Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Signs of Hatred, Signs of Progress

Whenever pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate we can always count on a bunch of Zionists to counter-demonstrate across the street. I am happy to note that whenever they show up, there are more Jews on our side of the street than they can muster up on theirs. This week, following the IDF’s murderous attack on a humanitarian flotilla bringing aid to Gaza I noticed that as our numbers were larger than ever, they were a much smaller crowd than we’ve seen. At the demonstration at Powell and Market on Monday there were 4 Zionists across the street. Among a few hundred people standing for Palestine I recognized at least several dozen Jewish friends. The next day we filled the sidewalk in front of the Israeli consulate. The Zionist group has always taken up a good section of the sidewalk opposite. This time their diminished numbers had a spacious section in their usual spot while our overflow crowd jammed spaces on either side. On “their” side of the street alone our overflow outnumbered them 4 to 1.

Among their signs insisting that Israel wants peace was one that declared “Until Gaza is Destroyed the Job Isn’t Done.” I guess that sets the terms of their “peace?” For Palestinians it’s the peace of the grave.

Another sign boasted “Israel sends 15,000 tons of aid into Gaza every week.” In centuries past astrologers were called “mathematicians”, so let’s do the math…. Let’s see for 1.5 million people that breaks down to 1 ton for every 100 people, or 20 pounds per person per week or a bit less than 3 pounds per day. At home with the computer that checks out to 2.857142857 pounds per person per day to a people under siege. I have to admit to not knowing what is in there. But for something that is very important… say… how much of it is water? Israel has destroyed the Gazan infrastructure including water filtration. Gazans don’t have access to potable water* so let’s say that if the Israelis were shipping in 2.857142857 pounds of water per person per day – a pound is a pint – so that’s less than 3 pints (1.5 liters) of water per person per day for drinking and washing. Factor any food into the equation and there’s obviously less water. Building materials to provide shelter for the people who were bombed out of their homes? Forget it. Israelis boast openly of keeping the Gazans on a “diet” and intend to starve them out. And here they tout a number that is supposed to look generous, but yeah, do the math and it is more of their boasting that they are committing genocide in slow motion.

“Rid of Islam” was another sign decorated with the Danish cartoon that shows the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) with a bomb in his turban. That image has become an icon for the Islamophobes. It just declares the person who copies it as a hateful idiot. The image isn’t worth reacting to, and really the message is no better, although it reveals a genocidal turn of mind. Trying to eliminate a religion, scapegoating it as a menace to the world has already been tried. Of course Jews should know this better than anyone.

And what are the lessons of the Holocaust? The Zionists seem to see those lessons as an instruction manual. I used to say that Israel was better than Nazi Germany, but that’s an awfully low standard; they should do better. The distinction is harder to maintain. At this point the only difference I can see is in the Wannsee decisions. We always imagine Nazi Germany with the death camps, but those were only in effect after 1942. Comparisons between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto are common and apt. With apartheid and checkpoints in the West Bank and the ghetto/open air prison conditions imposed on Gaza there is little to distinguish Israel’s treatment of Palestinians from the Nazi’s anti-Semitic policies from 1933-1942.

Again, I am happy to say that more and more Jews, realizing the horror being perpetrated in their names, are standing up against it. It is getting harder for Zionists to claim to act in the name of all Jews, and as their numbers and their support within the Jewish community are shrinking. It is clearer every day that criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. Telling a friend or a relative that they have to live by the same rules of civilized society that others are compelled to follow is not an act of hatred. It is often the best thing you can do.

*The Middle East Children’s Alliance is focusing on building water filtration plants at schools so that children can have access to clean, fresh water. Please support this effort by contributing at

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