Al-Awda Vigil: Winter 2008-09 Gaza Assault


Nothing this month could have been more emotionally stirring than the polarizing remembrance of the Al-Awda Rally and Vigil for Gaza, which happened Saturday, January 14. As Palestinian supporters grew in Balboa Park to organize the march and vigil, they were pushed to one side of the fountain to make room, they were told, for the “other” gathering that day. The Palestianian-Israeli apartheid was created in microcosm in just a few hours as Zionist organizers showed up to rally against the Palestinian memorial.

History/Summary of Event.

After about an hour, the Palestinian activists and solidarity groups began their march, carrying signs that read, “Occupy AIPAC Not Palestine”, “The Key to Peace = The Right of Return”, and “End The Siege On Gaza.” The march went through the park and to the Houses of Pacific Relations to protest the Israeli House of Pacific relations as a form of Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

Back on route, toward the end of the march, a more solemn feeling came about the group of 150 or so participants. The vigil began with numerous speakers from different supporting groups, including but not limited to: Students for Justice in Palestine chapters, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist League, and the International Action center. Once the speakers had finished and candles were lit, the reading of 352 names and ages of innocent children, murdered during the winter 2008-09 assault on Gaza, began. The vigil was now a great distance from the Zionist group, nevertheless their amped music permeated the atmosphere.

As I wove through the crowd documenting the line of police still between the two groups and the signs and words speaking different truths from each side of that “line,” one boy with a Palestinian flag caught my eye as he confronted the Zionist group with a mere, inquisitive stare. A young girl joined him, symbolizing to me how this conflict continues to affect all generations, even our future.

Even with my exploration into this politically, long-standing international issue, I knew that many of these participants knew all too well the effect of this war on their communities abroad. What was my role to play here? I felt disheartened that this conflict had come with so little understanding to San Diego, to the city’s inhabitants and to the so-called “unbiased” police.