The proud supporters of Hamas, including so-called "peace activists" formally allied with religious extremists, seem to own our streets in Vancouver and other Canadian cities of late. It's not all bad news; I joined a protest Thursday evening in solidarity with Israel as it continues to bring the war to Hamas' home turf.There was an over-flow crowd at the Schara Tzedek synagogue last evening, maybe a thousand people, the centre seats, both sections on either side, and the balcony filled to capacity and beyond, a few people in the foyer. As some would leave, others would enter and take their places. They came, this large congregation of concerned people, to show support for Israel in this time of need. The need is to show support of Israel. Shameful as it is, too few are doing so. Many support the handful of hate-gorged HAMAS protesters who stood across two street corners to bleat a poorly constructed rehash of the old '60's chant, "Hey, hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?" Today's hippie-wannbes came up with the dysphonic, "Hey, Hey, Israel. How many kids did you kill today?"
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I slid up and down the staircase in the snow to the main entrance where I presented my opened-up bag for inspection, assuming that would be required to allow me in; but to my surprise, no go: the bag had to stay outside or me too. I stuffed books in my coat pockets till I ran out of room, and then carried the rest in my hands. I looked for friends and associates inside the lobby, seeing many people friendly but none known to me. I made my way indoors and spotted one person I know-- and one I knew. Nobody's perfect, and maybe that one is me. So I sat near the one I know, and chatted up the man next to me. I didn't know what to expect from the evening, and I was looking for friends rather than at the programme for the evening. I might have benefitted from doing the latter, as the former was a bomb.
I found myself in a subdued and, dare I say it? a kind of normal and friendly gathering of people who came to listen to intellectuals speaking and to watch videos from Israel. I'm always pleased by that, but I got caught entirely off-guard by the singing the national anthem sprung on me: I stood up and began the first words of "America the Beautiful" [ :o ] before I realized I'm not in America. Canada, to my embarrassment, has a national anthem of its own, which I don't know the words to. I did get lucky, though, because it was followed by a solemn singing of Hatikvah. I could at least mumble my way through that in Hebrew. Canadians are either extremely generous or very complacent about the folks they let into this place to stay for far too long. Well, God Bless Canada. Then began a series of sitting down and standing up again over the course of a few hours, sometimes to clap for speakers, sometimes for prayer, sometimes, (I do wonder,) only to circulate the blood. And memorable? Two things: the man sitting in front of me who chuckled halfway through an anecdote, (impressing me with his cleverness in knowing what was coming down the proverbial road long in advance of its arrival), and the singing of Hatikva. And the other second thing memorable was the feeling of calm and hope that settled through the group as we lived there together in peace for a few hours. My last rally-going was one filled with hate that filled me with hatred, a pro-HAMAS rally. This pro-Israel rally, a misnomer for it, this gathering of people in a state of hope and peace, was beauty in itself. I remember this feeling from other occasions. I want to live with that feeling all of my life. Another second memorable thing I recall was the low-key singing of what I am pleased to call a Jewish gospel tune, a thousand middle-class people singing a joyous tune like those I attended at the Pentecostal church in New Orleans when I was a boy, though here, unlike the Black ladies and the fire-and-brimstone preacher singing Gospel!-- Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!-- I saw among the thousand, a hundred Chasidic men looking like band members from Z-Z Top slowly dancing along and singing and living a Love. A Love and the Hope. Hatikva.
What do you do with a dozen creepy lunatics on the street corner who threaten these people and their children with murder?
Zeal? Hamas is the Arabic word for zeal. I'm happy to say that many Christians have gotten over that particular evil, most of it directed at Jews over the centuries. The last second thing I remember, and the one thing I'm going to forget as much as I forget my math lessons, is the dhimmi Anglican who had to pose as a nice guy in touch with his sensitivities and who expressed them for us in public and ya ya.
But though that kind of thing isn't for me, neither was the gathering I attended meant for me: it was for people concerned about their lives and the lives of their children, about the lives of those under threat of death by jihadis and lunatic Left dhimmi fascist anti-Semites, and plainly, demonstrably stupid people who involve themselves in a struggle they do not understand. Zeal abounds among the hate-filled, but I witnessed none of it inside the synagogue, even among people who are living with the threat of murder, even among those who know family and friends have been murdered by those who love zeal over life, who hate for its own sake, for the sake of zeal itself. Those people I sat with, they have Hope. And that is the last thing, second to none, I will remember from the evening. Hatikva.
|כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה||Kol 'od balleivav penimah||As long as in the heart, within,|
|נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,||Nefesh yehudi homiyah,||A Jewish soul still yearns,|
|וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה,||Ul(e)fa'atei mizrach kadimah,||And onward, towards the ends of the east,|
|עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה;||'Ayin letziyon tzofiyah;||An eye still gazes toward Zion;|
|עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,||'Od lo avdah tikvateinu,||Our hope is not yet lost,|
|הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם,||Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim,||The hope of two thousand years,|
|לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,||Lihyot 'am chofshi be'artzeinu,||To be a free people in our land,|
|אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.||Eretz-tziyon vy(e)rushalayim.||The land of Zion and Jerusalem.|