Monday, August 6, 2007

Vienna Street Protest Against the Israeli Occupation -- Friday, August 3, 2007

“Also,” as they say around here, I was walking down the crowded Grabnerstrasse last Friday, and I saw around fifteen people holding up signs protesting “forty years of Israeli occupation.” Needless to say, I felt a swirl of emotions. On the one hand, to see signs against Israel in German was “nicht gemütlich,” to say the least. I mean, how dare these guys criticize my country! It doesn’t bother me when Finkelstein or Chomsky or Judt do it – they are part of the tribe. And even though this is a serious human rights issue, one that disturbs me all the time – but never enough -- don’t these Austrians have something better to do on a Friday afternoon? What about their foreign worker problems? What about Darfur?

Then I kept looking at them and I noticed that they were all wearing black, and I said to myself, “Hey, this must be the Friday afternoon ‘People in Black’ demonstration sponsored by ‘Women in Black’ worldwide.” And all of a sudden I felt much better – because it turns out that they and I belonged to the same tribe – or club, anyway -- after all. And this was the same Friday activity that I have occasionally participated in, albeit in Jerusalem and in the US.

Did I join them? – No, it was erev Shabbat, I had other things to do, and I was still a little ambivalent – but my heart lightened considerably.

It’s about coalitions, people – coalitions.

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