About 700 supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization marched from the east end of the Mall to the White House yesterday demanding a cutoff of U.S. military aid to Israel.
Carrying flags of Lebanon and the PLO, and posters that urged the United States to recognize the guerrilla organization, the protesters gathered in Lafayette Park, where they heard speakers blame the U.S. for Israeli actions in Lebanon.
A 50-year-old Palestinian woman, dressed in a long, black dress and beige veil, sang a national song in Arabic: "Who will be able to surround you my men? I'm asking God to put victory on your side." Many men in the audience wore the traditional Palestinian headdress, the hattah, that has come to be associated with PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
The demonstration was organized by the Palestine Congress of North America, an umbrella organization of some 50 U.S.-based groups sympathetic to the PLO, said spokeswoman Lina Taweel.
"We feel the U.S. ought to apply sanctions on Israel," said Jawad George, a 32-year-old Palestinian-American who is executive director of the congress. "The president has spoken. He has told Israel to stop the invasion, to stop the bloodshed, and withdraw from Beirut. And what has been the response from Israel? Total rejection. U.S. taxpayers are paying for Israel's war, for the guns and bullets of Israel."
Among the demonstators was a 34-year-old Palestinian-American who works in an Alexandria bank and would be identified only by her first name, Sammy.
"I was born in the same year they were bombing my home town of Albireh," she said. "My mother became a refugee when she was in labor with me. And now I'm a grown woman.
"The administration is so scared to say anything against Israel that the next morning they have the Jewish leaders in to say, 'Don't worry.' They shake in their boots. But they can say anything about us they want and they don't care."
Meanwhile, in front of the White House, 14 persons demonstrated demanding that all foreign forces leave Lebanon. The group, a recently formed organization called Concerned Lebanese Citizens, showed photographs of children injured by Israeli and Palestinian gunfire.
"The war in Lebanon has been going on for eight years," said spokeswoman Miriam Attia. "It's time for Lebanon to be free of all foreign forces. Our people are being killed . . . . We're the forgotten people in the middle."