By Ross Moody
Protesters converged outside the Burton Federal Building in downtown San Francisco yesterday to mark the 40th anniversary of the Arab-Israeli 6-Day War, targeting their message to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose district office is inside. The pro-Palestinian group was confronted by another group that supports Israel, and the ensuing ruckus led to both groups getting kicked off the property.
Photo courtesy of 60/40 Campaign
The pro-Palestinian 40/60 Campaign, represented by a coalition which included non-Palestinian-oriented organizations such as the International Solidarity Network as well as traditional groups such as the Arab Resource Organizing Center, began rallying in front of the federal building at around 3 p.m. Almost immediately after the arrival of 40/60, counter protesters representing the Zionist group SF Voice For Israel arrived as well, and both parties began to fight to make their voices heard. Department of Homeland Security police officers soon came to quell the tension and remove the groups from the building’s property, though shouting matches and chanting continued between the two groups, which had to be separated by the police.
Meanwhile, the 40/60 Campaign denounced what some of their members labeled a modern case of apartheid and, according to a guest speaker, “a massive humanitarian crisis,” through poems, speeches, and chants. In addition to the activity in front of the federal building, the coalition’s leader in San Francisco, Noura Khouri, also went into the building to Pelosi’s office where she met with staff. While there, Khouri hoped to pressure the Pelosi to push for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, as well as oppose an impending federal House bill that, according to her coalition, was intended to “congratulate Israel for 40 years of occupation, and celebrate the 6-Day War.”
The demonstration, along with others conducted worldwide, will begin nearly a year’s worth of campaigning and demonstrations for the 40/60 Campaign, recognizing both the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the 6-Day War and the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian nakba, in which an estimated 700,000 Palestinian refugees evacuated settlements and up to 418 Palestinian villages were destroyed in May 1948 as a result of the 1st Arab-Israeli War.