Standing for Gaza and Ghouta in Union Square

So, as every Friday, our Syria Solidarity NYC group held its vigil in Union Square to bear witness against the ongoing savage bombardment of Ghouta. But what a scene it was last evening... First, there was a big protest going on against Israel's massacres along the Gaza Strip's border. Now, those standing for Ghouta and Gaza should be natural allies, but there was little interaction between our little protest and their much larger one.

The reasons for this bear some examination...

I saw banners and placards at the Gaza rally both from Adalah NY, who I support, and from Workers World and various of its front groups, who I thoroughly oppose. Workers World, of course, are avid supporters of the Bashar Assad dictatorship which is raining death down on Ghouta tonight, just as Israel has serially rained death down on Gaza. They are 100% morally bankrupt. It pains me, as ever, to see the well-meaning, including my comrades in Adalah, mixing up with these moral monsters at the same rally—even if I understand the reasons it keeps happening. It does not appear that Adalah and Workers World are working together organizationally, let me emphasize.

Then there was a small group of counter-protesters from the Jewish Defense Organization who marched ‘round and ‘round the Gaza gathering with Israeli flags, chanting "IS-RA-EL!" Their lead banner read, "If Palestinians won’t stop the terrorists, the IDF will!" Some of the pro-Gaza protesters thought it was a good idea to follow the JDO ‘round and ‘round—perhaps to intervene if there was trouble, or perhaps to try to drown out their endless one-word chant? But it actually made the miniscule JDO contingent look twice its actual size! So, uh, maybe not so smart?

At one point, just adding to the fun, a small group of young Hasids passed through with a big banner reading "MOSIACH." I was afraid they were going to join the JDO fools, but they weren't there for that at all—they kept moving, taking no note of the protesters or counter-protesters.

And finally, there was a small group of Brazilians protesting the arrest orders that have been issued for Lula, and calling it a "golpe" (coup).

A few of the Gaza protesters did come over to our vigil to check us out and take our flyer, and seemed pretty open. But most ignored us. I was glad, at least, that we got no trouble—from either the Workers World "tankies" (as we call them) or JDO jerks.

But I’m still waiting for progressives in the New York area to have the conversation that needs to be had, get the controveries and rivalries out in the open, to be scrutinized and evaluated in the light of day, build bridges—or, when necessary, burn bridges—on the basis of principle rather than convenience... and build the unified but mutli-issue movement that we so desperately need at this dangerous moment, with fascist forces on the advance worldwide.

You may say I'm a dreamer.... But what else am I supposed to do?

Red-Brown politics in Union Square?

Oh, and one depressing little tidbit... at one point a young white kid in a tank-top with an American flag print came over and asked me if I supported David Duke. When I said no, he replied, "Why not? He's the greatest anti-Zionist leader in America."

OK, this kid had nothing to do with the Gaza rally. But it is distrubing to run into someone like that here in "liberal," multi-culti New York City. And the fact that he thought (at least) that he supported the Gaza rally points up again the potential for Red-Brown Politics.