One of the group of bloggers (including myself) who was at the Sherman Oaks vigil has put up a beautiful (except for my own pic) slide show on the event here:
Here's some from the bigger vigil in Studio City:
Thanks so much Alicia Morgan and JWo for taking these pix. I would have brought my own digital camera but considering that my hands were very full most of the time it would have been a problem and a risk of losing something I can't replace right now. I have put a link up to Ms. Morgan's blog, "Last Left Turn Before Hooterville" as well as Maryscott O'Connor's "My Left Wing" in the links...it's good to have some local San Fernando Valley bloggers in there. I need to track down Shockwave's blog and put a link up there.
One of the really nice things about the vigil was the fact that the age range of the folks there was so spread out. It wasn't just old people who were activists back in the '60s there, it wasn't just High School and College age people, it was every age from babes in arms to toddlers to school-age kids to young adults to people raising families to old folks. I kinda wish it was a little less caucasian persuasion out there but this is Sherman Oaks, which is unfortunately still very Water Bagel. (the Jewish answer to White Bread) It was like that when I grew up there back in the '70s too.
I can't believe that the Wingers are getting any traction with their slime attacks on Cindy Sheehan. I'm Jewish by birth (not by persuasion) and I do believe that Israel has a right to exist, but I am 100% sympathetic to those who are pointing out that factions of the Israel Defense Force, the Likudniks, the Haredim and the other Wingers there are behaving badly and have been behaving badly for decades now. Albert Einstein was asked to hold the largely ceremonial office of President of Israel in 1952, but turned them down because he did not believe Israel should be a mono-cultural Jewish State, but a democracy where Jews and Arabs could live together. To be fair, Einstein was also in very poor health at that point too, and probably his more pressing consideration was his health.
I really can't be very sympathetic to the Jews who had to be thrown off their settlements in Gaza kicking and screaming. Gaza isn't too much to ask for...it's a teeny sliver of land squished between Israel and Egypt. I'm sure the Israeli government offered fair prices for their land and had very generous relocation plans for displaced settlers. I think that returning to pre-1967 borders save for part of Jerusalem is fair and necessary. The Haredim have wet dreams about a "greater Israel" or a "Biblical Israel" stretching from the confluence of the Tigris and the Euphrates to the Mediterranean and encompassing not only Palestinian lands but Jordanian, Iraqi, Syrian and Egyptian lands, but that's simply not doable. The Jordanians should have been more welcoming of Arab refugees in the late '40s and during the '70s but that's water under the bridge now.
I think Jerusalem should be "internationalized" and maintained by a world body of some sort to ensure access to all who hold it sacred to all the holy places there. The Palestinians want Jerusalem as its capital, the Israelis have claimed Jerusalem as its capital, and the three Abrahamic Monotheisms all have sacred sites there. The original plan for Israel and Transjordan had Jerusalem under UN control. I think that the UN has enough tarnish on it to where a different body would have to be constituted to watch over Jerusalem.
I have said it before and will say it again: questioning the strategy and tactics of the Israeli Government and the Israeli Defense Force does not mean you are a freaking Anti-Semite or a "Self-Hating Jew." A lot of the trouble we have brought on ourselves during the Iraq War has had a lot to do with the influence of IDF tactics on the modern US Armed Forces. As shocking as Abu Ghraib and Gitmo is, Israel has been doing this to Palestinian prisoners for decades now.
If Cindy Sheehan actually said what she is credited to have said about Casey "dying for Israel," she didn't mean it as a dig or a diss against Israel's right to exist as a nation but against the policies of a nation that should know better. Israel became necessary after the Holocaust. Arguably it was necessary sooner, in light of Pogroms throughout the centuries after the Romans kicked the Hebrews out of what became their province of Palestine but which had been their home for millenia. I hold Israel to an even higher standard than that of any other country because it was founded as a haven for the persecuted. For Israel to adopt tactics that smack of those used against the Jews throughout history is almost...dare I say it?...sacrilege. Chillul ha'Shem. Profaning The Name.
Anyway, the fact that thousands and thousands of people got together all over the United States and practiced their first-amendment "Right of the people to peaceably assemble" without a single incident of violence is a triumph. We should build on this victory by keeping the pressure on the G.W. Bush administration. We have history on our side. Look at Gandhi's victory in India. Look at the Solidarnosc uprising in Poland. Look at the "Velvet Revolution" of Czechoslovakia. Look at Yeltsin standing up to the coup plotters who had Gorbachev in their custody and were preparing to turn the clock back in Russia. Look at the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine. If it takes mass civil disobedience to bring down Dubya, then dammit, let's do it. There should be demonstrations the size of these we participated in yesterday every freaking day and night until Dubya, Dick Cheney and their evil minions are out of office and at Den Haag awaiting trial for crimes against humanity.
We will know by the results of the 2006 mid-term election. If a Dem majority takes over the House and the Senate, there still are the remnants of the Democratic Process left in the US. If by some reason the Repugs can either keep their majority or build on their majority, we will know that the system is irreparably broken and that there is no choice but to proceed with means other than electoral means. I do not mean violence here. Read the paragraph above this one again. India, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Ukraine. All of these had despotic governments that did not represent the people nor rule at the consent of the governed. All of these were toppled by strictly non-violent means. Satyagraha. Truth-Force. Ultimately even South Africa, which had a guerilla force (Umkonta we Sizwe) fighting the Apartheid regime, yielded not to force of arms but to Force of Truth, in the person of Nelson Mandela.
Think back on what the world was like in 1979. Think back on where it is now. The Warsaw Pact is broken. The Soviet Union does not exist anymore, and the reign of terror instituted by Lenin, perfected by Stalin, and sustained by faceless bureaucrats in the Politburo was broken by the beginning of the '90s. South Africa is a free country...a troubled country, true, but under majority rule. In 1979, could anyone have predicted that the Communist Bloc in Europe would have "withered away" and South Africa would be run by Africans instead of the descendents of Dutch settlers?
May the Force (of Truth) be with us all.
(modified 11:54am PDT)