The Times Square "rally" by the fearsome five: Rangel, Maloney, Engel, Nadler and Quinn, made for grim watching, but had its farcical side as well. Watching them on Youtube reminded me of some of the lonelier moments I, and I'm sure, most of us have had on the political hustings in odd spots speaking to tiny and indifferent audiences--except this was in the middle of Times Square and the speakers were the Manhattan Bigs. Yet there didn't seem to be more than 25 people present and they were mostly dull-eyed and apathetic except for a few comrades hooting and casting heavy aspersions on the veracity of the speakers. Rangel in particular looked uncomfortable; and I suppose he was mainly there out of fear for his tuchus given the recent downturn in political fortunes.
It's plain that these people are deeply worried, in the immediate moment, about the prospect of having members of the Flotilla showing up in the US and taking apart Israel's fakery, and more basically, because events are slipping away from them at a precipitous pace. I spent a couple of excruciating hours the other day reading through AIPAC's compendium of 98 statements by Congresspersons plus Lord High Zionist Joe Biden. Along with the usual brazenness it was impossible to miss a considerable current of anxiety that now flows through the Israel Firsters, as in this excerpt from Adam Schiff (D CA):
Foreign commentators, who look askance at the Jewish state in the best of times, condemned the raid in the strongest of terms, attempting to cast it as another example of Israel's supposed slide toward South African-style apartheid or even fascism. . . . Most worrisome in the long term is the broad-based international campaign to delegitimize Israel. University campuses have been divided by divestment campaigns. There have been academic and economic boycotts of Israel in Europe, and many Israelis are wary of traveling to several European countries.
Not your usual insouciance. One thing alone is certain here, however: as the struggle succeeds, so will its cost increase. The word, "existential," is bandied about loosely when Israel and its defense are involved. But it's a term we should heed. Your hard-core Zionist--and there are many along with the opportunists in Congress who toe the AIPAC line--really does think in life and death terms about the Jewish State. When this is combined with deeply inquisitorial instincts, as in the case of Senator Schumer and Representative Brad Sherman, among others, it's a certainty that the repressive apparatus is going to be mobilized, domestically as well as against those who live elsewhere. This struggle will not be won incrementally and through standard methods of petitioning the authorities. It's going to require courage and sacrifice.