Over 300 Minnesotans protested the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip outside of Sen. Al Franken’s campaign offices this past Wednesday. In line with the wave of civil disobedience actions that continue to spread across the country, 15 of the protesters exercised civil disobedience by refusing to leave Franken’s campaign office. As recently as July 17, Franken co-sponsored a bill supporting Israeli military action in Gaza.
Wednesday’s protest came in the wake of a number of protest actions throughout the Twin Cities over the past three weeks — the largest being on July 18 in Columbia Heights, where over 1,500 people protested Israeli military action in Gaza. These protests, like nonviolent pro-Palestinian actions occurring throughout the country, have received scant attention from local mainstream media outlets.
I was at the protest outside Franken’s office and held a sign that stated: “End the Siege on Gaza.” The siege (also known as the blockade) refers to Israel’s seven-year control of Gaza’s air, land and sea borders. The Israeli blockade prohibits Palestinian travel to and from Gaza, and restricts the import and export of goods. As a result, the people of Gaza face extreme poverty, mass unemployment, limited to no access to health care, and the rationing of everything from food and fuel to humanitarian aid.
Even as I write these words, they somehow feel like a hollow and inaccurate description of a situation described by the United Nations as a “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law” that has created an area that is “uninhabitable.”
The presence of a siege is an indisputable fact. Yet it did not stop a passerby from telling me to go home as “there is currently no siege on Gaza.” It was unclear whether he was referring to the internationally recognized seven-year siege on goods, aid and restricted border crossings or Israeli’s more overt July 2014 military siege, Operation Protective Edge, which has resulted in the deaths of over 1,300 Palestinians.
Such an outrageous denial reflects a collective nescience among the broader American citizenry toward the suffering of an occupied, systematically oppressed people. The media support this state of unknowing by failing to accurately and fully report on both the actual suffering (e.g., the actual blockade of the last seven years and the internationally recognized unlawful Israeli settlements in the West Bank) or on the resistance movements that seek to expose and end injustice.
The mainstream media’s silence is even more disconcerting in the context of the $3.1 billion in military aid that the United States provides to Israel annually. If you pay taxes, your money is helping to fund Israeli military action. You deserve to hear more than just the Israeli side of that story.
Robert Trousdale lives in Minneapolis.