Sunday, July 16, 2006

Israeli - Palestinian Clash in San Francisco

Alan note: Sorry, the photos did not transfer but you can click on the links in the story to see them and others.

Protest at the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, July 13, 2006The recent fighting in and around Israel spilled over onto the streets of San Francisco on Thursday, July 13, when Palestinian and left-wing groups staged a protest in front of the Israeli Consulate in the city's Financial District.

An equal number of pro-Israel counter-protesters showed up to make their voices heard as well, and from the start the two sides were battling it out with a war of words and symbols.

The protest was organized by Al-Awda (a group devoted to dismantling Israel and replacing it with a Palestinian state), A.N.S.W.E.R. (a communist group) and a coalition of other Islamic and socialist organizations. (Editor's note: The pictures by me on this page were taken with a hidden camera, which is why some of them are out-of-focus or at odd angles. Other pictures, as noted, were sent in by contributors. Alan:NONE OF THEM TRANSFERED correctly) .

The police separated the two groups onto opposite sides of the street, to prevent any physical altercations. The Palestine supporters on the left directly in front of the Israeli Consulate building waved Palestinian flags, while the Israel supporters on the right waved Israeli and American flags. Montgomery Street served as a demilitarized zone between the warring factions.

There were about 200 to 250 activists on each side, which is the largest counter-protest organized by the pro-Israel side that I've ever seen in San Francisco.

Several of the men on the Palestinian side dressed like this, making masks out of kaffiyehs so as to look like, uh, "militants" or "terrorists," depending on whom you ask.

A T-shirt vendor was doing brisk business selling shirts that declared, "I Am Democratic, I Voted for Hamas." Many of the people on the Palestinian side were overtly pro-Hamas, as evidenced by their chants and signs. Click here to see a video (courtesy of Dr. Mike) and hear one of their chants (QuickTime mpeg video, 1.4mb):

Pro-Palestinian protesters:
"Long live the intifada!Long live the intifada!Long live the intifada!Long live the intifada!Intifada intifada!Intifada intifada!Intifada intifada!" The vendor was also selling another T-shirt design that said, "To: Israel From: The Resistance We did it your way. NOW IT'S TIME FOR THE AK" with a picture of an AK-47. (Photo by B.J.) I also took this blurry shot of the same shirt. Several people were wearing them.

A contingent of men in fundamentalist Islamic garb showed up and occasionally shouted confrontational slogans. Here are two of them conferring. The anti-Israel side held up this mysterious sign, which might be considered rather offensive, depending on your interpretation. (Photo by Dr. Mike.)

One group of Palestinian protesters relentlessly taunted their opponents. (Photo by D.K.) Notice the left hand of the masked protester. (Photo by D.K.) One of them repeatedly made a "money-grubbing Jew" gesture. (Photo by D.K.) A view of the action from the pro-Israel side.

The counter-protesters held up signs like this, while across the street the protesters chanted phrases in favor of Hezbollah and Hamas. This protester's message implied that he is prepared to fight to the death against Israel. (Photo by B.J.) On a side street, a pair of Palestinian supporters were getting ready to enter the protest, using a window as a mirror to make sure their kaffiyeh-masks looked just right. I got a blurry snapshot of the moment.

Unfortunately for them, a pair of cops noticed their preparations. When the protesters said they weren't planning to do any violence, one of the cops asked, "Then why are you dressing up like a terrorist like that?" while the other made them empty their bags to make sure they didn't have any weapons. I didn't see how the situation resolved itself.

I waded through the crowd with a hidden camera. This young protester was one of several wearing kaffiyehs that show the Dome of the Rock Mosque, reflecting the agenda of the "Al-Awda" supporters in the crowd to reclaim Jerusalem as the capital of a "river-to-sea" Palestine. A "jolly time" was had by all. (photo of gleeful Palestinians)

A.N.S.W.E.R. supplied freshly printed signs to the protesters, reflecting events (such as the fighting in Lebanon) that had transpired just hours earlier. Some of the A.N.S.W.E.R. signs echoed the Hamas talking point that the 9,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails had all been "kidnapped" by Israel.

This notorious anti-Semite haunts all the rallies in the Bay Area (Photo by D.K.) The firebrand previously made an appearance at the Bus 19 event in San Francisco where he spouted bizarre anti-Jewish conspiracy theories (scroll to bottom of linked page for video). (Photo by B.J.)

At one point the police brought in the paddy wagons. I thought there were going to be mass arrests... ...but instead the police just used them to block the view between the rival groups on either side of the street, apparently to defuse some of the tensions and verbal hostilities. A police helicopter hovered overhead.

The pro-Israel side. (Photo by D.K.) A group of young guys showed up to wave American flags. (Photo by D.K.) Senior citizens joined the pro-Israel side as well. (Photo by D.K.) Where indeed? (Photo by D.K.) A sight rarely seen in San Francisco: a vigorous pro-Israel and pro-America crowd. (Photo by D.K.)

The protest dissipated between 6:30 and 7:00pm, and luckily the police presence helped to ensure that there were no ugly incidents either during or after the rally.

To see more photos of this event at Getty Images, click here. These four Indybay pages also have more pictures from the protest, A video report by KTVU's Amber Lee can be viewed here. (Click here to return to the main zombietime page.)

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