Analyzing Protest

By now it has made international news that racial tensions are at an extreme high in the United States of America. The death of Michael Brown who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson was the spark of the fire. Wilson subsequently not being indicted for murder was the initial violent blaze.

Now another unarmed man, Eric Garner, has been killed by a police officer and the backlash continues to fan the flames of fiery unrest.  First there were the riots in Ferguson, Missouri where Brown was killed. Thousands gathered together in the streets after the Wilson verdict ready to burn down buildings, smash storefront windows, physically attack law enforcers and loot businesses. It was an unprecedented amount of violence and destruction of which the city of Ferguson was very ill-prepared for. Following that day there have been protests in almost every major city, some leading to violent behavior and arrests.  Even small towns and college campuses haven’t missed out on a riot or two.  No one is taking these tragic events lightly.

For some reason, my mind can’t help but shift to Israel.  With all of the social injustice that people complain about and protest in daily life to the ever worsening conflicts with its neighboring enemies, there seem to be some parallels between the Jewish State and what is going on right now in America.  Before I elaborate on that a little bit, let me just say that I DO NOT think that Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s murderers should walk free. I do think there is an issue of systemized racism in both my previous (Israel) and current home (USA).  But my biggest problem with both of these racial conflicts is how it is being handled RIGHT NOW.  I am not talking about law enforcement or national security. This is not about black vs. white, Arab vs. Jew.  I am talking about minority society in general and the way they choose to deal with these complex and heated issues of injustice.

The African American community has very real, justified grievances in the United States of America.   Look back 200 years in history and you will find the root of them, but some disturbing problems still exist today. I’d say the brunt of them are socio-economic but clearly a lot of inequality exists in our justice system as well.  I am all for a peaceful protest here and there about these injustices. I am even more for taking real steps towards real action to produce real change in this country and in the world.

But here’s what I’m really, really not for: blocking traffic on a weekday morning so that people are late for work, kids miss school and medical workers can’t get to their patients in time. I’m against  violently looting and destroying businesses (African American owned ones at that) which are somebody’s livelihood, now gone. I am against random acts of violence in the street towards police officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect people.  I am against abruptly coming out and crashing a community holiday event for children in MY home town by yelling in little kids’ faces “Black lives matter!”

Yes, yes…black lives DO matter. But so do Jews’ lives, cancer patients lives, cops’ lives homosexuals lives, and peoples’ businesses and jobs and educations!!!  Why mourn a loss by disrupting the lives of others? Why take vengeance on violence with violence? Why protest racism by inciting more hate and negativity?  And furthermore, where do these protesters think this is really going to get them??  Is the racist society which they are protesting going to look on them with pity and say “yes you are right?” No, it is only going to perpetuate more racism!!!  The last time I checked there is a black President sitting in the White House and he did not get there by destroying, looting, protesting and fighting authority.  To quote the famous cliche, don’t make a difference, BE the difference!!

I can’t help but wonder what these recent current events would have looked like if the two murder victims (who were alleged criminals by the way, not worthy of death but worth noting) were gay women. Or better yet, Jews (because let’s face it, innocent Jews are NEVER a target right?)  Or even better yet, Muslims! Really, what would that aftermath look like?  Thousands pouring into the streets in San Francisco and the West village punching female cops in the uterus and yelling “Lesbians matter!”?  Kipah clad men standing arm in arm blocking the freeway demanding justice and while they’re at it, for every Jewish holiday to be a bank holiday in the States? Or would it just turn into a great big homegrown jihad fest?  Would a badly handled police brutality case have produced the same amount of uproar from these other groups? I sincerely doubt it, which reiterates my case that while justice should be served, and the race problem should solved, inciting more violence and wreaking havoc on society is simply not the answer.  I get it, youre mad.  I’m mad too! Iran has a freakin nuke for G*d’s sake.  I’d like to break stuff, not go to work, lay on the ground and throw a tantrum like a toddler but guess what? We’ve all got to grow up sometime  and handle ourselves with some semblance of civility.

At the risk of saying something very controversial, I dare to make a comparison between the current protestors in the United States and the  terror threats Israel faces daily.  No, I did not just say anyone who protests is a terrorist. I am also not saying that every protestor is violent and destructive like a terrorist. Distinction. Just hear me out. The very interesting thing a lot of people don’t realize about terror is that to someone, somewhere, every act of terror is justified. To a sane person of course it isn’t. But to the terrorist, whether it is a religious motive or simply an act to preserve and protect ones political interests or principles it is seen as the only way out….a means to an end (or a never-end, in fact).

Therefore, terrorists and protestors alike feel like what they are doing is the only solution to getting what they want, or what is justly theirs whether it be land, equal rights, total world domination or a pile of dead Jews (or all of the above in some cases).  Now obviously I am being dark and cynical, but just look at the black and white (no pun intended-sorry) facts and you’ll see the parallels.

The disturbing thing, however, is the seeming lack of consequence exhibited by both parties.  In the case if terrorists, particularly those acting or originating in the Middle East, if death is the consequence then it is actually a reward because it is considered an honor to die as a martyr for one’s cause.  It is this reason that the jihadists that hate Israel and the West will stop at nothing for their believed causes.

But what about the recent protestors in Ferguson, MO? While they were looting businesses and setting cars on fire it didn’t seem to me they really cared about the consequences either.  They didn’t stop and think of whose lives they were hurting because of their (however valid) grievances.  They certainly got the worlds attention, which is presumably part of what they were after, but when all the dust settles, NOTHING WILL CHANGE until people start using their heads and their hearts, not their fists and their anger to be the change. And as for Israel, Golda said it best: “Peace will come when our enemies love their own children more than they hate us.”

Decency people…..decency.  Let’s break the cycle.

About the Author
Lauren is a passionate thinker and blogger. She lived in Israel for three years and currently resides in Tampa, FL. She discusses her experiences in Israel as well as current global issues in her blog "twirlinginthesun"