Friday, June 24, 2005

Battle Colors

The summer is heating up in Jerusalem. According to the countdown at Haaretz, there are only 53 days until the pullout. For those of you who don't know what "the pullout" is, well, wake up, read something, turn on CNN! It's too complicated to explain here. It's enough to say that it's a big political and social mess - and even though it's dealing with Gaza settlements it seems like the drama is being played out on the streets of Jerusalem.

The other night I was on my way out to meet friends at a bar around the corner from my house. On my way there, there were groups of folks walking through the streets putting blue ribbons and flyers on cars. For the past few months opponents of "the pullout" have used the color orange to represent their cause. They've made orange t-shirts, orange posters, and have tied orange ribbons to anything that will hold still for a minute. Orange is everywhere. You can't even wear an orange shirt without people thinking that you support the settlements/settlers.

Very recently there has been another group pushing blue as the color the pro-disengagement (or pro-pullout) camp. The distribution of blue ribbons and flyers in my neighborhood was an effort to balance the colors wars.

Yaacov used the car yesterday morning to go to court (he's a lawyer you know) and when he got back I asked him if he tied the blue ribbon on our car. He said, "What blue ribbon?" The night before I personally saw that there was a blue ribbon on our car. I told him about the late-night distribution and he said that he didn't see any flyers or ribbons on any of the cars. Wow! All I can figure is that someone went around after these folks and picked up all of their blue ribbons. It was like birds had eaten all of the crumbs and left nothing behind.

I think that people that read this might make some judgements about my position on the pullout. I am not going to share all of my personal beliefs here - let's just say that I probably hold a much more sympathetic position than you may think. Yet, I am interested in peace since I plan on living here, and riding the buses, for a long time.

In other color news, Yaacov has been working hard in and out of court this week trying to get the Jerusalem municipality to put up the rainbow flags for Jerusalem Pride and to allow the use of city parks for Pride. Earlier this week the Jerusalem Open House filed petitions with the District and Supreme Courts to get the city to just respond to requests from the JOH. A decision will be made by a judge on the petition on Sunday. The thing that strikes me as ironic is if the city just went ahead and let the JOH have the parade and use the park, the event probably wouldn't have been in the paper until after the fact. Now, just in time to be really good publicity, the city causes a stink that makes the papers. You can read all about the situation in this article. Most people think that the judge will rule in favor of the Jerusalem Open House and the city will be forced to allow the parade. The city's own lawyer has refused to defend the city's position because he feels that it doesn't have merit. The city is having to hire a private lawyer to defend its position!

Basically, freedom of expression (speech, press, etc) and freedom of assembly are two very important rights. When a city government allows one group to meet and march and then denies another group those same opportunities, the city infringes upon the basis of democracy. It's the "I might not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" idea. The city is trying to put limits on the freedom of speech and assembly - boo! boo!

For more info about Jerusalem Pride, click here.


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