These photos were taken at the anti-Israel protest that coincided with the Alan Dershowitz lecture in Zellerbach Hall on the U.C. Berkeley campus, Thursday, April 29, 2004.
Tensions were running high prior to this event. Considering the virulence of the Daniel Pipes protest in February at Cal, and that Dershowitz had been surrounded by a raging mob after a lecture in Boston in March, the U.C. Police were expecting a major confrontation.
But it never materialized. Hours before the lecture was scheduled to start, a rumor circulated through the gathering crowd of protesters that Dershowitz had not shown up, and that the lecture was cancelled. The protest deflated. The rally had no focal point without Dershowitz there, so many of the protesters apparently just left. A comparatively small group stayed on, but there wasn't much enthusiasm in the air.
It turned out the rumor was only half true. Dershowitz had indeed cancelled his trip due to an attack of shingles. But he was going to give his lecture anyway, via a live satellite TV link.
Despite the meager turnout, I circulated in the crowd to see what I could see.
One of the protesters took anti-Judaism to a new level. Her beef had nothing to do with the Palestinians. Canaan was the name of the area around Jerusalem in the pre-Biblical era. I asked the woman what she meant by the sign, and she replied that the Jews' crimes dated back 4,000 years, and that they had no right to be in the Near East at all, since they had stolen the land from the Canaanites to begin with. Perhaps if there had been fellow protesters holding signs that said "Saxons out of Britannia," "Franks out of Gaul," or perhaps even "Cro-Magnons out of Europe," it might have seemed like a valid point.
No protest would be complete without a few direct comparisons between the United States and Nazi Germany. But comparing Iraq with Russia...hmmm, that's a new twist...
The sign in the lower left reads, "Embrace Justice, Renounce Aliya." Aliya means the act of Jews moving to and then living in Israel. The implication is -- what? Jews should evacuate Israel?
A member of the International Solidarity Movement explains the evils of the Separation "Wall."
The ISM's own in-house brand of olive oil.
Because Zellerbach opened early and was letting in anyone with a ticket, most of the Dershowitz supporters just went directly inside as soon as they arrived. As a result, almost all the people milling around outside were part of the anti-Israel crowd. There were very few people for them to argue with, so the protest never really picked up steam. Here, a woman with a bullhorn was doing her best to stir up some emotions by attacking Israel at top volume, but no one was paying much attention.
Another protester took over the bullhorn and did manage to attract an Israel supporter, who started up a conversation with her. He was pretty lackadaisical, though, as he paid more attention to his cup of frozen yogurt than he did to the discussion.
There was a bit of excitement when a policeman stepped in between the two and started admonishing the frozen yogurt guy, telling him not to cause problems. Then an actual argument broke out when the FYG complained that he was the calm one, and that the woman with the bullhorn was the one doing all the yelling; he said the cop was unfairly picking on him. Their bickering only lasted a minute or two, though.
Shortly therafter, some sort of scuffle erupted between the Palestinian flag-waver and a bystander, but it quickly dissipated. That was the biggest drama of the evening.
The flag-waver re-assumes his post; behind him, the evening's MC, radio DJ John Rothman (holding a book), confidently engages the protesters in a debate.
Inside Zellerbach, two irrepressibly cheerful students sold copies of Dershowitz's book.
Dershowitz, suffering from shingles, managed to make his appearance anyway from a TV studio in Boston, from where his lecture was shown live via satellite.
When the lecture was over, the crowd filed out of the hall, expecting a confrontation with the protesters. Instead, Lower Sproul Plaza was eerily deserted. The protesters had long ago all packed up and left.