Solidarity With Israel Rally, San Francisco, July 23, 2006

On Saturday, July 23, a coalition of Bay Area Jewish groups held a pro-Israel rally at San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza, ostensibly to counter the many anti-Israel rallies held by activist groups over the previous weeks.

Over 1,000 people showed up in support of Israel's military response to the actions by Hamas and Hezbollah -- a far larger crowd than had shown up at any of the anti-Israel protests.

The day's star attraction was Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who seemed a little puffy-faced compared to the way she normally looks, possibly due to Botox abuse.

In case you're wondering why a pro-Israel rally would have a Democratic politician speaking at it: the vast majority of the mainstream Bay Area Jewish groups that sponsored the rally are generally "liberal" or "progressive" in their outlook, and Feinstein is popular with them. Since Israel is viewed by many Jewish groups as a bastion of liberal values in a region of oppressive and reactionary regimes, they naturally rally to its defense in times of crisis.

Feinstein did not mince words, and gave one of the strongest pro-Israel speeches I've ever heard from an American politician. She even quoted from the Hamas charter and from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, both explicitly stating they intend to utterly destroy Israel.
(Click on the image above to play the video. [To view this video directly on the YouTube site, click here.] Below each video on this page is an exact transcription of the speaker's words.)

Dianne Feinstein: "I am very proud to be here today to join with you as we stand in support and solidarity with the state of Israel. The United States and Israel have been staunch allies now for over 50 years. We share common values: freedom, democracy, the rule of law. And time after time we have rallied to each other's side in defense of our values.
Let there be no doubt: Israel was subjected to unprovoked, unjustified attacks from terrorists on both the north and southern borders. Remember, it was Israel that pulled out of Lebanon. Remember, it was Israel that pulled out of Gaza, that brought her people out, that dismantled the synagogues, that moved out thousands of people from Gaza. And the result on both the north and the south have been rocket attacks. Rocket attacks from Lebanon, and rocket attacks from Gaza. Members of Hamas, that we, our country, designated a terrorist organization, penetrated a sovereign Israeli border, killed two Israeli soldiers, kidnapped another. Hezbollah, another designated terrorist organization, crossed Israel's border with Lebanon, killed eight Israeli soldiers, and took two others hostage. Both of these actions are clear acts of war. Hezbollah has possessed over 14,000 Iranian and Syrian rockets before the conflict began, has launched over 1,500 rockets into Israel, including 800 that have hit Israeli towns and communities. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza, Hamas has fired over 1,000 rockets against Israel. And Israel has responded, as any nation would, to violations of her sovereign border and to unprovoked attacks against its cities and her people. Hezbollah, Damascus, Tehran could end this now with the release all of Israeli soldiers and by stopping the rocket attacks on Israeli communities.
I cannot help but ask, why do these sponsors of terrorism, why do not the governments that harbor them step up and stop this crisis? Iran and Syria provide $100 million a year it is estimated to Hezbollah. In addition to shipments of rockets, small arms, cruise missiles and other munitions. And let us be clear about the intentions of Hezbollah. Just last year, Hassan Nasrallah stated this, and I quote: "Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal and illegitimate entity which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: Death to Israel." And Hamas, through its charter, pledges this: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it. Just as it has obliterated others before. " Now these intentions make one thing abundantly clear: Israel is not fighting just to protect its citizens. It is fighting to secure its borders, it is fighting for its very existence. Because if Hezbollah and Hamas are able to attack and attack and attack, one day, those borders will not be sovereign anymore. They will deteriorate, they will disintegrate, and that's what we must prevent from happening.
But I also believe we must think of Israel's long-term survival. Yes, we would all like a ceasefire, a cessation of the violence. But that must also come hand in hand with measures that will lead to the disarmament of Hezbollah. The moderate Arab nations and the world's leaders must stand up and denounce these attacks."

Even though she is a liberal Democrat on most issues (and a moderate on a few others), Feinstein still managed to sound more pro-Israel than many of the "neocons" in the Bush administration. Which leaves us with the question: if the conservatives are (obviously) pro-Israel, and liberals like Feinstein are pro-Israel, then who exactly is driving the anti-Israel agenda in the United States? The answer could be found just a few steps away from the rally, where an anti-Israel press conference and counter-protest were going on.

Todd Chretien of the Green Party and Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party -- both of whom are running against Feinstein for Senate in the November elections -- held a joint press conference shortly beofre Feinstein's speech, in which they accused Israel of genocide and praised Hezbollah (Chretien called them a "liberation movement" which unfortunately I didn't catch on tape) while supporters compared Feinstein to a terrorist. (It should be noted that I recognized several of the Chretien supporters as being members of the ISO [International Socialist Organization].)

Here are a few snippets from the anti-Israel, anti-Feinstein press conference.
(Click on the image above to play the video. To view it directly on the YouTube site, click here.)

Todd Chretien: "Hezbollah has 18% of the seats, including ministers, in the Lebanese government. Israel's plan to quote unquote destroy Hezbollah really means destroying about 20% of the people of Lebanon. That's a million people. They are threatening a genocide."
Marsha Feinland: "As Todd said, Hezbollah is -- it's not a question of whether I support Hezbollah. It's a question of what the people of Lebanon, of, of what the populations in the region support."
Todd Chretien: "...come for the pro-Israel rally, but today because we organized this on very short notice, um, that we do not intend to try to carry out a sustained, long, long counter-protest. Uh, we feel like the, the numbers of people on their side today will be...we don't -- anyway, we don't want any violence, we don't want any confrontations today, because we are organizing for August 12, for a massive demonstration, uh, against the, the Israeli war. So we're encouraging people, now that this press conference is over, um, uh, after the press conference is over, for folks to, to leave. Uh, to not get into individual confrontations...
Audience: "No, no!"
Todd Chretien: "Well, I'm just saying my opinion, uh, to get into individual confrontations...Uh, and if people would like to stay and counter-protest, maybe please have a separate meeting and talk about it, so that it's organized and it's not just willy-nilly. So, so, anyway, thank you very much."

There weren't many Chretien supporters to begin with, so after some of them left, there were only a handful. But they were joined shortly thereafter by a band of about ten Palestinian protesters, including this one who repeatedly made Nazi salutes. (Photo by D.K.)

What exactly did he mean by these salutes? There are three possibilities.
1. He is accusing the Israel-supporters of being Nazis -- sort of saying, "This is what you guys are." Since comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is fairly common on the Left and among Muslim groups, this is a possibility.
2. He is saying that he himself is a Nazi, or sympathizes with Nazi goals. From the way he was challenging his opponents (see video below) while giving the salute, as if to say, "Yeah, that's right, I'm saluting, what're you gonna do about it?", this also is a possibility.
3. He was giving not the Nazi salute, but the Hezbollah salute, which is identical. Since they were chanting in favor of Hezbollah, this may be likely as well. Of course, the Hezbollah salute is based on the Nazi salute, so there's no essential difference between options 2 and 3.
I have a feeling that no such careful distinctions were going through his mind, and that his motivation for giving the salute was a muddy combination of the three possibilities mentioned above. He simply knows that making that particular gesture upsets the Jews, so he makes the gesture, and feels good about it, without analyzing exactly why it makes him feel good.

Here's a video of the Nazi saluter and his cohorts, chanting in favor of the intifada and of expanding Palestine "from the river to the sea," i.e. over all of Israel.
(Click on the image above to play the video. To view it directly on the YouTube site, click here.) (Video courtesy of an anonymous contributor.)

Anti-Israel protesters:
(Man repeatedly giving Nazi salute.)
"We don't care what you say,
intifada all the way
We don't care what you say,
Hezbollah all the way
We don't care what you say,
Hezbollah all the way
Palestine will be free
Palestine will be free
From the river to the sea
From the river to the sea
Palestine will be free
Palestine will be free..."

You'll find several more videos of the counter-protesters at the bottom of this page.

The anti-Israel protesters were carrying this sign, which gives Islamic justification for martyrdom and violence. It reads:


They are martyrs in the highest part of Heaven!

Lo Allah hath bought
from the belivers
their lives and their
wealth because the
garden will be theirs!
They shall fight in the
cause of Allah and
shall slay and be slain.

The Holy Quran

Here's a clearer view of the lower part of the sign. (Sign photos courtesy of an anonymous contributor.)

The S.F. Police Bomb Squad was parked just a few feet from the anti-Israel protesters, just in case.

Over on the pro-Israel side, many of the signs and images revolved around the concept of "peace," as with this oversized peace dove that was covered in peaceful messages. This was in line with the overall political slant of the mainstream Jewish groups, many of which are involved in civil rights and "social justice" work.

But sprinkled throughout the rally were a substantial number of signs with more, shall we say, blunt messages, held by people who understood that there could be no peace with an enemy who exists to destroy you. And that the only way to survive is to fight back. Here's a sampling of some of the signs on display.

Nonie Darwish spoke to the crowd as well.

Here's a snippet of her speech. (Click on the image above to play the video. To view it directly on the YouTube site, click here.)

Nonie Darwish: "As an Arab American, I want to express my unequivocal support to the government and people of Israel, in their struggle against terrorism by the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists, and the governments of Iran and Syria behind them. Maybe then gentlemen the so-called Muslim silent majority is no longer silent. We must never allow extremists to speak on our behalf. Fanaticism, extremism, hate speech and terror, that I grew up with, will not win, as we must stand united against it. Some say that Israel's reaction was disproportionate. I disagree. What is disproportionate is the indifferent reaction of the international community whenever Israel is attacked by terrorists!"

(Click on the image above to play the video. To view it directly on the YouTube site, click here.)
This video shows counter-protesters trying to "crash" the event before being quickly shunted away by police; afterwards, they shouted pro-Hezbollah chants from a nearby designated area. Because the audio is chaotic with many people speaking at once, there is no transcript.

Here's a selection of images from that day.


Jewish youth group doing an Israeli folk dance.

The crowd watching Dianne Feinstein.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom lurked silently at the back of the crowd, looking like a Mafia hit man, as usual.

IDF shirts were a popular fashion accessory.


Code Pink was on hand, as usual, to condemn Israel.

The Palestinians and their supporters, with more Nazi salutes visible.

Here is an mp3 audio file of anti-Israel protesters asking Allah to "please help Hezbollah."

As this picture shows, the anti-Israel side was tiny -- perhaps 30 people at most. But all of them were quite virulent, since the half-hearted Israel-haters followed Todd Chretien's advice and left after his press conference.

There was also a small contingent of anti-Zionist Jews nearby.

A reporter eagerly scribbling down Todd Chretien's pro-Hezbollah statements.

A lone Bob Avakian cult member showed up, his imaginary "people's revolution" dwindled down to just himself and his bullhorn. Almost made me feel sorry for the guy.

(Click on the image above to play the video. To view it directly on the YouTube site, click here.)
This video shows counter-protesters shouting pro-Hezbollah chants in English and then Arabic, and then saying in Arabic, "Ya Nasralla, ya habib, oodroob, oodroob Tal-Abib," which translates as "Oh Nasralla, Oh loved one, hit, hit Tel-Aviv." (Video courtesy of D.K.; translation by M.)

(Click on the image above to play the video. To view it directly on the YouTube site, click here.)
This video shows counter-protesters addressing "zombie" (i.e. me). (Video courtesy of D.K.)

Anti-Israel protester: "Thank you for videotaping us. And I want to call out zombie too, who pictures us, and tries to post our pictures on the Internet, and show that we're terrorists. But in fact, she is a terrorist. Why doesn't she show her face? We show our face. How come she doesn't show her face? [Inaudible section]...try to pull us down. Thank you. As long as you're videotaping us, we'll be here. Hell no, we won't go."

(Click on the image above to play the video. To view it directly on the YouTube site, click here.)
This video shows a confrontation between an anti-Israel protester carrying a creepy anti-Semitic sign and a pro-Israel protester with a video camera. (Video courtesy of an anonymous contributor.)

Dianne says: Goodbye!

(More photos to come soon!)

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