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Arabs and Israelis March in Brazil Against the War

At least 4,000 people, according to the Military Police, marched this Sunday, August 6, in São Paulo, South America’s most populous city, to protest against the war being waged by Israel against Lebanon.

Protesters carried Palestine and Lebanon flags, waved banners condemning the war (Stop Killing the Children, Help Lebanon), wore T-shirts with pictures of bombed areas in Lebanon and shouted "Israel State, Murder State." The march started at Avenida Paulista and ended up a few miles away at the Ibirapuera Park.

The protest was organized by the Solidarity Committee to the Arab Peoples, which counts on more than 20 national groups throughout Brazil. The same group had organized earlier in Praça da Sé, in downtown São Paulo, a smaller rally, with about 1,000 people.

"Our objective," said Soraya Smaili, one of the march’s organizers and the president of the Arab Culture Institute (Icarabe), "is to join together not only the Lebanese and Palestinian communities in São Paulo, but also the entities of the Brazilian civilian society who are solidary this moment concerning the massacre that is happening in Lebanon and that has been happening for a long time in Palestine at the hands of the state of Israel… It’s important that the Brazilian society understand that there is no war, but a massacre."

The Israeli Federation of São Paulo state (Fisesp) has also scheduled a public act against the war and for peace. Called "Act for Peace in Israel and in All of the Middle East", the rally will be held at the Yitzhak Rabin Civic Center, at 6 pm local time.

Among those expected to participate in the demonstration are the Israeli ambassador in Brazil, Tzipora Rimon; the president of Brazil’s Israeli Confederation, Jack Terpins and rabbi Henry Sobel.

The organizers are expecting around 3,000 people including Jewish families, community and religious leaders, students and teachers from Jewish schools. Participants are being asked to dress in white and carry Brazilian and Israeli flags as well as banners urging peace in the Middle East.

Yesterday, a synagogue in Campinas, interior of São Paulo state, was attacked with rocks and Molotov cocktails by unidentified people. The fire started by the homemade bombs were promptly extinguished by passers-by. Damages were minor and nobody got hurt.

The assailants painted on the church’s sidewalk: "Lebanon, the true holocaust."

Eight Brazilian have been killed in Lebanon since the start of the Israeli attacks. The last one was a 17-year-old by the name of Ibrahim Saleh who had joined Hizbollah.

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