California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

Filler ad

Stalwart Protestors on Hayward’s Streets

A group of protestors have been trying to bring awareness to Hayward and Castro Valley drivers about issues in the Middle East for over two years.

For the last two years or so, dedicated local citizens have placed signs along Foothill Boulevard in Hayward near the Jackson Street intersection that read “End The Occupation of Palestine & Iraq” and “Stop Aid To Israel.”

Considering the recent unrest in the Middle East, it may be worthwhile revisiting why these citizens continue to voice their objections to United States foreign policy in the region, and how they feel it might be changed in the future.

One slight problem is that the organizers, self-described as a loosely defined group of likeminded people, are extremely leery of talking to reporters.

“There is a conspiracy among the media,” said one protestor, who identified himself as Jim. “The truth has become a commodity, and if I want the truth I have to pay for it.” This sentiment has led Jim and others like him to donate money to internet sites such as Democracy Now! and Linked TV.

According to Jim, he is obligated to contribute to these information outlets because they operate outside the boundaries of the mainstream media, and can thus deliver the only news that is accurate and honest.

The group apparently believes that news outlets such as The New York Times and CNN are censored by the U.S. Government through the control of the Federal Communications Commission, and that they are either unable or unwilling to report factual information transpiring around the world which does not align with U.S. policy. Jim believes that this is the legacy of the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine,” which from 1949 to 1987 regulated “access, either free or paid, for persons or groups wishing to express a viewpoint on a controversial public issue,” according to official FCC policy.

Press pass aside, their basic message can still be gathered.

“We are here because we don’t like what Israel has done to the Palestinians,” stated one of the protestors who wished to be unidentified. The woman then referred to one of their nearby signs, which stated “No Apartheid Wall in Israel,” as a good example of what they believe in.

Recently, some have compared the current state in which the Israeli and Palestinian people exist to the official policy of apartheid in South Africa which lasted from 1948 to 1993. The term was used most notably by former United States president Jimmy Carter in his 2006 book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” in which he wrote that within Israel there existed, “a system of apartheid, with two people occupying the same land but completely separated from each other.”

The Hayward group, which is also known to display their signs in Castro Valley, is not the only group voicing this opinion in public around the Bay Area. Oakland-based Jewish Voice for Peace has recently purchased ad space at the Civic Center, Downtown Berkeley, and Oakland 12th Street BART stations, which feature posters stating, “End U.S. military aid to Israel.”

The United States, which gives monetary aid to over a dozen countries around the world, currently allocates the second-most aid to Israel, behind Iraq. The Congressional Research Center, a think-tank within the Library of Congress, reports that the Obama Administration has requested that $3 billion be appropriated to Israel in 2011.

According to the State Department, this aid is meant to “help ensure that Israel maintains it qualitative military edge over potential threats, and prevent a shift in the security balance of the region.”
Standing on the sidewalk along Foothill, car horns could be heard in 40 to 60 second intervals, voicing what could be interpreted as either support or opposition.

Jim believes that the motorists are showing support despite fears of government reprisal. The former paratrooper stated that he became politically aware in 1966 following his service in the U.S. Army.

“It’s not hard to pick out the bad guys, they leave a trail,” said Jim, speaking of the alleged trail which he tracks from Vietnam in the 1960’s to modern day Iraq.

Jim stated that his experiences during the era of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam reminded him of his Irish heritage, a country which he believes was “occupied” by the United Kingdom at various times in its history. He also believes this legacy of occupation is continued by the U.S. today in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When asked what this legacy has to do with recent anti-government protests in Egypt, Jim answered, “It’s wrong supporting dictators,” alluding to his opinion of the U.S.’s perceived support of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the past.

The protestors have no plans to fold up their signs anytime soon and will continue to add political dialogue to driver’s afternoon commute for many traffic jams to come.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Pioneer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Activate Search
California State University East Bay
Stalwart Protestors on Hayward’s Streets