California vigils

There’s been considerable discussion throughout weblogdom about the Berkeley protests yesterday. Personally, I thought it was one of the milder student protests I’ve seen at Berkeley.

What’s interesting is that there have been Jewish people within the pro-Palestinian side of many of these demonstrations. For instance, in yesterday’s protest,¬†The Mercury News¬†reported the following excerpt from the demonstration:

“Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism,” Micah Bazant, a pro-Palestinian Jewish community activist, told the crowd from the steps of Sproul Hall.

“Yes it is! Yes it is!” yelled a cluster of students, some wearing yarmulkes and holding up Israeli flags. Israel supporters booed Bazant for reading from the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

One thing I noticed about this demonstration and others like it is the use of Holocaust imagery. I really dislike the use of the Holocaust as a political weapon — by both sides of the Middle East conflict. Those who use the Holocaust in this manner demean the memories of all those who died. If people want to remember the victims of the concentration camps, they should do so with words of peace, not words of hate.

Though not as televised, there was another demonstration at Justin Hermann plaza just a few blocks from my home. It came about because a Jewish man, wanting to organize a vigil for peace, had put word out on the Internet to attract other people to join him. And among those that answered the call was a Palestinian born woman. Between both individuals, they had gathered a small group of people of all religions and races who held lit candles and joined hands and said silent prayers in hopes of peace.

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