Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pastor mourns for the victims of the Memorial Day massacre

By Heber Brown, III

Memorial Day took on a totally new meaning today for me. For the past many years, it has been a day to gather with family at my Aunt Mary's House for a cookout that has been a staple for 30+ years. We get together to catch up on family news, sing songs that feed our souls, and celebrate each other's accomplishments.

However, this year, Memorial Day has meant a day of mourning and focused anger. Humanitarians from Turkey and other parts of the world set sail in a grouping of ships to deliver 10,000 tons of aid to Palestinians who are trapped behind the concrete walls of an Israeli blockade.

As many in the world know by now, as the ships, known as the Freedom Flotilla approached the coast of Gaza, the Israeli Military attacked. Initial reports indicated that nearly 20 people were killed and many more were wounded by the assault by the Israeli soldiers. This brazen act of murder on the sea invited condemnation by many in the world.

My delegation had been watching the news of the Freedom Flotilla and were praying its safe arrival in the Gaza Strip. We knew that the 1.5 million Palestinians there needed it. We had just been at the Gaza Strip - at the Erez Crossing which is currently the only way that people can get in and out. The Israeli Occupation Soldiers were obviously irritated by our presence and after conversing with a few Palestinians, speaking with the Occupation officer at the front gate, and taking a few pictures, we left.

You can imagine our dismay and anger then we woke this morning to the news that the Israeli Occupation Forces opened fire upon the humanitarian vessels. Because the Israeli Occupation Forces are never held accountable by the world community, they act with tremendous violence without hesitation.

Demonstrations were held across Palestine/Israel today and our delegation ended in the major Palestinian cultural city of Ramallah. After a morning meeting, we made our way downtown, jumped off of our bus, and many of us joined the hundreds in the streets in nonviolent protest. People from all over the world were here marching and chanting together in solidarity. I've participated in street demonstrations for the past decade or more, but I've never felt a rush like I did today - knowing that I had the opportunity not to just watch the news in Baltimore and shake my head in disgust, but I was granted the chance to actually be on the ground in Palestine to show my support for justice and peace. While marching, clapping, and chanting in the middle of the city center, I wondered what my family and friends would see in the american media back home. I wondered if some "news" agency would get a clip of the march and send it around the world framing it as just a small group of Palestinian militants calling for "death to Israel". It's an implication that's used regularly in the U.S. media, but today I knew that storyline was wrong - not just from head knowledge, but from heart experience.

I will never forget those who gave their lives today for freedom and justice. People who were just trying to help were slaughtered at sea. Now the question is will the United States - Israel's greatest international financier and defender in the U.N. Security Council move past words and hold Israel accountable. I guess we'll see soon.

In memory of the martyrs from the Freedom Flotilla,


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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