Back in Jerusalem again. The Western side of the city keeps on pacing in elephant steps towards its realization as an overly populated messianic Zionist capitalist dystopia, wrought with new twelve-story luxury apartment complexes, replete with orange-yellow Jerusalemite stone all the way to the cellular antennae on the red-tiled European rooftops. The streets overflow with the razzmatazz of chic blue Jeans clad boys dancing with their Breslev yarmulkes to the heartwrenching sound of a troupe of Christian Koreans playing Jewish music.
This is real. I saw them last night next to Jaffa Gate on the way to play samba with my friends. The Koreans distribute awkwardly written Hebrew leaflets saying, “We are really sorry for what Christianity and Christians have been doing to Jews since the fourth century.” The last line reads, “From Koreans who love Jews and pray for Israel.” The walls of the Old City shine in blue and white colored LED lights nearby.
Our samba band assembles, incidentally, at a march for animal rights. I love playing samba. The whole world turns into a blend of delicious tunes, a symphony of simple beats fitting into each other like puzzle parts to make a shapeshifting auditory complex. I play and let the world disappear, joyfully ignoring the absurdity of marching next to the occupied Judiaizing Old City for a single-issue protest with soldiers who wear the new vegan military boots. That’s one small cruelty-free step on Palestinian rights, one giant leap for Israel.
This is all more absurd considering that the ever-growing animal rights movement in Israel is possibly the one confirmed anarchist conspiracy that actually worked. As revealed by an insider in this interview, Anonymous (in English they normally call it “Anonymous for Animal Rights” to avoid confusion), an NGO and the biggest animal rights organization in Israel, was an early 1990’s anarchist plot, a way to inject compassion into the Israeli public from an unexpected avenue. The organization was gradually taken over by single-issue minded activists, until the anarchists finally split in 2001 to form the group One Struggle, who eventually became Anarchists Against the Wall.
The dissonance inherent in advocating solely for animal rights in an apartheid regime is apparently not as evident as one would hope. An example is a new single-issue group with mainstream appeal called the Animal Liberation Front in Israel, founded by a vegan winner of the reality TV show “The Big Brother.” Any connection to the ALF is purely coincidental. My veganarchist friends call them “Hahazitush,” which in Hebrew makes their name sound like “the cute little Front-y with sparkly glitter.” Halfway into the march yesterday, as I was still tripping on funky music, the Hazitush held a direct action against our samba band, forcing us to stop playing. “We came here to yell against death and you’re turning it into a carnival!” One shouted. Still high, I called, “Animal Liberation Front, where are your ski masks? Where is the black bloc?” To which they responded, “I feel like I’m in Rio De Janeiro!” I was tempted to reciprocate their coherence and yell an old Symbionese Liberation Army slogan calling for death to the fascist insect who preys on the life of the working class, but my bestie calmed me down hissing through his two missing front teeth, “You’re blending Jerusalem inside of itself.” To my defense, I did have a long, memorable day. More on that some other time.