An Unlikely Sight
I was walking towards downtown last Sunday (27th June, 2010), after parking my car on a side-street away from the major demonstrations and chaos when I heard pro Palestinian chants. As I got closer I could make out a Palestinian flag and some Israeli flags as well.
I heard chants such as “The state of Israel is illegal” and “Down with the Zionist criminals”. I have heard many such chants in my lifetime and considering that this week-end Toronto was filled with protesters of all forms and creeds, I was not surprised. What puzzled me though was the fact that I saw a bunch of orthodox Jews holding the Palestinian flag. It was also an elderly rabbi who was using a megaphone chanting all those anti-Zionist slogans.
I felt rather stupid to be frank about it. I would have never thought I would see orthodox Jews talking about how the state of Israel is giving all Jews a bad name by oppressing the Palestinian people of Gaza and West Bank. This incident was obviously needed to erase my ignorance regarding this subject.
I knew from before that not all Jews agree with the militant techniques of the state of Israel. In university I was part of a group called “Shalom / Salam”, which was made-up mostly of Palestinians and Jews who tried to build a bridge between the two groups. Thus, I knew that many people on both sides of the camp are sick of the violence and hatred which has dominated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. What I did not know was the ferocity of orthodox Jews when the topic of Zionism comes up. I must bow to them for that.
I stood in disbelief watching one orthodox rabbi speaking about the atrocious acts of the Zionist militants while a circle of curious people was slowly forming. Soon enough, there were Jews who showed up with Israeli flags and they started harassing the rabbi on the megaphone and those surrounding him. One man kicked one of their banners while an elderly woman asked for some of their pamphlets. When she received one she ripped it to shreds and threw the pieces on the ground. The crowd opposing the protesting orthodox Jews was beginning to get very angry, nearing violence so I stood with my camera ready to shoot.
Playing stupid at one point, I asked a younger Jew if this was Jews fighting Jews.
“These are not Jews! I don’t know what they are. They are crazy people! A disgrace!” he told me.
I personally do not know much about Jews but I do know what an orthodox Jew looks like and those guys with the anti-Zionism banners were definitely Jews no matter what the younger kid told me.
I was glad to see Jews speaking against the horrific actions which the Zionist state of Israel is pursuing and has been pursuing for many, many years now. I was encouraged to see once again Jews who do not support the suppression of the Palestinian people and who preach peace and harmony. It was indeed a great experience from which I had something to learn and I am ultimately thankful for.
For anyone interested in this subject follow the link: http://www.israelversusjudaism.org/how-to-help.cfm