Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Protesters in Neon, and Protesters in Camouflage

While other bloggers have gone on to other topics, at least some of the time, I find that I cannot relax and write about things not related to the past war and the protests surrounding it. Part of this is because I think that how Israel reacts now - and the decisions and actions it takes - have far reaching consequences, and blogging is the only thing I can do at this point. I am looking from the side in increasing trepidation that nothing is being learned, and that Israel is going back to sleep.

So why don't I go and join the protesters in Jerusalem?

To be honest, I would love to. But the problem is is that I would cause more harm than good if I went.

You see, I am a "neon" protester. Since the protest movement against the disengagement plan, anyone visibly national Orthodox (women wearing hats or scarves covering their hair or men wearing knitted skullcaps) is automatically colored neon orange (the color associated with Gush Katif) - and takes up the spotlight, whether we want to or not. The media focusses on us, to the exclusion of any secular people around. Don't believe me? Read here where Jerusalem Jo, a new blogger who is a secular/believing Jew and right wing, describes how this happens in his post giving some cultural background to the political situation in Israel.

Another example is the Orange Cell group.What, you don't remember the Orange Cell - the Student Movement against the disengagement plan? Well, I can't blame you. The media almost completely ignored them because they did not represent a religious group. They held a hunger strike outside of the Prime Minister's Office, and they took a part in the three days in Kfar Meimon - but got little press. This despite very creative gimmicks (orange graduation caps, intelligent and humorous signs) which should have given even the most dull-witted reporter the angles he needed for a report.

Why is this a problem? Because when the people demonstrating are identified as being both Orthodox and residents of Judea and Samaria (settlers, in other words) the entire demonstration loses its legitimacy. A lot of secular Israelis are afraid or embarrassed to be associated with us in any way, shape or form, because of the years of demonization that we have suffered in the media. And this, in turn, keeps them from coming out to demonstrate - even if they agree with us 100% percent. (I have a few secular acquaintances who have told me this directly - it is not my imagination). The secular people who are not afraid of this stigma are ignored - as if they are wearing camouflage.

I am not the only Dati Leumi person who is afraid to show up in Jerusalem. My yishuv e-mail box has the usual stuff, and includes emails being circulated depicting the horror stories from reserve soldiers, and calls to sign various petitions. I have also received a request to attend the demonstration on Thursday night for the kidnapped soldiers. But I have not read one thing calling on us to go to the demonstrations in the Rose Garden in Jerusalem.

This is deliberate. Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now has reportedly already claimed that the demonstrations are political and "orange", and the people on my "side of the politcal pond" who usually organize our communities have been conspicuously quiet.

So, if the only thing I can do now is blog - then I might as well bring to your attention some of the things that the "camouflaged" camp is saying.

Ari Shavit has another excellent piece in Haaretz. He says that we are in a much more dangerous situation than we were at the end of the Yom Kippur War - and that the changes we need to make are much larger than just replacing some leaders at the top. He calls on everyone to go to the Rose Garden in Jerusalem to join the reserve soldiers, "where Israel is beginning to deal with itself".

Yuval Steinitz, Likud MK and the chairman of the previous Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, analyzes the problems pointed out in the failures of the past war, and says the following in an interview in the Jerusalem Post:

"There was a kind of hysteria in Israel - a fashion, almost - on the part of the public, the media and popular culture about the need to cut the defense budget. As if to say, "Enough already! We're a normal country, and anybody who says otherwise doesn't know what he is talking about. In this cultural milieu, security is art, culture, health, social justice. Security is everything but security. Well, that's all over now. Suddenly we opened our eyes and understood that there are real threats out there."

This is part of his assertion that the intelligence that the government had about Hizballah was excellent - but it was ignored by those who needed to make crucial decisions, because of distorted perceptions. If there is anyone in Israel who can say "I told you so" Steinitz is the one - because he did, literally. Read the whole interview


Blogger bec said...

it's so obnoxious that people on the same side as the settlers would opt out of their own protests or be discouraged from protesting because they don't want to be associated with the settlers. i mean, we're all jews. it's not like protesting on the same side as the kkk or the islamofascists, g*d forbid.
i would think that finally coming together with a common goal would be seen as a positive, not another point of contention.

6:50 AM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

bec- you have no idea how thoroughly we have been demonized here. Hopefully, by the time you come to live here, it will have changed.

9:27 AM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

I had the doubtful pleasure to hear Yariv Oppenheimer trying to prove that the demos are politically motivated (read right-wing). He is an idiot, sorry to say.

Whatever are my personal disagreements with anti-disengagement crowd, there is a non-partizan concensus re the Lebanon affair.

But anyhow, you need to relax, WBM - this is not the last war, unfortunately. Have to keep cool.

4:06 PM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Hmmm...I LIVE in Jerusalem and haven't gone to the protest--for much the same reasons plus the fact that I'm brand new here. The vatikim might look askance at a newcomer on the barricades.

6:33 PM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger Scott said...

So, modify your uniform.

3:27 AM, August 31, 2006  
Blogger Batya said...

I visited the Movement for Quality in Government protest. My daughter is one their lawyers.
You can see her in one of the pictures.

9:16 AM, September 08, 2006  
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