Oy Bay!

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

The Troll of Telegraph Avenue

Posted by shiduri on July 25, 2006

Rusty the Clown

If you stroll up Telegraph Avenue toward the UC Berkeley campus, you’ll see a full-sized Palestinian flag billowing in the breeze. The flag is affixed to a table strewn with colorful bumperstickers, and behind the merchandise sits a short, wizened man with knobby-knees and elbos. Frizzy red hair sticks out from beneath (invariably) a straw or baseball cap, and his pock-marked visage holds beady eyes which balance precariously on a bulbous nose. I call him ‘The Troll of Telegraph’ although ‘Oyster’ tells me his ‘nom de guerre’ may be Rusty.

The Troll of Telegraph is a well-known picture on the footpath of ‘hippy-radicalism’ as his table seems to epitomize Berkeley’s radical-chic zeitgeist. You won’t see placards decorated with peace signs and doves carrying olive branches at his table. No, Peace is too ‘passee’ — too ‘kumbaya’ for the Troll of Telegraph.

While I’ve become enured to the usual “End the Ocupation of Palestine” sign at his booth, this time the Troll has outdone himeself. There are two signs propped up against his table: The first one reads, “God Bless Hamas and the Hezbollah” while the second one emphatically states, “Down with the Zionist Entity” (Which in Berkeley PC speech translates to “The Jews shouldn’t have a Home of their Own”) The Troll has crossed the line!
While I’m all for free speech, WHY on earth do people who have NO connection to Israel or Palestine feel obligated to take such a polarizing stand on the issue? Why isn’t he protesting the genocide in Darfur? Did he have signs decrying the use of poison gas against the Kurds when Saddam Hussein was in power? Narry a “Down with Milosovec” sign has ever graced his table.

Why doesn’t the Troll rally against the multitude of woes in our OWN country? Homelessness is rampant. The environment is in shambles. The nation is taking a hard swing toward the Christian Right. Why not wave signs about THAT? No! Instead, he chooses to show support for two known terrorist organizations who have claimed the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Whats next? “God Bless Al-Qaida?”


4 Responses to “The Troll of Telegraph Avenue”

  1. I have the answer that you seek, Shiduri: because it’s much easier to sympathize with poor, defenseless, oppressed groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah who hide behind women and children, using them as human shields, purposefully target civilians, and send out other people’s children to die for their causes.
    Yeah, that makes me very sad. Not the fact that there’s some crazy guy who supports these groups but because it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow (save yours, of course). And what if he had a “God bless Al-Queda” sign? Would they even care then?

  2. shiduri said

    i also think that the vehement anti-israel sentiments stem from a unconscious (or semi-conscious) form of anti-semitism — good times 😦

    i urge you all to read Emanuele Ottolenghi’s article “Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism” which appeared in the Guardian:

  3. Oyster said

    Rusty is the case-&-point example of a person whose sole & focused hatred of Israel is such a thin veneer as to be obvious to anyone who has had the singular displeasure of having to see him and his filth from time to time as a student of Berkeley.

    He’s what people call a “professional protester”. No real job or obligations leave him with this schedule free to do this stuff 24-7.

    I have some great photos of him being arrested at a Students for Justice in Palestine lock-down protest at Wheeler Hall from 2002. He’s in real agony. I’ll post them up soon. 🙂

  4. […] Turning onto Telegraph, we passed by various street vendors. My friend and I, both being humorous bumper sticker and t-shirt fans, browsed through the selection. That is, until I looked up and saw the huge PLO flag hanging behind the table. We promptly left. I didn’t know that handmade jewelry and pot leaf t-shirts had anything to do with politics or the Middle East. It must be those darn diamond traders in Ramat Gan, Israel, that are monopolizing the jewelry trade and not letting the homemade jewelry sold on street corners guy in Berkeley make a living! It saddened me that after that, we had to look through the entire stock of merchandise at each table to see if there were any anti-Israel or anti-Semitic items before deciding if we were going to purchase something. […]

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