Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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Protest as a Form of Art

Hi everyone,

I hope you all are doing well. Before tomorrow’s gathering at the Symphony Space, I want to share a brief reflection on a protest that I attended on Thursday for the civilians in Gaza. With the recent surge in violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip, millions of people across the world are organizing/attending protests to show their solidarity with the people in Gaza and Syria, who are both suffering at the hands of brutal regimes. It’s interesting to note that these people are not only Muslim; they are of different ethnicities, races, and religions. The protest I attended was, needless to say, incredibly emotionally charged; my friend was very angry and upset because she was unable to get in touch with her family in Gaza due to the Israeli government shutting down all forms of communication (i.e. internet, phone lines, etc.) in the Gaza Strip. I guess the only thing that I can do is hope for peace and justice in the Middle East. As one poster said, “WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR HUMANITY.”

While I was at the protest, I noticed various manifestations of “resistance art” directly on the posters, the signs, and the banners. The Palestinian flag was omnipresent; a blur of red, white, black, and green permeates my memories as I recall seeing weeping old men, teenage males passionately shouting “Free, Free Phillistine, Free, Free Ghaaza,” and fiery, young girls wearing hijab (the Islamic head-scarf) thrusting their fists into the air demanding justice. I help up a sign that boldly stated, “With Justice Comes Peace-Free Palestine!” and there were dozens of other people holding up the V-sign colored in the Palestinian flag colors. Perhaps what was most striking about this protest was not  the signs brandished by the Arab community, but by Hasidic Jews who held up signs reading, “Judaism Does Not Support Zionism.”

Overall, this experience will not be forgotten any time soon. I first-handedly witnessed protest art!


1 Malka Mermelstein { 11.20.12 at 4:07 am }

I do not want to get into the politics of this all, but I just want to state that this issue is two sided, as all conflicts, and much more complex. Also, this specific group of Hasidic Jews are not supported by most sects of Jews and their beliefs are not reflective of Judaism’s beliefs across the board, and likewise this issue is a lot more complicated than it may seem superficially.

2 sahsanud { 11.20.12 at 5:23 pm }

Yes, you’re absolutely right Malka about this issue’s complexity and I certainly wasn’t trying to underestimate that aspect of this conflict. A few years ago, I actually learned about that specific sect of Hasidic jews! Nonetheless, seeing them was still striking because I don’t think anyone expected to see them at the protest when the protest itself was organized in one day.

I realize that this is a very emotionally charged and controversial conflict and I hope you can see this conflict from my perspective as I have tried to see it through your eyes. I think that the killing of innocent Israeli civilians is just as condemnable as the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians. One human being’s life is no more valuable than another’s because of his ethnicity/religion/nationality. However, like I mentioned yesterday, this is an asymmetric conflict; I completely and wholeheartedly stand with those marginalized Palestinian men, women, and children who have had to suffer because of Hamas’ actions and the Israeli government’s actions towards all of the Palestinian people living in Gaza. For me, this is not a matter of religion, as there are many Palestinian Jews and Christians; but this is a matter of justice. I’m not Palestinian, I’m not even Arab; but I don’t think one needs to be in order to see that there is something terribly and inherently wrong with the treatment of those people, even when Hamas isn’t launching rockets into Israel. As I conclude this rather long comment, I would like to close with a counter to Gilad Sharon’s statement a few days ago and an Israeli defense minister’s statement back in 2008 about the Palestinian people living in Gaza; regardless of the political complexity of this conflict, there is no justification for the killing of innocent people and there is no legitimization for a call to “flatten all of Gaza” or a call to initiate a “Palestinian shoah (holocaust)”; there are innocent people in Gaza. Those men, women, and children did nothing to deserve to suffer the way they suffer on a daily basis.

Perhaps our views on this particular issue are not in agreement; but thanks anyways for sharing your insight with me. I really appreciate it.

3 Anonymous Israeli Supporter { 12.04.12 at 10:23 pm }

Please feel free to peruse this link at your leisure, Sahsanud.

4 sahsanud { 12.04.12 at 10:56 pm }

Aah, this link seems to be a response to this Huff Post article I had read a couple of weeks earlier:

When discussing any conflict, I think it’s important to keep in mind the kind of media we use to get our information–in this case, both articles present very biased views. I’m not referring to the political complexity or the nationalistic stances people take when it comes to this conflict. Rather, I’m basing my judgement on the suffering of Palestinian CIVILIANS, who are not all represented by Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

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