supporters must have mistaken West Madison Avenue for the West Bank, say activists opposed to Israel’s assault on Gaza – because they harassed and assaulted counter-protesters with impunity at a pro-bombing rally on Wednesday. One pro-Israel supporter was arrested for bringing a handgun to Stand With Israel’s Wednesday rally in support of Israel’s merciless assault on the people of Gaza.

Hundreds of opponents of Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza counter-protested the Wednesday pro-Israel rally, which featured an extreme racist view of the loss of Palestinian life in Gaza over the last two weeks. Palestinian supporters expressed frustration at the treatment they received at the hands of Chicago police.

The Chicago Tribune reported that police searched those attending the pro-Israel rally – but they missed at least one pro-Israel individual packing a handgun, who was later arrested. Andrew Glatz, who was ultimately the lone arrest at Wednesday’s rally, sells real estate – including in Trump Towers — and is an ardent supporter of Israel’s violent assault on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. His Facebook page is peppered with photos of Glatz with other right-wing Israeli supporters, as well as shots of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel from an August 2012 fundraiser Glatz attended at the Pegasus restaurant. Glatz also included a photo of himself with Illinois governor Pat Quinn. Journalist Kevin Gosztola has detailed Glatz’ extremist views in a report that dropped on Thursday.

“The Zionists at Wednesday’s rally believe that the lives of invading Israeli soldiers in Gaza are of more value than the lives of over 600 Palestinian civilians who’ve been killed in Israel’s latest onslaught, including over 130 children,” says Hatem Abudayyeh of the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network. “At the same time, our counter-protest was corralled and policed like a criminal enterprise, when it was the pro-Israel protesters who harassed and assaulted us.  Chicago police commanders need to learn from our community’s experience, and stop giving a privileged place to the other side, which is advocating an agenda of dispossession and murder.”

That bias – and the impunity that pro-Israel protesters were afforded at Wednesday’s action – mirrors the treatment of Israeli settlers and security forces across Palestine, say activists. A number of pro-Israel protesters crossed the street to the Palestinian protest to taunt and threaten protesters, who included American Jews opposed to Israel’s war on Gaza and hundreds of Palestinian American youth. Yet the Chicago police sent their mounted police and others to face off not with the approaching mob from the Israeli side but against the Palestinians and their allies.

CJP leader Senan Shaqdeh says the reverse would have been unthinkable. “If our side had done that — gone across the street to disrupt the Israeli demonstration — the police would’ve been all over us,” he says.

Glatz, wrapped in an Israeli flag, acted so aggressively that the police detained him — and when they searched him, discovered he was carrying a concealed weapon. He’s been charged with a misdemeanor.

Kristin Szremski of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), says the double standard on Chicago’s streets reflects the daily reality on the ground for Palestinians at home. “We’re not surprised by the violence of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and the Israeli settlers and racists they support,” she says. “Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s torture and killing is just one example of this kind of atrocity that Palestinians routinely experience.”

Palestinian teenager Abu Khdeir was tortured and burned alive by right-wing Israeli settlers.

“Glatz brought a handgun to a protest!” adds Szremski. “In Chicago, we expect that the violent offender who threatened the young people in our community will be dealt with the full force of the law, unlike the impunity with which Israel deals with the settlers on Palestinian land.”

One Turkish American was among the pro-Palestine supporters who was harassed by racists at the protest – but does not want to be named for fear of retaliation from Zionist extremists. Pro-Israel protesters called him a “terrorist” and used other racial slurs, then put their hands on him and tried to grab him. The pro-Palestine supporter chose not to press battery charges. “There was definitely something extreme going on,” he said, of pro-Israel protesters.

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