On Saturday, January 10, 2009, a large rally and march took place in San Francisco to protest Israel's invasion of Gaza. The event was one of a series of similar events held in various cities around the country on the same day, and was organized by ANSWER along with several other far-left, Arab and Muslim groups.
The photos in this report represent what I personally saw that day in San Francisco. Because there were thousands of people in attendance, with innumerable signs, vignettes and scenes playing out every minute in many different locations, I can vouch only for what I myself witnessed.
While the event was advertised as being specifically a protest against the invasion of Gaza, there seemed to me to be an undercurrent of unabashed anti-Semitism. This woman, for example, carried a sign that said "Jews Are Terroist!" ("terrorists," one assumes she meant), and dressed her very cute daughters in matching Palestinian flag outfits.
This fellow, who has made appearances before on zombietime, held a sign saying "SMASH the Jewish State," held together by his trademark binder clips.
Another repeat offender showed up: a protester who claims to be Jewish yet who inevitably displays the most blatantly anti-Semitic handwritten signs. On this day, his placards declared, "Every Zionazi Is a Legitimate Military Target" and "Target All Zionist Businesses." I wouldn't want to be that guy's therapist.
She may condemn Israel as a "monster nation," but at least she concedes it is a nation at all: Many of the speakers at the rally did not even acknowledge Israel's political existence. Nothing more than a temporary occupying force, soon to be brushed away.
"Globalize the Intifada." This is the fundamental message underlying all of these anti-Israel rallies organized by far-left radical groups: They see the Palestinian Intifada as the first wave of attack in a global revolution. Which, in their delusional fantasies, will usher in a secular communist utopia. This goes a long way toward explaining how left-wing groups can possibly give their support to Hamas, which is after all a repressive theocratic regime. (The Bookworm Room blog has now written an interesting essay about this one particular photo and the mindset behind the sign.)
Standing shoulder to shoulder with these leftists at the rally were more traditional Hamas (and Hizbullah) supporters: Muslims (presumably) who support Hamas and Hizbullah because they are Islamic theocracies. Here, this woman shows her sign to the hundreds of Israel supporters rallying on the other side of the street, in front of City Hall.
Remember the family in our first photo? Here they are back at the rally site, taunting the Jews who were counter-protesting across the street. (This photo and the photo below were submitted by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous.)
I didn't notice this at first, but the littlest girl was also carrying a second sign that said "Jews Are Terrorist" (visible on the left).
Later, I encountered Mr. Binder Clips again, and this time I saw the other side of his sign: "The Jewish State Is a Criminal Entity."
[Photo by juklux]
During the march, several of the protesters began burning and then stomping on Israeli flags. While I was trying to photograph some of the stomping (which you'll see below), I managed to just miss getting any pictures of the burning. Luckily, a reader who goes by the name "juklux" sent in three photos, which I present here.
[Photo by juklux]
This one's pretty blurry, but I think it's very clear what's going on.
[Photo by juklux]
I'm not quite sure who "juklux" is, but he or she seems to have been one of the people actually participating in the flag burning, from the angle and close-in position of these photos.
[Video by juklux]
This video of Israeli flag burning and stomping was also taken by juklux and uploaded to YouTube. A must watch!
[Video by juklux]
Another excellent video from juklux which seems to show dancing and (from the looks of it) some more flag-stomping.
Meanwhile, I managed to get just two snapshots of what I think was a separate instance of Israeli flag-stomping. The flag abuse went on for quite a while.
Somewhere there at the bottom under all those feet, barely visible, is an Israeli flag.
After the rally, a few thousand people joined the march through downtown San Francisco; because the counter-protesting Israel supporters decided to not go on the march, every single one of the marchers was anti-Israel -- except for this one guy, who tailed along on the sidewalk carrying what I thought was the most interesting sign of the day.
And yet, with all the flag burning and screaming and traffic-blocking and menacing chants, can you guess who was the only protester to be stopped by police and ordered to leave? That's right -- the single anti-Hamas protester. Figures. The police's given reason, naturally, was that he should leave "for his own protection" and that he shouldn't incite the crowd by expressing a reasonable opinion. Nothing so enrages an unreasonable crowd as a reasonable opinion!
The police gave him a warning and then escorted him away from the march down a side street, as the anti-Israel protesters cheered his departure.
Meanwhile, protesters who openly supported the terrorist organization Hamas and waved the Hamas flag (as seen here) received no warnings at all about inciting the crowd. Which sharply highlights a depressing truth: If you express an opinion, no matter how wrongheaded, you are safe from criticism if enough people share it with you; but if you express an opinion, no matter how insightful, you will be penalized if you stand all alone.
The crowd was pretty hardcore, but there was a contingent of left-wing "progressive" peaceniks who were there in all sincerity protesting for "peace," asking Israel to stop its hostilities. And while some of the more sophisticated extremists pretended to go along with them, posing as more mainstream and also pretending that "peace" was the goal, other pro-Palestinian protesters were more honest about what they seek, such as this group leader who promised "War for ever" against Israel. (I couldn't decide which picture was better, so I've presented two views of the same guy.)
In case you think the woman in our first photo couldn't really have been in the thick of the rally with a sign like that, or that she only displayed it briefly out of embarrassment, think again: She proudly showed it off and even posed with her entire family along with the sign for souvenir shapshots.
Meanwhile, "Terroists for Peace," possibly the most naive group of useful idiots you will ever encounter, marched right alongside her and her fellow anti-Semites, oblivious to reality.
The number of self-proclaimed Jews in the crowd marching in support of Hamas was truly astonishing. Because in a conflict like this, there is no middle group: if you actively oppose one side (Israel), you are helping the other side (Hamas), whether you admit it to yourself or not.
What's so bad about Jews supporting Hamas? Well, for starters, here are some quotes from the Hamas charter:
Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious.
The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews."
Is that clear enough for you?
And no, it's not possible that the non-Palestinians in the crowd were simply unaware of what their fellow protesters felt. They knew. How else can you explain this video, in which apparently middle-class Americans are willingly chanting "Long live the Intifada! Intifada, Intifada!"
By "Free Palestine" he means of course a Palestine extending over the entirety of the territory currently known as "Israel."
Another terroist for justice! This guy was unafraid to wear his yarmulke in the crowd.
Israel's actions not in your name? So, you'd rather that Hamas impose an Islamic police state on the people of Gaza in your name, and wage incessant low-level war against Israel in your name?
This guy is taking the Neturei Karta position -- that the existence of Israel delegitimizes all of Judaism. Nice.
But if you think the pro-Hamas Jews were naive, what about the gay protesters who were there opposing Israel (and by default thereby aiding Hamas)? Are they even aware that under the Hamas regime, gay Palestinians, should any be foolish anough to make themselves known, are executed?
UPDATE: Many people have written in to express amusement at the bizarre misspellings and grammar of the Hebrew portion of the sign (on the left). Zombietime reader Eliyahu gives the clearest explanation:
"The correct Hebrew expression is commonly seen here in Israel in the hands of leftists and other radicals. It means "Enough of the Occupation" (usually translated as "End the Occupation".) Phonetically, it is pronounced "die l'kee-BOOSH" (stress on the final syllable.) What interests me is that the Hebrew on the protester's sign is a phonetic rendition in Hebrew of the slogan, written by someone who knows Hebrew letters but not Hebrew language, and has apparently never seen ANY contemporary Hebrew signs to know that the word ["enough" in Hebrew] is written with two letters, not three. (There is no silent aleph in the middle of the word, as the sign-maker has written.) I can only speculate that it was written by either an American Jew or an Arabic speaker. The Jew would be of the sort often taught technical reading of the Hebrew letters in order to mouth the Jewish liturgy without understanding what they say (like a Catholic reciting the novenas in Latin.) Any Arabic speaker could also look up the form of the Hebrew letters of the "alef-beth" which are fairly congruous to the "alef-bais" of the related Semitic language Arabic, and guess at the sounds. I tend to the former explanation, which also better answers the question of the whom the sign-maker intended as the audience; an American Jew might think that by writing in their crypto-Hebrew they were passing a message to fellow Jews and Israelis. Not."
Yeah, full democratic rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders. Right. Oh wait, silly me, there is a country involved in this conflict where gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders have full democratic rights: it's called Israel. And if you truly wanted freedom and equality for gays and lesbians in the region, you'd be protesting against the harsh shari'a regime of Hamas, under which homosexuality or "gender transgression" of any kind brings an immediate death sentence.
"Just another queer Jew to end the occupation." This is satire -- right? Please tell me you're joking.
Let's ask some of your fellow protesters what they think about queer Jews.
Some of the rowdier Palestinian youths rode on each others' shoulders and chanted things in Arabic through bullhorns.
"Hizbullah beat you ya kilab," says this disturbing sign. "Kilab" means "dogs" in Arabic. In other words, he's calling the Israelis dogs. The rest of the message conveys a sentiment that is currently popular among pundits in the Arab world, that Israel is invading Gaza to regain its manhood after being crushed and humiliated by Hizbullah in 2006.
I've purposely not yet shown any of the Nazi comparisons on display at the rally, because I thought I'd group them all together here for more impact. Swastikas were everywhere.
I'm not quite grasping what you mean, sir. Could you express yourself more clearly?
This is "Ant," a local cartoonist who specializes in making intentionally offensive protest signs that usually flirt with anti-Semitism.
This, actually, was the main message of the rally, taking the Israelis=Nazis correlation to its logical conclusion: If Israelis are Nazis, then the invasion of Gaza is the new Holocaust! How can you argue with logic like that?
Hmmmmm, 800 casualties in the war (as of this writing), 75% of which were Hamas militant enemy combatants, and the remainder being unavoidable civilian casualties caused in nearly every instance by Hamas using women and children as human shields. That's definitely a new Holocaust, no doubt.
Some people didn't want to take it quite that far, and instead compared Gaza to Warsaw. (I can only assume they mean the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. These days, Warsaw is quite a nice place!)
There must have been a pre-rally call for people to make the "Warsaw" comparison, because I saw dozens of signs saying essentially the same thing.
And now, the final step in the progression: Israel (or the Jews or Judaism) isn't just equal to Nazism -- it's actually worse than Nazism, as this equation indicates.
And yes, we had our minor celebrities. Cindy Sheehan showed up sporting a kaffiyeh, and spouted the most ill-informed inanities about Israel you've ever heard. She's still stinging from her overwhelming loss to Nancy Pelosi in the most recent congressional election, and is looking to regain some relevance.
And then there was Paul Larudee (on the right) of the International Solidarity Movement and his fellow anti-Israel activists announcing that they were going to repeat their attempt to sail a ship from Cyprus to Gaza during wartime. (Their first five journeys, before the current hostilities, arrived unopposed, but Israel rebuffed their most recent attempt, not allowing the civilian ship to enter a war zone.)
He popped up later at the ISM booth, which was raking in the cash from willing donors seeking to fund the ISM's aggressive anti-Israeli militancy.
"AmerIsrael" is the name of the combined Zionist entity.
"Fuck Isreal" said this guy's shirt (which unfortunately was covered up by his kaffiyeh).
For the record: Here's the front of the march, with all the ANSWER organizers in neon green vests. As I mentioned earlier, I'm no good at estimating crowd size, but if forced I'd have to guess somewhere around two or three thousand grand total.
And also for the record: Here are the pro-Israel counter-protesters across the street from the main rally. They too had a larger-than-normal crowd, numbering into the hundreds. I didn't venture over there, so I don't have any close-up shots of that side of the action.
A pile of dolls splattered with red paint proved to the world that Israel was committing war crimes.
I've heard of anarchism before. And I've heard of National Socialism before. But "National Anarchism"??? That's a new one on me. And I have this sneaking suspicion that I don't want to know anything more about it.
(OK, I couldn't resist. According to the wikipedia article about National Anarchism, "Green Anarchist published an article accusing National-Anarchists of being state-backed fascist infiltrators with the goal of discrediting mainstream anarchism. Antifa, a militant anti-fascist network, advocates violent physical confrontation with National-Anarchists, whom it considers to be part of the far right." Splendid. Far-right creeps protesting against the Jews alongside far-left creeps. I'm getting this deja vu feeling.)
Remember Che Guevara? Well, he's a Palestinian now.
Earlier, we had "AmerIsrael." Now, it's "Nazisrael." Make up your minds already!
And it wouldn't be a decent protest without an I卐rael sign.
A quintet of Palestine advocates.
I wonder: Will this new mask design begin to replace the standard kaffiyeh/bandanna mask?
Throughout the rally, there was a new name that cropped up all over: Oscar Grant. He was the unfortunate victim of a New Year's Day shooting by a local BART (subway system) policeman (which was either intentional or accidental, depending on whom you ask). Just a few days before this rally, there had been a protest against Oscar Grant's shooting in Oakland that had degenerated into a riot. That protest, unsurprisingly, had been co-organized by ANSWER as well. Almost overnight, Grant has become the new icon of the far left, the poster child for police brutality, and comparisons between Oakland and Palestine and Grant and the Palestinians were commonplace throughout this protest, which theoretically had nothing to do with Oscar Grant or his shooting. This sign was a prime example: "End Government Sponsored Murder in the Ghettos of Oakland and Palestine."
This one lays out the comparison very clearly: The police shooting Oscar Grant is equivalent to the Israelis shooting at Gazans.
All the communist and socialist groups jumped on the bandwagon.
An interesting aspect of this picture is the banner on the right which calls for a "Democratic secular Palestine." Under Hamas, Gaza was turned from a secular society into a theocracy governed by shari'a law. And yet these socialist groups still support Hamas -- the very Hamas which destroyed secularism in Gaza -- believing in the insane pipe dream that, once freed from Israeli influence, Palestine will become a communist nation. It is my opinion that this impossible communist fantasy is what drives the Left's support for Palestine. In the early '70s, the Palestinians began using socialist buzzwords and phraseology, and the American (and European) left fell for it like a ton of bricks, and have been falling ever since.
"Fruitvale" is the name of the BART station where Oscar Grant was shot. And you'd think that the "Gray Panters" would know how to spell their own name correctly. Truly pathetic. Also notice the Birkenstocks.
Even "Ant" joined in with the Oscar Grant comparisons (it is theorized that the policeman who shot Grant thought he was drawing his tazer instead of his gun, and shot Grant accidentally thinking he was just going to give him an electrical shock). Also notice his "Same War -- different Gook" shirt.
Now, people from conservative "middle America" not familiar with the San Francisco political landscape might dismiss everyone at this rally as "a bunch of Obama voters" -- such as this drummer with a truly spooky deified sinister Obama shirt. But...
...in truth, most people there were anti-Obama. Why? Because he's not left-wing enough! In particular, Obama's campaign appearance at a meeting of AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobbying group) infuriated many potential far-left voters who hoped that he would change U.S. policy and be pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel once elected.
So, Obama has already failed the socialist litmus test in their eyes, and now "Zionists Love Obama."
Worse than that -- he's the "enemy of world's working people!"
And the ultimate condemnation: Obama is nothing but a "fascist lackey."
After the march, the rally sort of fizzled out; the counter-protesters were already gone, the hangers-on drifted away, and only a few hardcore radicals listened to the rest of the speeches.
I suspect ANSWER had hoped that this protest would have grown into something larger -- a mass movement, or perhaps a riot at least -- but there was no violence, no confrontations, and the vast majority of San Franciscans just continued shopping and sipping cappuccino, unaware that a rally had even happened.