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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 14, 2002

150 stage Middle East protest

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

About 150 people lined Beretania Street yesterday in front of the State Capitol, calling for peace in the Middle East and declaring their support for the Palestinians.

Enis Sen, left, would rather not hear the complaints of Mujahid Egan, who finds that the Palestinian flag is being wrapped around his neck too tightly by Unique Creekmur.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

"We've got to stop the killing," 60-year-old Farouk Wang said. "They're creating hatred for the next generations."

Wang and a group of younger men were protesting at the corner at Beretania and Punchbowl streets, holding signs with slogans that called for an end to what they characterized as the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

One sign showed a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon labeled "War Criminal." Someone had drawn a tiny mustache over the center of Sharon's upper lip.

From Wang's position the protesters stretched 'ewa along both sides of Beretania Street to Richards Street. Some held pictures of injured or dead Palestinian children, with one image of a young corpse labeled "Made in Israel." Some of the signs berated the United States for continued support of Israel. One protester held an American flag; several wore or carried Palestinian flags.

Motorists — sometimes one or two cars at a time, sometimes half a dozen — honked their horns and waived or gave the shaka sign.

Most of the protesters were from the Muslim Association of Hawai'i, the group that organized the rally. At least three protesters were members of Native Hawaiian groups who said they had come to show solidarity.

Samar Ahmad and Intisar Latif are naturalized American citizens who said they had left the West Bank nine years ago to join their husbands in Hawai'i. They still have family members in Ramallah and a nearby town.

Their families have been captives in their houses, living without electricity or running water or sufficient food, the women said. The dead lay in the street where they fell, and neighbors were taken away and not heard from afterward.

If the rumors were true that Iraq President Saddam Hussein is paying money to the families of suicide bombers, Ahmad asked, who could blame them for taking it?

"They need it to live," she said. "They can't let their children die of hunger."

Scott Israel, who stood at Richards and Beretania waving an Israeli flag, is the son of a Jewish father and gentile mother. He hadn't planned to state his counterprotest yesterday afternoon until he "saw the Sharon picture with a mustache like Hitler."

"I just became very angry," he said. "Using Nazi imagery to slander Jewish people? You have to stand up to that."

So he went out and bought the flag and took his place in defiance of the Palestinian supporters.

"I support Israel," he said. "Five million Jewish people aren't just going to roll over. We rolled over for Hitler. We won't do it again."

Israel was joined on his corner by Bill Geyman, a man who described himself as a Christian and friend of the Israelis.

"I think the Israelis have a unique role to play in the unfolding of biblical prophesies," he said, "and that we are to bless Israel and we will ourselves be blessed."

"I don't agree with that," Israel said. "But I'm glad to have the support."

Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or at kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.