Sunday, August 06, 2006
I won't write reams of prose about yesterday's protest beyond noting that it was much bigger than July 22 (police said 20,000). Amongst the most important people there were the Hasidic Jews in full regalia up to their big furry hats in the sweltering August sunshine. I think it's fair to say that they were among the star attractions, with Muslim families lining up to have their pictures taken with them and thanking them for their presence there. Whatever else this demonstration did or didn't accomplish (and there will no doubt be much 'expert analysis' of the inchoate and unfocused demands of the protesters, of the uncomfortably pro-Hizballah slogans and propaganda that were floating around, of the ironic apathy of 'not in my name' protests) - whatever else is said about this way of doing politics, its ability to draw people into a public sphere - quite literally, get them off their arses and on to the streets - brings people who may not ordinarily have encountered each other face to face. And for one brief moment there is a shadow of recognition that despite all the differences into which we are socialised, we do have some things in common, some visceral reactions that are so remarkably similar that either they are instinctual (my less preferred explanation), or all value systems are saying at least some things in common. Whatever else you want to say about yesterday, some Muslim kid somewhere in all those thousands realised that all Jews weren't bad. And some Jewish kid somewhere realised that being Jewish didn't mean you had to endorse everything Israel did. And maybe some adults too.