"Israel in the Gardens" Overshadowed by Security
I went to "Israel in the Gardens" in San Francisco last weekend for the first time. There was a good mix of political/informational stands inside and the usual protest/counter-protest took place out front. Members of Women in Black marched silently holding signs about Israeli "atrocities" and such (Syria, anyone?), while supporters held Israeli flags aloft nearby, reveling in the air of celebration. An adorably perky group of Israeli teenagers sang and danced on stage in the hot sun. They called themselves "Friendship Caravan"; wonder if the Palestinians have one of those? ;-)
Overshadowing the day was the undeniable presence of security, which is a must these days at any pro-Israel and/or Jewish event. To get inside, we had to go through a bag search, pat down, and--with arms and legs akimbo--a metal detector wand. There was only one entrance and exit for a huge area; all the doors on the Metreon building adjoining Yerba Buena Gardens--where the event took place--were sealed off; and security guards roamed the lower and higher grounds looking for troublemakers. I half expect to see snipers, but no such luck.
For some reason, it never seems to occur to anyone to question why Jews, particularly of the pro-Israel variety, require this level of security. Do other ethnic groups, for instance, have to do the same for their public events? Methinks not. There's that pesky matter of certain people wanting to kill you for who you are...