There’s been a lot of attention placed on antisemitism at Palestinian solidarity rallies, particularly in Europe (the ADL has tried to make the same case for protests in the United States, but their evidence amounts mostly to a handful of signs comparing Israel to Nazis).
What’s been given less attention is the blatant extremism of the pro-Israel movement in the U.S.
Yesterday a friend and I attended a solidarity rally with Gaza outside the CNN Center in Atlanta. The organizers of the event worked with the American Friends Service Committee, a pacifist quaker organization, and made clear in their organizing instructions that we were not there to agitate against any religion or ethnic group and that it would not tolerate hate.
The rally was pretty refreshing and free of the hyperbole you see at a lot of Palestinian solidarity events. I only saw one sign directly comparing Israel to the Nazis, and a kid who looked like he was twelve and made it himself was holding it, so he’s got a little time to learn the unhelpfulness of that comparison.
Here are some pictures courtesy of my friend @brassiest.
The crowd was multi-ethnic, including black, white, and brown people, Muslims, Jews, and atheists. I would say the crowd was majority Muslim, but it still had the diversity you don’t typically see at pro-Israel events.
Unfortunately, you can’t say the same for the pro-Israel protesters at the event (who appeared to be the same crowd that held a larger rally earlier this week that, sadly, Jason Carter attended). Here’s some of the nice fellows on that side:
These individuals were carrying rifles and hand guns that appeared to be semi-automatic (I’m not an expert on weapons, so I can’t really say what they were).
When I first encountered them I sort of assumed they just showed up — Islamophobic nuts who wanted to show off their Wal-Mart weapons to a largely Muslim crowd.
Then I went on the Facebook page of the event and it appears that one of the organizers, Ronen Asher, who writes on his profile page that he’s originally from Tel Aviv, invited them:
Then there was rhetoric like this from protestors, who explained to the press: “This is not about Israel vs. Gaza, this is about a religion that values life versus a religion that values death.” Keep in mind that this is what one of them was willing to say directly to a reporter:
This is who politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are siding with and pandering to.
As far as I know, nobody from AFSC called the Atlanta PD to make sure they could protect us from these guys.
UPDATE: Had to add this pic, the hat is too good