Brief report on the picket: in the end there were five of us - all women - plus four small boys from the neighbourhood, two Pakistani and two Lebanese, who decided to join us - they were very helpful with handing out JfJfP leaflets, making placards out of cardboard which they fetched from home, and trying to talk to people. - though one woman accused us of "exploiting Lebanese children"!And here's a bit of an update:
The police had set up a special barrier for us to stand behind, but in the end decided to let us stand behind the school railings so we could talk to people as they went in and came out. We were also allowed to tie the JfJfP banner to the railings - it looked very striking with its slogan "Jews for Justice for Palestinians: Israel: Stop the Killings - Negotiate!" There seemed to be thousands and thousands of people going into the school - a lot of them just ignored us, a few were quite polite and friendly, but - especially when they left at the end, when they were fired up with nationalism - a large number were extremely hostile and really very dangerous and we were very glad of the police presence. They tore up our leaflets, grabbed our placards and tore them to pieces, tried to tear down our banner (the police managed to prevent this) and I really think they would have torn us to pieces if the police hadn't been there - the police actually had to intervene twice to prevent physical attacks. They spat at us, called us "traitors" and accused us of being like concentation camp kapos and said they hoped we would rot or burn in hell. Two of us had come by car with another JfjfP signatory and a policeman had to escort us to the car (parked a few streets away) at the end because of the likelihood we would be attacked.
On the other hand, there was quite a lot of press interest, and we gave interviews to the Press Association and the Evening Standard. So on the whole I think it was worth doing, though it was certainly not a pleasant experience.
By the way, we saw Paul Usiskin, the Chair of Peace Now UK, leaving the rally....
a JfJfP signatory actually started crying at one point, not because she was frightened but because she was so upset at the hate and nastiness .... she kept asking them if they were happy that 10 times more Lebanese civilians had been killed than Israeli, and many of them said they were perfecty happy with this, and one man said "I wish it was 40 times as much" and another one said "I wish it was a million times as much"...The presence we at Jews against zionism mounted to counter-picket against the Zionist Federation/Betar picket of the Rachel Corrie cantata was far more successful in terms of numbers and even that was a bit scary but we were preaching largely to the converted. What these five women did took a combination of physical and moral courage and they weren't preaching to converts. Far from it. They were countering a rally by race hate-mongers. I was tied up with something else yesterday and I tried to talk the two women I knew were going on the picket out of it. Thankfully they didn't listen.
In a surprise move, even the BBC reported on the picket.
A small counter-demonstration was staged outside the event by Jewish people opposed to military action in Lebanon.They blotted their copy book quite badly at the cantata by interviewing people from JAZ but only reporting the ghoulish picket by the Zionist Federation and Betar and even showing photos of some of our people and calling them ZF! Disgraceful!
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