At the University of Illinois, Palestinian supporters disrupted a commemoration of Israeli Independence Day by the Jewish student community. The protesters marched through the quadrangle where the Jewish students were gathered, using bullhorns and posters to break up the celebration. The signs they carried displayed political slogans like "We don't want this peace," "We shut Zionists down," "Fight apartheid, colonialism," and "Happy Birthday Israel! Keeping the apartheid dream alive." (The apartheid charge is a favorite slander of Israel by the left that has no basis in fact.)
The blood-soaked Israeli flag the protesters were carrying (see photo) sent an ambiguous but intimidating message. Whose blood was it? The blood of Palestinian suicide bombers? The blood of civilian victims of terrorism? There were many possible associations.
What was not ambiguous was the transformation of a peaceful celebration into an expression of hate. "This was not meant to be a protest," said Staci Mellman, a Jewish campus services planner at Hillel. "The only message we want to send is that we want to share this campus. We were trying to do things in a very civilized, nondisruptive, non-negative manner. People were kind of shocked that they were so negative."
Of course the protesters have the right to free speech. But just what is their speech saying?
Dallek, Jacob. "Israel Independence Celebration Meets with Protest ." Daily Illini, April 18, 2002.
Peace with Realism