Monday, August 04, 2014

Israel Solidarity Rally in Civic Center

On Sunday at noon, there was a "Solidarity With Israel" rally that lasted a couple of hours.

The event included speakers decrying the violence of Hamas while praising the patience of Israel before everyone decamped from the plaza and marched down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza.

There was lots of signage referring to "PEACE" AND "CHILDREN," which demonstrated a bit of chutzpah after a month's worth of images broadcast around the world of Gazan families who had been murdered by Israel with United States supplied weaponry.

There was a single gay rainbow flag with a Star of David, which is part of an Israeli campaign to "gaywash" their image in the Western world by demonstrating how tolerant they are to minorities in contrast to primitive Muslims. I "unfriended" a "Friend" this morning on Facebook when she posted an Israeli propaganda photo of two male IDF soldiers holding hands, as if this somehow mitigated the murder of children.

I have honestly been bewildered by a few intelligent, goodhearted acquaintances who have been defending Israel's behavior in this latest misadventure, but as usual the indispensable blogger Jan Adams (not pictured) came through, and linked to an illuminating open letter at the Jewish Voice for Peace which explained a lot. It was from Hilla Dayan and PW Zuidhof, an Amsterdam couple who have dual Dutch/Israeli citizenship. The letter begins:
"The summer in Israel was planned long in advance. Eager to go, our three small children were excited to start their Lego themed summer camp. We landed in Tel Aviv in steamy mid July, just when the current violence started. As a Dutch-Israeli family from Amsterdam that travels frequently to Israel we are used to being teased in calmer times about why, for our own sanity, we do not choose a real holiday destination instead of a conflict zone. Friends and relatives in the Netherlands are now worried. They inquire politely as to our safety and wellbeing. On facebook they see our shared images of dead and wounded children in Gaza, war horrors, anti-war demonstrations, international condemnations, outraged op-eds and petitions calling for immediate ceasefire. Pictures from home of smiling blond kids in green parks and sunny beaches are flickering in glaring contrast to the barrage of depressing feeds from our “vacation.”

"Our family here knows we are appalled by the war and condemn the atrocities in Gaza but there is no point talking about it with them. As Israeli and Dutch citizens who want to see an end to the occupation our politics combined with the fact that we don't live in Israel makes us outsiders, if not outright “traitors.” We are naïve if we don’t see that hitting Gaza hard is necessary in response to the existential threat of Hamas. The weight of the overwhelming support for the war descends upon us daily, heavy and inescapable like the 90% humidity in the air."

"Government propaganda, lies and deceptions to galvanize support for the war is relentless and the Iron Dome system, the system that intercepts Hamas rockets, is just part of it...As we write this, carnage in Gaza and the death of scores of soldiers is authorized to continue. Why? The Israeli narcissism that concerns itself only with IDF casualties while hundreds of bodies pile up in Gaza is nothing new. The logic of war normality we experience here in Tel Aviv just confirms it. The soldiers die so that we can live “normally.” Violence is inevitable because Israel is under attack. One has to be here to understand fully that the legitimacy of this war is not just manufactured top down by the Israeli government. It is a genuine and widespread social reality. Everyone, even those few hundreds opposing the war, us included, take part daily in its production. Take for instance the dynamic of normal routine interrupted regularly by sirens. In no time, these interruptions themselves became a normal routine. We all got used to the “pending emergency” situation. We are all on an emergency-normality switch mode. People stop cars in the middle of the road to seek shelter in nearby buildings only to go back behind the wheel and honk impatiently at the other drivers as if nothing happened; In cafes people nervously react to suspicious sounds, jump from their seats to the sound of sirens, and return seconds later to their relaxed posture sipping their espressos and so on."

"Many Israelis, including very young children, incessantly consume updates on strikes and interceptions through the “red color” app. The app with the red icon on their smartphones is decorated with a sound radiation sign resembling the nuclear danger logo. Authorities, institutions, employers, all heighten security procedures, producing signs, road signs and flyers with instructions on buildings “safe spaces”. Municipalities put on giant billboards with patriotic slogans, one more offensively patriotic than the other. We received a leaflet to parents from the kids’ summer camp advising us on how to maintain “emotional safe spaces” for our children. On TV mainly men talk: brain-dead, repetitive, militaristic tactic-talk. The blogger Idan Landau once aptly called this tsunami of public appearances at times of war zman hagvarim - "the time of men." At the same time, the witch hunt of dissenters has reached epidemic proportions, targeting many, and women especially, who dare speak their minds against the war. Orna Banai, Gila Almagor, Shira Gefen are famous celebrities who were vilified for speaking out; a Palestinian psychologist working for the Lod municipality and many like her got fired for what they posted on facebook."

The situation sounds much like the United States in the year after 9/11 where any dissent on bombing Muslims, any Muslims, was considered treasonous, only the current Israeli version sounds even more claustrophobic and horrifying.

The rally on Sunday seemed more about a show of political and ethnic solidarity than an attempt to win the hearts and minds of any outsiders. It certainly didn't help to have the motorcycle jerks above draped in Israeli and U.S. flags drive around the plaza and barge through crosswalks while nearly running down neighborhood pedestrians who were trying to cross the street.


AphotoAday said...

Nicely done post, Mike.

Axel Feldheim said...

Great pictures showing multiple sides of the event, though clearly there's no lack of confidence on the Israeli side. 2 Sundays ago I came out of BART & into the middle of a pro-Palestine demonstration, apparently much smaller & scrappier than this one & walking in the opposite direction.

Civic Center said...

Dear Donald: Thanks.

Dear Axel: My photo selection is a bit misleading. It really wasn't "two sides" at the event, since there were only about six people dissenting vs. about 1,000 people waving flags. On Monday there was a small (about 50 people) anti-Israel demonstration in the Financial District on Montgomery and Sacramento Streets where the Israeli Consulate is housed, and people were sitting in the street waiting to get arrested. Patrick Vaz works in an adjacent building and I had to stop him from walking through the middle of the thing because I don't particularly trust the police to distinguish between protesters and bystanders.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Actually, my plan was to walk around and not through the middle; I'm not totally clueless. But you were being more prudent than I was.