There was a roar. It echoed through the marble facades downtown and into the shops and malls. It was the voices and shouts of angry people. Lots of angry people. I have seen many protests, and been involved in quite a few myself, but there is always something uneasy that happens when people seem to be protesting.... you.
Dianna says this is not so, that the thousands and thousands of people protesting Israel's war with Gaza were angry at a. Israel and b. a pro-Israel U.S., and not at all angry with c. young Jews like myself. Certainly I have no reason to think so. The protesters were angry, yes. They were peaceful and non-confrontational, and were happy to mug for the media, as all smart protesters should. They had loud and catchy slogans like:
"2,4,6,8 Israel is a terrorist state"
"Gaza forever! Gaza will never die!"
"What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now."
They also had young children carrying signs that said "Stop the Israeli Holocaust," or that had pictures of the Israel flag with an "X" over it. The messages were all acceptably P.C., but hey, we're all aware of the largely UN-PC enmity under the surface on both sides. Also: please notice the people in the above right picture screaming out of a megaphone are about 9 years old.
I believe in the state of Israel, but we are clearly losing the media battle here. The crowd was largely Arab / Muslim, but the non-religious left were there in good numbers as well. The Israeli-Palestinian war has been waged for so long and with so much spin that sometimes you struggle with all the messages and talking points you've internalized. You want to argue with them, and you also want to absorb some of their message.
It made me remember one of the reasons why I got out of protesting in the first place. I liked the causes in 2000, but I there were always rabid anti-Israel protesters crashing the completely unrelated event. Their clear hatred and fury was appalling, and I felt complete disconnect from their cause and emotional-state. Plus, like most protesters, they were ideologues and refused all countering arguments. To me, they were crazies.
Today, in 2009, the past met the present. The protesting crowd had all the familiar elements from "my day," but this time the cause had shifted, and I didn't know which side of the police barriers I belonged on.