Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Everybody loves a parade

I hadn't planned on it, but after work we took the kids to the Yom Yerushalayim day parade. It was the first time I had been to one since we made aliya almost 9 years ago. In my yeshiva days I would always enjoy it, and I felt the excitement again today. Thousands of people, loud music, dancing, flags all walking toward the Kotel.

Just a couple of notes:

As we walked down Rechov Yafo the crowd got larger and larger. And for some reason I still don't understand, someone (the police?) put up barriers in the middle of the street. The crowd kept progressing eastward, not realizing that they couldn't continue. This started to create very crowded conditions, which the kids did not enjoy. Eventually they opened them up, but the whole thing was very strange.

I did get to tell the kids about a much more crowded situation that I was in once: When I lived in San Francisco in 1987, they held a huge party for the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. While you can always cross the bridge on the sidewalk, for the event they closed the bridge to cars, and allowed pedestrians to walk in the traffic lanes. Well, I guess they didn't figure that it would attract nearly everyone in the city. Several hundred thousand people showed up - and the bridge is only about a mile long! It was packed. At one point, someone shouted "Lean Left!" and the entire bridge swung to the left. Very scary. The bridge itself actually sagged from the weight:

In any case, the parade today wasn't quite so bad...

The other thing that bugged me today was the protest atmosphere. I know that Yom Yerushalayim is primarily a day for the National Religious public, and there's a lot of opposition to the disengagement plan out there. But I think that Yom Yerushalayim should be a day about thanking God for what we got, and showing recognition to those who helped us get it. Therefore protesting against the government of Israel seems wrong on a day like this.

But despite all that, the focus on the color orange as the main medium of protest. It seems more like color war than serious debate.

I had in my head the following conversation:

Journalist: What do you think about the disengagement plan?

Well, there are a lot of issues here. On the one hand, you have the demographic problem, the need to preserve a democratic state, the importance of the strategic relationship with the US. On the other hand you have the danger of rewarding and encouraging terror, the precedent of relinquishing our legitimate homeland, the risk of tearing the Israeli society apart. So I think that it's too dangerous of a risk.

What do you think, protest guy?

Protest guy:
I think - ORANGE!

Isn't that a bit simplistic?

Protest guy:
Come on, it's not like it's a primary color...