Monday, February 06, 2006

A night of strong words and dancing

The thing that always strikes me at right-wing rallies or demonstrations is the spirit. Whether it was immediately before the disengagement last year or a rally against what was perceived as police brutality there is always a festive air to these gatherings.
Last night I made my way down to Kikar Zion for a rally under the slogan of 'Olmert is bad for the Jews'. Again I witnessed this remarkable cheeriness and unbreakable spirit. This was a very serious event and the allegations that were made were extremely serious. However, there were thousands of Israeli youth dancing in circles, singing at the top of their voices with smiles on their faces. These were not the hateful, contorted youth that some sections of the press would have us believe resided on the right wing of the political spectrum. There were girls sitting in circles on the floor clapping along to a song chatting like any young group of girls would.
There was one surreal moment for me as we passed a group of girls who were having a bragging match about how many policemen it took to drag them away from a particular place. I looked carefully at these girls and there was no hate on their young cherubic faces. They were proud of their acheivements and not one of them claimed to have lifted a hand in resistance.
There was of course a serious side to the evening and the array of speakers at the event decried the treatment by the government of those who went to Amona to prevent the evacuation. Pictures of people being beaten or being trodden underfoot by horses hooves were intertwined with pictures of Acting PM Ehud Olmert. There was definitely a villain to this night and the hasrh words that emanated from the podium lambasted our nation's highest authority.
To me the rhetoric was secondary to seeing all these Israeli youth, loyal to their country and full of passion and verve. We may not agree with their views or even the way they choose to express them. Compare this with scenes from around the world of a group of people disagreeing with another group of people and subsequently chanting death to this or that one and burning down buildings.
These scenes always give me hope that whatever our differences as a people, we Israelis will always carry on singing and dancing even if accompanied by strong words.

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