Friday, January 02, 2009

Dueling demonstrations

Youtube video of a pro-Hamas rally in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, a couple of days ago.

Another video of the same events.

I had read about the video of this rally on a couple of websites (for example, Harry's Place has a post about it), but until I watched it I didn't realize how disturbing I would find it. At a big intersection in the city, a large pro-Hamas demonstration faces a smaller group of pro-Israel demonstrators; they're separated from each other by a main street and the police. The demonstration lasted a couple of hours, and as it grew dark, the pro-Hamas side grew more numerous and eventually people from that group tried to cross the street to confront the pro-Israel group directly, rather than simply hurling insults at them. (The level of political discourse was not very high, let's put it that way). Fortunately, the police intervened and forced them back onto the sidewalk. Had I been part of the pro-Israel group, I would have found it very scary at that point. This was no peaceful demonstration in support of the Palestinian people.

I noticed some signs from A.N.S.W.E.R. in the crowd but wasn't able to see many slogans.

Some slogans - "Free free Palestine," "Allahu Akbar," the Shehada, "Palestine will never die," lots of cars honking their horns.

Update: The Miami Herald has an article about the Ft. Lauderdale rally, with their own video that covers the pro-Israel demonstrators much more thoroughly. One of the pro-Israel demonstrators held a sign saying - "Nuke Gaza Then Iran." They also chant "Stop the missiles," one man chanted "Palestine does not exist," another said, "Jail Hamas then you'll have peace." Most of the pro-Israel demonstrators were pretty aggressive young guys. I don't think I would have felt particularly comfortable standing with them either.

Buffalo anti-Israel demonstration

Just looking through the list of other related videos on Youtube, I found a video of a demonstration on Tuesday in Buffalo. The slogans are less disturbing but not particularly comforting. I certainly wouldn't participate in this rally either. Some slogans: "Down with the occupation," "Down with Israel," then there's a speech by someone with a hoarse voice, and some cries of "Takbir! Takbir! Allahu Akbar!" He says, "Please stop supporting Israel." "Long live Palestine!" And that hoary old chestnut - "The people united will never be defeated!" "Viva Viva Palestina!" "Viva viva intifada!" "Stop bombing Gaza now! Free free Palestine!"

See here for a longer video of this same demonstration in Buffalo.

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