WASHINGTON – Mahdi Bray said he’s been shouting for his rights since the Civil Rights Movement.
“I grew up in a segregated school, lunchroom, housing issues. Our house was fired on by the Klan. I know apartheid,” he said.
Bray, 64, national director of American Muslim Alliance, drew a comparison between the treatment of blacks during the civil rights era and the treatment of Palestinians today, which ultimately led him to speak at a protest Monday morning on behalf of the Palestinian cause.
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday to discuss issues like the recent attack on two Americans by a Jordanian police officer, the Iran nuclear deal and Palestinian-Israeli relations. Meanwhile, more than 300 people met outside the White House gates to protest the visit of Netanyahu.
“I want to be very clear that we condemn in the strongest terms Palestinian violence against its and Israeli citizens,” Obama said in his opening remarks. He did not mention the violence on behalf of Israel to Palestinians.
Yet, Bray said the U.S. is aiding Israel on its discriminatory acts toward Palestine.
“What’s taking place in Palestine is apartheid, and we are financing it with our tax dollars,” he said.
At the White House, Netanyahu said that Israel’s main purpose is to defend itself. However, he also said that the country is open to peaceful negotiations.
“Neither should anyone doubt Israel’s willingness to make peace with any of its neighbors that genuinely want to achieve peace with us,” he said.
Samar Hussein Langhorne, 40, a stay-at-home mother, said many were protesting what Netanyahu represented in his visit here.
“I think it’s disgraceful that we are hosting him here. He is asking for more money … Israel is the biggest recipient of U.S. aid,” she said.
The U.S. sends more than $3 billion to Israel for military, research and development.
The U.S. and Israel have had a close relationship since after World War II, when the U.S. was the first to recognize Israel as a state and began to give them aid.
Obama said the meeting with Netanyahu was to talk about ways to reduce the recently escalated violence between Palestinians and Israelis.
But Bray and the rest of the protesters outside the White House said Netanyahu’s stubbornness is the cause of the continued struggle between Israel and Palestine.
“Netanyahu says there is a democracy,” Bray said. “That’s hypocrisy.”
Reach reporter Jessica Pereda at [email protected] or 202-408-1493. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Download photo: Netanyahu_rally.zip