Israel is currently attempting to bring some order to the arid Gaza miasma of HAMAS's rocket-firing pseudo-state. Israeli Air Force is firing missles and dropping bombs on their enemies, killing people, blowing up things and wreaking havoc on the ground. Today Israeli troops are on the ground, again in Gaza, fighting and killing and destroying. There are some in Canada, in Vancouver, who have a legitimate reason to express their violent hatred of Israel's actions: they are those who have family, friends, and fellow Gazans in harm's way. Some of them were in the public square Saturday afternoon protesting Israeli actions in Gaza. It makes sense to me that they would do so. One shouldn't expect cold reason to prevail in a war where civilians are expressing themselves. Thus, here in Vancouver, a crowd of roughly of, according to local radio station CKNW, perhaps 250 people braved a snow-storm to protest in the central business district at Robson Square at the main entrance on the steps and plaza of the Art Gallery. I was one of them. I protested the protesters.
Half a dozen city police had a short one-block strip closed off for the demonstration. I approached from the east at Chapters Bookstore and went into the crowd, me wearing my baseball cap with the Israeli flag showing on the crest. It was, as one might expect, an angry and emotional mob around me, huddled close to stay warm in the falling snow. The slush on the ground was, in places, ankle deep, the street slippery and dangerous to navigate. And the press of hostile demonstrators made the walk through more difficult yet. I stood in the middle of the crowd and listened impatiently to a young woman bleat platitudes about that which she obviously has no real grasp of: war. Very likely, some in the crowd know war too well. The girl bleating made no impression on them, I am sure. Others didn't need her self-generated fervour to instill a further hatred. Most just shivered from the cold. Sentimentalities do nothing effective. Still, it worked for the speaker. And really, what else was she there for?
I suffered the cold and the silliness of the girl shouting into the bull-horn. She finally ended in a rising, near hysterical pitch that to the detached observer seemed a fair imitation of an orgasmic wail. Words escape me. One must assume she left the stage and had a cigarette.
I made my way through the throng, looking for anyone who might have braved the chill and the wet and the jihadis, the HAMAS flags giving that game away, the checkered kaffiyyahs flitting like flies on a dung heap, and made my way to the far side of the crowd. There I spotted across the street three people holding Canadian and Israeli flags. I exited the throb of chthonic revellers and made my way to friendly folk, who, unfortunately, were disturbed to see me making my relentless way toward them. Yes, decades of archaeological fieldwork in some of the world's less pleasant hell-hole have left some craggy lines on my smiling face, but I'm a friendly guy to know, if not to look at. That took some convincing. OK, it might take more convincing yet. Regardless, I added myself to the small contingent of protesters protesting the jihadis and tried not to smile at anyone lest I be accused of Human Rights violations.
The mob, hyped-up and ready to be rabid, assembled itself for a march through the slush around the block, more to tie up traffic and stay warm that to make any meaningful point at all. My new associates and I stood watching them as they marched past, one detaching himself to try to compare the Holocaust and the current fighting in Gaza. Heavy snowflakes fell, one landing on the jihadi's long eyelashes where it stayed unmoving till I left him in disgust.
The jihadis have at least a genuine emotional commitment to jihad for family and cultural reasons. One must accept that as it is and carry on. We did carry on, in search of shelter and warmth, a place for lunch and discussion, leading us to a small cafe where we briefly encountered a couple in their 80s, the man of the family an opinionated fool who trotted out cliches in lieu of thought, leaving me with a deep depression: that one can live a very long life and not live at all ones own life of the mind. And as I turned from this old fool, there came the throng again, up the street, chanting and growling a deep hatred, a genuine hatred. That's what a HAMAS rally is all about. I've been to a few of them, this one being constrained by far in comparison, this one being "Canadian."
How long then, till the Canadian veneer wears through? My new companions were shaken and rattled by the intensity of the emotion from the mob, one of ours trying desperately to light a cigarette, unsuccessfully. No violence in action today, but one must wonder how long that will remain the case here. Maybe things will carry on as before. There are acceptably Canadian ways of expressing ones hatred of Modernity and Human decency, which HAMAS jihadis and their idiot cheerleaders did on the streets yesterday. Those few of us who stood in protest of them and in favor of the Good were unmolested other than by idiocy, a common but bearable affliction in this our world of Man.
Another day come and gone, some dead, some born, and the world spins without a care.