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You can’t always judge a man by the content of his t-shirt

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College interns working with a peace and justice organization in Chicago are conducting public opinion surveys about public views of Israeli/Palestinian equality, US military aid to Israel, and Israeli settlements. Results will be published at the end of the summer, but yesterday’s experience at a downtown farmers’ market is worth sharing with Mondo readers.

Setting: Farmers’ market at the Federal Plaza, Chicago. Lunch hour. Population represents a mix of race, gender, age… all folks looking to buy local, purchase a bouquet for the office, or grab a healthy snack for lunch.

Action: Team of three set out to conduct the four question opinion survey, clipboards in hand. Lead question: “Do you believe Palestinians and Israelis should have equal rights?”

Encounter: Thinking perhaps to start off with an easy target, Survey Team member approaches a young man in his 20’s wearing a Greenpeace t-shirt. Greenpeace guy has a clipboard too. Greenpeace is raising funds. “Do you want to save a polar bear?” common opening line of Greenpeace volunteer.

Intern: "Hey, do you have time for a four question opinion survey?"

Greenpeace: "Yes."

Intern: “Do you believe Palestinians and Israelis should have equal rights?”

Greenpeace: “No way.”

Greenpeace makes a reference to Arabs being terrorists and then lifts up his t-shirt, showing a Israeli Defense Forces t-shirt underneath. Greenpeace says he was flying F16’s for the Israeli army for two years. Dropped a lot of bombs on Gaza. Didn’t always look to see where they landed. Flying is cool. Maybe some day I will fly a 747. Likely to return to be a pilot in Israel. Settlements need to stay. Land is ours. Only way to create peace over there is to drop an atomic bomb on the West Bank. I mean, we’ve been trying to make peace since 1948.

Lessons learned: Skipped Greenpeace orientation session? Progressive except Palestine? Maybe not all those pilots feel remorse?

Rie Graham
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