Sunday, July 23, 2006

We Sweat, But We Stand With Israel

The Balabusta's report on the San Francisco Jewish Community's Israel Rally at Justin Herman Plaza today, respectfully submitted:

For me, a rally begins when you're on public transit, lurching along, and trying to figure out which of the people on the BART train are also going to the rally. Not the bike guys, they're talking about riding in the mission. The woman with the Israel/U.S. flag pin on her "Galilee Comes To The Bay" shirt? Too easy. But how about the older ladies in the sun visors over there? Hmmm...something says yes...

As we disembark and start streaming upstairs it gets easier. Conversations begin to stand out. Speaking Russian? Ours. Speaking Hebrew? Ours. Speaking English, talking about how a cousin in Jerusalem may or may not be coming to visit? Ours. Tring to convince father that they should go to CompUSA and buy the new game after the rally...and so on.

We're having a heat wave here in NoCal, and it was hot, oh, God, was it ever hot. Lots of flags, lots of signs. JCRC was selling "Pro Israel, Pro Peace" t-shirts for five bucks, so I bought one and pulled it over my own shirt, which was a mistake. Sweating through my clothes kind of hot.

The event was MCed by John Rothman, who I've known for approximately forever. Present to speak were--let me see--Dianne Feinstein, a congressman whose name I didn't catch, Doug Huneke, SF Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Nonie Darwish, an Israeli woman from JCRC who grew up in one of the northern towns, Danny Grossman, and the voice of the mayor of Haifa via speakerphone. Gavin Newsom attended, but did not speak. Schwartzenegger was at the LA rally, but sent someone from his SF office who gave a nice address. Some other people, who I'm sure I will remember after I post this.

Bevan Dufty got up to speak and said that with a good Irish name like Bevan Doyle Dufty, people can always tell that he's gay, but not so many realize that he's Jewish. (Gotta love the Jewish-ands. We rock.) After he finished his speech, and told the crowd a little about his soon-to-be-born daughter, I heard someone saying "who was that?" as he walked off the stage. I turned my head. "Bevan Dufty," I said.

"WHO?" Remember, this is over the roar of what DiFi guesstimated at about 700 people. I turn my head, and right there is the Balabusta's former boss for all of four months, a certain left-wing Zionist Renewal rabbi and magazine editor, with his wife. "BEVAN DUFTY," I shout.


"Supervisor Bevan Dufty, from District Eight."


Not a flicker of recognition. I guess I didn't make much of an impact in his life.


At some point I decided that I needed to move out of my up-by-the-barricades, getting grilled like a trout, location, so I wandered back to see what the counterprotest situation was. I was immediately met by a JCRC representative--crisp-shirted in the heat--who wanted us to ignore the counterprotesters, because looking at them would give them publicity, which was what they wanted. "OK," said the Balabusta, and kept heading toward the barricades.

He actually sort of got in my way, and made it clear that they REALLY did not want people going over there. I lost my temper a little. I have a rather low level of tolerance for the organized Jewish community, sometimes.

"Look," I said. "I want to see what the turnout over there is like. I have family who can't be here today, and friends in Israel who will want to know. I am not going to start a slanging match with those guys. I'm going to look and go back to the rally. And I am allowed to go anywhere I want in Justin Herman Plaza."

He did kind of a nervous laugh. "Of course you are..." he said. Anyway, dude, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. I really did just look at them and come back. Maybe I overreacted.

I don't think they had even forty, which made me feel good---we were so outnumbered last Monday. Turnabout, like they say.

Anyway, a good time was had by all. Let me close with something John Rothman said, which I'm sure I paraphrasing a little:

"We are not divided. We are Democrats, we are Republicans, we are liberal, we are conservative, we are black, we are white, we are Asian, we are Christians, we are Jews. We are here united, to stand with Israel and for peace."

Omeyn v'omeyn.


The back of the hill said...

I was ever so glad I brought water. I dripped and stank.

More to the point, I haven't clue what any of the speakers said - the sound system was lousy, and the background noise lessened intelligibility.

The only one of the speakers I knew personally was Danny Grossman, and because I was nearer the outskirts of the crowd with my sign facing the filistini, I did not even know he was there.

Did you see my sign?

Blue, with white lettering.
Text: Destroy Hezbollah.
Smaller text: Nix to Filistinist entities' extremism.

I'm kinda proud of the snarky reversal of the Arab term for Israel.

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

No, I didn't spot it. I had one of the big professional things they handed out to the crowd. I should get my own sign, shouldn't I?

I'm planning to get some work clothes soon, so I walked up to Macy's after to look at clothes, and then realized I couldn't possibly try anything on. I was damp. And the cologne and deodorant I put on after my shower was no longer working.