Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Radical Chic

Posted by shiduri on July 19, 2006


I pity the UC Berkeley student who supports Israel. With the latest series of crises in the region, come late August, Sproul Plaza will be teeming with the usual suspects waving signs smeared with photos of the latest carnage in Lebanon, and chanting “NO JUSTICE NO PEACE.”
What frustrates me the most about Sproul Plaza culture is that ironically, being ‘pro-Peace’ isn’t good enough. You have to be militantly anti-Israel if you are going to fit in with the racical chic self-proclaimed iconoclasts. One of my early memories of ‘Oyster’ is when he, along with the rest of the us in the 2000-2001 Israel Action Committee gathered in a giant circle near Sathar Gate and sang the song ‘Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu’ (Soon Peace Will Come to Us) in both Hebrew and Arabic. Our attempt at showing the importance of mutual respect was met with derisive laughter.

Having spent six (thats right, SIX) years as an undergrad at Cal, I passed many a noon-hour trying to avoid the polarizing demonstrations on Sproul Plaza. Flag-waving and slogan-shouting (from both sides) is never conducive to a peaceful solution. I am of the belief that you cannot ignore the shades of greyif there is to be understanding. Having said that, the reality of Berkeley culture cannot be ignored. Since uninformed Cal students strolling through Sproul Plaza during lunch WILL be branded with the sense that the Israeli government is a collection of bloodthirsty murderers, I urge those in support of Israel to stand up, speak out, and be counted.


2 Responses to “Radical Chic”

  1. Oyster said

    Oh man, don’t get me started on this, Shiduri…

    Lots of students come to Berkeley thinking that they’re going to become the next Mario Savio (of Free Speech Movement fame). And they’ll manufacture a cause, even if there isn’t one.

    Case & point, after the Afghanistan War started, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) lost a lot of support, and they had to plead on flyers for new membership. The “cause du’jour” amongst ephemeral student far-left activists had shifted.

    I can literally write a whole book on this topic…

  2. I remember my first memory of Berkeley. I came to visit my sister for Little Sibling Weekend. We stopped by the international dorms to visit a friend of hers and down the hall a student’s door had a flyer taped to it inviting students to attend a rally against the Israeli/Jewish “baby murderers” and had a picture of a Campbell’s soup can with a Palestinian babies flavor label.
    The next day was an international festival and all sorts of groups had tables and were handing out information. And then I saw him, a man dressed up just like a younger Arafat. He had military clothes on (green jacket and pants and black boots) and that head covering. For a moment, I was terrifyed. I had come to associate that image with terrorists and never expected to see it outside the confines of a Hamas rally, let alone in the United States.
    I also remember my last memory of Berkeley. My sister was graduating and my entire family, even my grandparents visiting from Israel, came. One of the student speakers, I believe he was winning the President’s award, spoke about rising up against injustices in the world. One of the injustices he mentioned was the murder of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers. This received cheers and applause from the graduating class. I felt ashamed that this was the view of America and its beliefs toward Israel that my grandparents were seeing.
    So uh, Go Bears!

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