Friday, March 8, 2024

Janice and Max go to the Israeli embassy to commemorate Aaron Bushnell!

Janice and Max go to the Israeli embassy to commemorate Aaron Bushnell!

  The ANSWER Coalition and other groups called for a Hands off Rafah Global Day of Action on March 2.  Rallies took place around the country, including in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  Janice and I decided to attend the rally at the Israeli embassy off Van Ness Avenue on International Drive. It was an easy call, as we had to be there to honor the action taken by Aaron Bushnell.    

Through Chris Hedges, we read Divine Violence by Eunice Wong.  She described his immolation as “divine violence against radical evil.” Then she let him speak for myself:

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide. I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest. But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

We drove from Baltimore, and once we got near the embassy we saw lots of protesters and a huge police presence around the 1 PM starting time.  After we parked and walked down Connecticut Avenue, we saw many more placard carrying activists.  Because of the crowd, we set up with our placards on Van Ness and announced we were there because of the ongoing genocide, war crimes and slaughter of the children.  There were many speakers, many chants and some music which animated a lively crowd dominated by youth.  Biden better beware as the youth are visibly perturbed by his ignorant support for the Israeli genocide. One sign caught Max’s attention: IrrePRESSible.  I am sure the holder is aware that the Israeli Defense [sic] Force sees a journalist wearing a PRESS notice as a target. At least 88 journalists have been killed in the Gaza Strip. Max hopes to organize a visit to The Baltimore Sun so that it recognizes the Israeli attack on journalists.

One of the chants was the From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.  This chant is considered anti-Semitic by the right-wing.  However, it can be interpreted as a call for a State with equal rights for all.  At the beginning of the rally, there was a moment of silence for Aaron Bushnell, followed by the usual attacks on capitalism and imperialism.  Janice kept shouting that the weapons contractors were profiting from the destruction of the Gaza Strip.  She was also upset that there was no criticism of AIPAC from the stage.  A small segment of the crowd started shouting a vulgar refrain about Biden. I said to Janice that it was disrespectful. One of the youth near me criticized my observation.  I appreciated her vigor in condemning Biden, but my complaint was about the use of a vulgarity in a crowd with many children.  Biden deserves to be called a war criminal, and Max plans to vote Uncommitted in Maryland’s primary election.

Around 2:30 PM, we left the gathering which was still happening.  In fact, lots of people were just getting to the area. As we headed towards Connecticut Avenue, we picked up leaflets from various groups. One document had three different groups listed on it: BAMN, Movement for Justice and the International Trotskyist Committee.  There was a condemnatory notice of groups supporting “Israel’s genocidal occupation of Gaza—including phony ‘pacifist’ look-the-other-way policies.” This reminded us of the Hermann Goering quote: “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”

We went to the Flavor Garden on Connecticut Avenue for lunch.  Two Metropolitan Police officers entered the establishment, and Janice told them that her sister Joyce was the first female police officer in Wisconsin.  They appreciated the information.  I asked them about the size of the crowd.  One of them indicated they expected 500 people.  The other estimated the turn-out to be anywhere from two to three thousand activists.

  In the midst of our lunch, we heard a lot of voices outside so we grabbed our signs and stood just outside the restaurant’s door.  The rally goers were marching up Connecticut Avenue, and some of them stopped to photograph us.  Soon thereafter, two of the restaurant employees came out to photograph the march.  We felt good that we selected a restaurant with employees who supported the marchers.

One of the marchers came over and videotaped Janice.  She then joined us for lunch and nibbled on the carrots and hummus.  Lina was a Lebanese-American from Pittsburgh who wants to be a journalist.  She is taking an International Studies course at George Washington University, and one of her teachers is a former CIA analyst.  Janice told her about crossing the line at Fort Benning in a protest against the School of the Americas.  I reminded Janice that she was also arrested at Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing.  We explained to Lina that Haspel was involved in the Bush administration’s torture program. Prior to her confirmation, she destroyed the torture tapes.  The GW student was also told about our arrests at the CIA protesting killer drones, and Max’s involvement in a human rights delegation to Israel/occupied Palestine during the First Intifada.  We appreciated very much that this Muslim woman was quite knowledgeable about US injustices and wished her the best in her future endeavors.   

As we walked to our vehicle, Max thought again about Aaron Bushnell and what Eunice Wong wrote about divine violence. She related that she was in Prague in 1989 for the commemoration of the self-immolation of a 20-year-old university student named Jan Palach. He lit himself on fire in Wenceslas Square in 1969 to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.  When candlelight vigils took place at his grave, communist authorities dug up the body, cremated it and gave the ashes to his mother. By 1989, however, posters of Palach’s face were everywhere in Prague. Thousands marched to the Square of Red Army Soldiers and renamed it Jan Palach Square. Maybe someday the road to the Israeli embassy will be renamed Arron Bushnell Avenue.

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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



No comments: