R.I.P. Dan Kliman
Earlier this week, I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Dan Kliman, 38, who was a founding member of San Francisco Voice for Israel (SFV4I). I knew Dan from my days as a Bay Area pro-America, pro-Israel grassroots activist, which included a year-long stint with SFV4I. Alongside Dan, other SFV4I members, and members of Protest Warrior, I counter-protested the local Israel-haters on many an occasion and it became an integral part of my political education. (Read some of my after-reports here, here, and here).
Dan was dedicated, passionate, and very in-your-face, both as an outspoken Zionist and a gay activist. Indeed, his proud defense of Israel as the lone haven for gays in the Middle East was a wonderful contrast to the confusion of groups such as Queers for Palestine (now ludicrously known as QUIT or Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism). To make his point, Dan would often hold aloft an Israeli flag and a rainbow flag side-by-side, no doubt causing great cognitive dissonance on the other side. Between Dan and my staunchly pro-Israel, Palestinian-American friend Gus, we helped prove that being pro-Israel need not spring from one's creed nor political affiliation.
The suspicious circumstances surrounding Dan's death (he allegedly fell into an out-of-use elevator shaft in the building where he was taking Arabic classes) are difficult to ignore, particularly since he was a man who did not shy away from making enemies. And among them, no doubt, were those who hated him for being an unapologetic Jewish Zionist. However, the SFPD are maintaining that it was an accident, so for now, we'll have to take a wait and see approach. (Go to Zomblog for a round-up of links on the case and a photo tribute).
Whatever the case, Dan Kliman will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.