Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gaza war spurs protests in Kingston

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Pro-Gaza and pro-Israeli demonstrators share a sidewalk in front of U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson's Kingston office.
Pauline Liu/Times Herald-Record
KINGSTON — When pro-Palestinian demonstrators and pro-Israeli demonstrators tried to occupy the same strip of sidewalk in front of U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson's Kingston office Tuesday afternoon, a scuffle broke out.
The outburst was perhaps a microcosm of the continuing struggle in the Middle East.
Other protestors and Kingston police quickly broke up the incident, and no one was hurt. The dueling demonstrations continued into the evening with one group lined up in front of the building at 721 Broadway, while the other positioned itself in front of the parking lot.
Carrying signs that read, "Free Gaza" and "End the siege on Gaza," the pro-Palestinian groups called on Gibson to help end what they called "our government's unconditional support of Israel."
Since the fighting began July 8, there have been more than 1,200 people killed on both sides of the war, almost all of them Palestinians. Hamas has been accused of firing thousands of rockets into Israel.
"Congress has given a blank check to fund Israel's attack on Gaza," said Jeff Cohen of Saugerties, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. "Our tax money is underwriting it and I'm against it. I think it's obscene."
On the opposite end of the sidewalk on Broadway, stood Nat Borsky of the Ulster County Jewish Federation. He and other pro-Israeli groups organized their demonstration after learning about what the other side had planned.
They argued Israel has a right to defend itself.
"If Israel is going to be attacked by over 2,500 rockets, how in heaven can you expect Israel to not respond and just let itself die?" Borsky said.
Gibson, R-Kinderhook, responded from Washington, D.C., where Congress is in session. He said he supports Israel's right to defend itself, but he also called on both sides to come back to the table to find a peaceful solution to the dispute.
"Hamas is a purveyor of terror and has taken a violent approach which is complicating matters," Gibson said. "Israel has been the victim of attacks coming from Gaza."

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