- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2002

When does anti-Semitism become an even darker form of Jew-hatred? If this weekend's demonstrations in downtown Washington D.C., particularly those on Saturday, didn't answer that question, they demonstrated the perilously thin line between dark and darker.
It wasn't the endless chants of "Free Palestine, Free Palestine" or the sea of black, red and green flags. That's fair enough. But it was the other things the posters of Israeli flags with a swastika substituting for the Star of David, the coterie of members of the New Black Panther Party calling for "Death to Israel," the kids with white headbands written in Persian, looking like children bent on suicide.
This wasn't what the protests were supposed to be about they were meant to be about bringing peace and justice to the world and actions against corporate capitalism and the World Bank. The anti-war protestors who met on the southeast side of the Washington Monument came the closest to meeting that goal. These were the old leftists the Grey Panthers, the veterans against the war (whichever war America may be in at the moment), the "Free Mumia'ers" and the multiple-lifetime members of the Ann Arbor reincarnation league. Every third person represented a different obscure group, or at least tried to. One speaker, ostensibly from a New York union against the war, said he didn't really speak for his union, or even his local, but he was sure that a whole bunch of union workers agreed with him.
The black and red of the outfits of the anti-World Bank crusaders were almost completely covered by Palestinian flags. A few of the anarchists were dressed from head to foot in black, almost exactly like some of the female Palestinian supporters; perhaps they swapped tips on facial covering. Georgetown's "Guerrilla Theater" put on an anti-Coca Cola demonstration, which ended with the players dousing themselves in the pause that refreshes (it did make their hair look a little better). A street vendor nearby did a brisk business in Coca Cola.
Absurdities abounded. A communist denounced a socialist for "living in the real world," while another revolutionary believer peddled the party newspaper for the "bargain" price of 50 cents. "We live in a capitalist society, after all," she said. There was a lost-looking troupe of Boy Scouts, perhaps earning merit badges in "anti-war sloganeering," "moral equivalency" and "erratic marching."
There was some marching to the Mall, but it was closer to wandering under tight police control. Every five minutes or so, a group of people tried unsuccessfully to slow the marchers, which augurs ill for a Palestinian statehood that tries to stay within its boundaries. Asad Abdel Rahman, the official Palestinian Authority representative in Washington, told an assembled gaggle of reporters that the marchers weren't really anti-Jewish. Then he was off marching again, before being run over by a throng of marching Palestinians who demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon be tried as a war criminal.
There were plenty of police on hand, though, and everyone on the force, from Chief Charles Ramsey to the freshest face on the street patrol, deserve a fair amount of credit for preventing what could have been a series of ugly confrontations. Still, the palpable anti-Semitism in the air was ominous enough. As the Mall slowly started clearing out Saturday afternoon, the only things left were the hateful chants, the waving placards of swastikas and stars and the moral certitude for a cause that only old leftists could embrace.

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