On Sept. 16, just hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced he would take the bid for official recognition of statehood directly to the United Nations Security Council, a group of about 30 pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in front of the Federal Building in Westwood to urge the United States government not to veto the motion.
Plans for the demonstration had been in the works for a month, Jeff Warner, action coordinator for LA Jews for Peace, said, and the day-to-day shifts in what the Palestinians might or might not do when the U.N.’s General Assembly opened on Sept. 20 hadn’t changed the plans for the demonstration at all.
“We want to support their right for self-determination,” Warner said.
Even as European countries were still trying to achieve unanimity, Estee Chandler, the organizer of Jewish Voice for Peace-LA (JVP-LA) was convinced that the momentum was on the Palestinian side.
“Every day, there’s new ones coming on. It’s not moving in the other direction,” she said.
Chandler said she wants to see two homelands for two peoples — Palestine for Palestinians and Israel for Israelis. “I find the idea that Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people to be disingenuous.”
Kristen Ess, the organizer of CODEPINK-LA, was also at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue on Sept. 16, sporting a scarf of the antiwar group’s signature color. She, like many, acknowledged that there is some disagreement among activists — as there is among Palestinians and among Arabs — about whether the U.N. bid for statehood would ultimately advance the Palestinian cause.
“Within our own community there’s a great deal of discontent and discussion around whether we wanted to support this particular bid,” Ess said. “In Los Angeles, what everyone could agree on is that we don’t want the United States to continue to pay for the Israeli occupation. That we don’t want the United States to use its veto no matter what, when it comes to Palestine.”
JVP-LA’s Chandler said that some local Palestinian groups had been invited to the rally but declined to take part.
Indeed, although the demonstration was co-sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Los Angeles and Orange County chapters of Friends of Sabeel, neither group’s leaders were in evidence. Jews, meanwhile, were disproportionately represented.
Passing cars honked in support, and one projectile was thrown from a passing vehicle, a small paper cup from the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. It hit the sidewalk without striking anyone or spilling any of its contents.