Norman Finkelstein reached his goal yesterday afternoon, a quorum of at least 100 people to protest the latest Gaza massacre outside the Israeli consulate in midtown Manhattan.
On Monday Finkelstein put a call for civil disobedience on his website, announcing his intention to get arrested while demonstrating at Israel’s mission to the UN. “However, I don’t believe in individual acts of martyrdom,” he wrote. “It’s got to be a collective action. If one hundred people either sign up to get arrested or to be there in solidarity, I’ll be there too.”
Although Finkelstein had not quite collected that many names as of Tuesday morning, he said he would go ahead head anyway:
“Politics is not just about quantity, it’s also about quality.
We don’t know each other but we are united by a common conviction:
The terror bombing and blockade of Gaza must end now!”
In the event, more than one hundred people appeared to be on hand, as well as dozens of police. At half-past noon a vanguard of demonstrators lay in the crosswalk on Second Avenue, blocking southbound traffic for several minutes, until officers began making arrests. Finkenstein was adamant that the entire intersection not be blocked. Around 25 people were cuffed and loaded into paddy wagons, including Finkelstein and Brooklyn College professor Corey Robin.
As those in the street were rounded up, others chanted and documented the arrests. Someone read from a pocket copy of the United States’ founding documents; weirdly, the one phrase I heard her say distinctly was “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Familiar refrains were shouted—“Not another nickel, not another dime…” “Occupation’s got to go”—but one in particular stood out, given the nature of Operation Protective Edge: “Hey, Bibi, whaddaya say, / How many kids did you kill today?”