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Saturday, January 3, 2009

When An Anti-War Protest Becomes A Pro-War Protest

I heard there was going to be a protest march today against the war going on in Gaza so I decided to go and take a few pictures...

The bulk of the protest march in Seattle, cited in the news as 2,000 but seemingly more like 200.

It really did seem to be an anti-war protest, intermixed between the Palestinian flags were some of the stock protesters that seem to be at any given anti-war protest of any stripe. Personally, I'm not a big fan of war or violence as I'm the overly optimistic type and like to think most people are the same way and would rather be left to their own devices like I do... though I too know there are people out there who's devices include a unfathomable desire to hurt others.

Protesting parents coax their children to take place in a mock funeral march carrying a baby doll made up to be a civilian casualty of war.

I digress though... except for the tactic of using children who probably had no idea of the role they were playing out for their parents in this spectacle of a protest, I generally supported what I thought the point of it was, that Israel and Palestine should just stop shooting at each other and try to give peace another try.

However, after the march came and went through where I had set up to take pictures, I found out the protest was about something else entirely... something I just can't support.

A lone Pro-Israeli counter-protester and one of the hundreds of Pro-Palestinian protesters face off.

My wife and oldest son left afterward to do some shopping and on the way home happened into a few groups of these protesters... their chants of "Stop The War" earnestly delivered for the media had changed into angry shouts of "Death To Israel" and "Death To The Jews" once the cameras had left, and my wife and son were caught in the crossfire.

My wife, who does happen to have some Jewish ancestry, never thought she looked that Jewish... neither did I. But the protesters did, and they made their anger known with louder shouts of "Death to Jews!" as they glared at her and started following her and my son down the street... not once, but twice when she got away from one group only to run into another.

She got away, a bit shaken and angry, but that's only part of the point.

Antisemitic signs intermixed with anti-war signs, ultimately a call for peace through more killing.

It wasn't a peace march, it was a war march. They weren't asking for Israel to leave them alone, they were telling us that the only peace they can accept will come from the death of others... through more war, not less.

They weren't asking for acceptance as humans, they were asking for hate towards those they considered as less human than themselves... which included my family apparently.

It was a point that the media here, who put a good bit of sympathetic bias towards the protesters in their stories, apparently missed... but one I would have too if they didn't let their hate bleed out in front of my son and wife. It was a message that said "The only peace we can understand comes with your death..."

It was a message which only asks for more war, not less.


alex said...

I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your wife. Sounds like such a horrible and frightening situation. When I heard there was going to be a rally I just skipped my planned shopping for the day. Hopefully the two countries can come to some peace in the near future.

LJansen said...

Hello. I was at the demonstration you describe above. The numbers were from 800-1000 in my opinion. Probably not 2,000 as KOMO said, but much more than your 200.

There was no talk about hating Jews at this demonstration. There was lots of talk about hating the policies of the state of Israel, supported by the U.S. government. There were calls for Hamas to stop the rockets into Israel.

One of the main speakers was Jewish. There was a good clip of him on KIRO. And there were several people from Jewish Voice for Peace represented in the crowd.

If anyone had started voicing hateful messages toward Jews, you can be sure the peacekeepers would have isolated them from the protest.

Peace and shalom.

Packratt said...


Thank you, she was really upset about it when she called to tell me what was happening and when she finally got home.

The city just seems so full of hate lately, just doesn't feel like the same Seattle anymore.

Like I said, I too would prefer that the two sides could figure things out without resorting to violence, but I don't expect either side to just roll over and let the other side murder them.

...but that's what hate brings; violence, not peace.

Thank you for the comment.

Packratt said...


Well, as my wife told it, the first group she encountered was at Westlake and it was after the media had left and apparently as groups were splitting off.

The first to yell at her were part of the main group still at the plaza and then a second group that she encountered further up the street also started yelling and turned to follow her, which is when she started calling me, as a precaution.

Like I said, I was definitely sympathetic to what I thought the protest was about, for Israel and Hamas to come to a ceasefire and just talk things out... but it's clear that's not what many of your group were about.

They were there to spread hate, not peace... and it was my family they focused their hate towards and I take their word for it before yours.

Anonymous said...

Hamas, and all Islamics want Jews to be exterminated. They will never cease fire. Jesus will come and save the Jews, and call who believe in him to Heaven... called rapture!!!! On the way!!!!!

l. lunette said...

I'm so so sad for your wife and especially your son. The scene sounds truly terrifying. It sounds like your wife was trapped between hate and more rage. We just don't have that kind of thing in our regular day to day experience shopping, I can't imagine how scary that was for her. You don't mention the age of your son, but I hope he's able to talk with you and process all that happened to him.

It makes me pause to consider the children and mothers there, the fear and hatred there as well, on either "side." "Answers" or "explanations" just don't cover all of this. Your family is fortunate to have your love and belief in them.

My daughter's great grandfather faught in WWII, filling in for the fallen troops after Normandy. He was a Russian Jewish immigrant. After the Germans lost he served as a secretary to a general in Frankfurt.

I asked him what that was like, as a Jew, living in Germany with all these people who had wished him exterminated just months before. He answered, "I felt sorry for them. Their women were outside our gates begging to do our laundry, or anything else, to be able to eat. They had nothing, nothing. There was nothing left, they were devastated. There are no winners in war."

I hope you and your family can find something out of this that is positive, if such a thing is possible. Wishing you all comfort~

Packratt said...

First, anonymous... I just don't know what to say to that to be honest...

Next, Lunette,

Thank you for the kind words, I appreciate that. My eldest is 13 and was pretty upset since he barely understands what the whole conflict is about, let alone has anything at all to do with it. So, yes, he had a lot of questions and I did my best to try and present both sides of the conflict... to at least explain the misplaced anger that was projected towards him and his mom.

Your daughter's grandfather is right, there never are any real winners in war... as we see in the middle east, these wars and the anger from them span so many generations that nobody remembers quite what the reason was for the hate, they just know that they hate for hate's sake.

...and there is never any peace born of hate.

Thank you kindly for the comment, I appreciate it!

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