Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dorks in Snow Pants for Israel

"Israeli Apartheid Week" 2009

Monday, March 2nd: Part 1
Ryerson University
Wait... I was the only one wearing snow pants? You're sure about that?

It was extremely cold: the City of Toronto had already declared a cold weather alert and we were close to a cold weather warning by the time I left my warm, cozy home.

At such low temperatures, the battery on my video camera drains quickly, so it spent most of the evening tucked between the layers of my short-sleeved t-shirt, long-sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt and coat. (Thus adding to the lumpiness of my frumpiness.)

I deftly avoided what they used to call a "power-out situation" on the subway line by hopping onto a streetcar for the last leg of my trek. (Yeah, okay, dames in snow pants don't hop, they squeak, squeak, squeak along. It was more like a hop, squeak and a jump onto the streetcar, with a squoosh of air leaving the snow pants as I sat down.)

Once downtown, I was gladdened by the sight of several Israeli flags held aloft by the pro-Israel crowd outside Ryerson University. I picked up a flag and stood in solidarity with them.

My friend arrived and we entered the lobby, grateful for its warmth, and stood patiently in line: me first, then some Jewish friends. As we reached the front of the line, the male, Muslim bouncers closed the doors and announced that the room was full. We had lined up late, so I knew there was a chance we might not get in.

I stood there, first in line, with my Jewish friends behind me, and waited, convinced I would be the next person to enter the lecture hall. I was baffled, then disgruntled, as the bouncers started to pick various people from behind us in the line-up and let them into the auditorium. When my petite, middle-aged, female friend moved to follow some of them into the room, one of the bouncers physically blocked her upper body with his arms and pushed her away. I protested, so he apologized and backed off.

The people around me noticed what was happening and we started to grumble. Ignoring our complaints of "Apartheid Toronto!", the security guards let in about a dozen people from here and there in the crowd behind us.

One bouncer said, "They're organizers. It wouldn't be fair for them not to see it."

I didn't believe him because the people he let in were not dressed in any particular way (except their keffiyehs) and were not wearing badges; most did not approach him at the door but instead stood silently in line.

Remember the scene in Zoolander when Derek greets celebrities at a nightclub? "Hey, Paris." It was like that, only the celebrities were the ones wearing hijabs or keffiyehs and they all had the same name. "Hey, pro-Palestinian!" Same difference.

More smug bouncers arrived at the auditorium doors as if they'd received a warning on their headsets: "Grumbling alert! Quick, send reinforcements!"

They weren't interested in the unfairness of it all. Social Justice is a one-way street in Palestine.

They announced that we had to move several feet to the left to clear the doors. Well, that made sense in terms of fire safety, but I didn't want to lose my place at the head of the line. I wound up third in the new line-up but it didn't matter: first or third, I wasn't getting in. After 10-15 minutes, we gave up and dispersed.

Higher Learning Lesson #1: Get there early so the bouncers have no excuse for keeping you out. Once the lecture starts and the doors close, they will only let in obvious Muslims, known allies and keffiyeh-wearers.

Islamic Security Apartheid!

To be continued...