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Protests of Mideast Action in U.S.

April 6, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Thousands of demonstrators _ some with Palestinian flags, others carrying Israeli flags covered with swastikas _ marched through midtown Manhattan to protest Israeli military action in the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy.

About 2,000 demonstrators chanted ``Free Palestine″ and ``Down with Israel″ as they marched Friday from Times Square to the United Nations.

``Today, we are all Palestinians,″ shouted Larry Holmes, a member of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, or ANSWER, coalition.

There were few confrontations and no arrests were reported.

At several rallies in northern New Jersey, protesters chanted and carried signs with slogans like ``Stop the Massacre″ and ``Stop Killing Our Children.″

Calling on President Bush to intervene and end the bloodshed, about 400 protesters outside a federal building in Paterson, N.J., compared Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Adolf Hitler.

But Nabil Abassi, president of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, said, ``Our intention today is to promote peace _ a peace which is based on justice and equality.″

Ferne Hassan of the American Jewish Committee in Millburn, N.J., approached reporters at the Paterson rally to defend Israel.

``These are the children who are going to have to carry out whatever agreements are negotiated today,″ she said, referring to the youngest protesters. ``In order for there to be peace, the message has to filter down to children. There has to be a culture of peace, not a culture of hate.″

Several hundred Muslims and Jews faced off at a rally in Teaneck, N.J., but the protests were peaceful, police said. In Jersey City, N.J., about 300 people gathered at Journal Square.

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