Peace for Palestine? A Travelers Tale

Recently I traveled to Washington DC for the first time since I was ten. Taking in the monuments with a mature level of understanding was exhilarating; second only to having the knowledge to help my children experience their history. To gaze at the magnificence of Thomas Jefferson’s nineteen foot statue or witness Abraham Lincoln’s solemn stare as you climb his monuments steps was worth every hour of the flight from Phoenix to DC.

Packing up the family and traveling when you’re self employed is never a simple task. Children who haven’t flown in their lives are excitedly inquisitive for about the first hour of each leg of the flight. But after the Game Boy gets tiring and reading loses its appeal the next most agreeable entertainment, aside from the gratuitous pretzels and juice, is to see who can agitate who before dad roars. Thankfully the trip was divided into two segments which helped to keep the peace.

It filled my heart with a twinge of sadness when we began to descend into Milwaukee and I witnessed my kids marveling at the lush beauty of green. They gawked at the trees and the expanse of Lake Michigan as we resumed our journey toward Washington DC. I’ll never forget their expressions of awe as the Washington monument moved from a picture in one of dads “boring books” to a reality just beneath their window. So began my children’s immersion into an America they, thanks to their Arizona education, were almost completely ignorant of.

Out of the great many monuments, documents, places, and foods my children experienced in our five day stay in DC, only one experience seems to have transcended tourism and grew into legend – my encounter with a Palestinian Protest while waiting for a tour bus.

The event took place on our fourth day in Washington. We’d already seen just about everything we wanted to see – some things twice- and decided to take a tour bus to the National Cathedral and Georgetown.  As the bus passed the Capital Building that Sunday we witnessed perhaps a thousand people rallying to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to urge an end of US support to Israel.

The tour continued on its route out of the Capitol Hill parking lot and proceeded past a Gay Pride rally where my kids witnessed grown men wearing dresses. I must admit, I lack any degree of empathy for some politically correct causes so my children’s humor toward grown men dressing like trashy women was most welcome.

Since we had a few hours remaining on our tour, we decided to step off the bus to view the Smithsonian Natural History museum. It was an unplanned stop since we intended to visit the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan in a few days. We stayed about an hour and a half looking at dinosaur bones and minerals before returning to the bus stop to rejoin our tour for the trip back to the hotel.

As we approached the bus stop the Free Palestine people started marching en masse down Independence Avenue. As fate would have it, this forced the closure of the entire street which completely obstructed traffic, delayed our tour bus, and set the stage to my rise to fame (according to my children).

After a few minutes of explaining to my kids what they were witnessing – an actual non-Mexican rally on American streets – chants began to erupt from the throng of people.  “Palestinians only want Peace,” “End Israeli occupation,” “Stop the Israeli murderers,” and “End US support of Israel!”

I silently endured this claptrap as an example of tolerance to my children.  Deliberately I held my tongue so I wouldn’t embarrass my wife. After all, Americans have the right to speak freely.

 And then it happened…some halfwit decided that I looked like a good target to focus his attention as he shouted his absurdities. He yelled something to the effect that all the Palestinians wanted was peace and that the thieving, murderous, lying Jews stole their land and keep the oppressed.

 Perhaps it was something about his eyes, or maybe it was his tone but I could no longer stomach the rhetoric. I loudly asked a simple question of this man: “Why do you strap bombs to your kids to blow up civilians?” Shocked at a reply, he straightened his gaze and quickened his pace. I have to believe from his expression that this thought never really occurred to him.

My voice must have carried as other marchers gave me, as my son calls it, the “look of doom” as they passed. Despite all the looks of utter contempt and the angry tones direct toward me I, with my son peering around my elbow, continued to ask how they could be for peace when they send their babies to blow up innocent people. But it wasn’t until I mentioned that there never has been a nation or a people called Palestine that things got a little heated. Naturally not one protestor stopped to answer me but the gestures from these peace loving people made me thankful that those in burkas weren’t packing explosives.

The encounter ended abruptly when a motorcycle policeman drove between the slowing Palestinian sympathizers and me.  As the marchers shunned me I found myself angry at all those things I should have said. But then my sons questions started and I was thankful I didn’t uncork these hatefully myopic people.

Suddenly I was elevated by my son to hero status. I stood up to these people who he sees on the news supporting terrorist acts. Both my kids were energized and my wife was kind of silent as we boarded the bus almost thirty minutes after we were supposed to be picked up. To my wife’s discomfort, further explanation was necessary to explain to my 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter the notion of Palestine, their role in promoting terror, the PLO, and Allah’s people’s propensity to earn their heaven by blowing up themselves or, even more cowardly, sending their children off to martyrdom.

It was after this vocal, but not overly loud, conversation with my kids that I noticed people a few seats ahead of us were carrying flyers from the Palestinian protest. I was surprised, but not stunned, to read "World Can’t Wait" on the bottom of their flyer in smallish print. I should have known well before hand that these sympathizers would be somehow affiliated with a hostile Communist group in the United States. Of course I explained World Can’t Wait just loudly enough to prick the ears of most people nearby.

Judging from the faces in the rally I have to conclude that there is a tremendous amount of ignorance or deliberate omission of factual information in American colleges. It’s one thing for an American kid to convince himself he’s some kind of intellectually superior peacenik and another to walk down the streets of your Capitol arm-in-arm with those who support suicide bombing, terrorism and the destruction of your country.

Overall I have to believe that the incident was a net gain. I took some interesting pictures.  I had an opportunity to talk to my children about important matters, to show them that although Americans may have the right to speak that others have the right to challenge that speech, and that silence in the face of a horrendous lie is just not acceptable. Perhaps best of all, I am a hero to my kids for walking what I’ve been talking all these years.

Ironically, three days after the DC protest the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas attacked and murdered hundreds in the Israeli relinquished Gaza strip.  Amidst the looting, they murdered Palestinian politicians in front of their families and ordered that all Israeli collaborators must be killed.

Palestinians for peace?