How to throw a protest party
Here’s an opinion I’m fairly certain won’t be a popular one. What if we looked at this whole protest thing from another angle? What if we didn’t meet protest with protest, flag with flag, screaming with shouting, and what if we didn’t allow hate onto the agenda? What if instead of protecting our neighbourhoods from the onslaught of anti-Israel demonstrators, we welcomed them as our guests? Because after all, last Sunday’s protestors were our guests. In a strange way.
And I hope we weren’t rude.
Before you explain to me they didn’t wish us well, let me pre-empt it by saying that I have a list of Shabbat guests we have had in our home that were less kind. And maybe more deadly.
I know that if my mom was still alive, her first question would be to ask what we will be serving our guests from another neighbourhood. And because running out of food isn’t an option, we would have to go the catered route. Although tempted to choose falafel and pita, it would be best, I would tell her (if she were alive), to keep away from anything Middle Eastern. I would hate to have resolved the Israel Palestinian conflict only to have it fall apart in an argument as to who invented humus. No, Nando’s – an unequivocally Portuguese and South African brand that has the ability to provide kosher and halaal – would be an obvious choice.
Not only does everyone love Nando’s, but it’s almost impossible to scream something hateful while eating a double chicken burger, lemon and herb, with no garnish. We have tested this on our children. It’s also virtually impossible to hold tightly on to a Hezbollah flag with marinade dripping down your arm.
Don’t ask me how I know this.
For dessert, I would open it up to the greater Glenhazel bakers to whip up something in blue, white, red, and green, and mention to our pro-Palestinians that if they do want to bring something with them into our area, cut up fruit always goes down well.
The music choice also can’t be left to chance. I would refrain from playing anything by Shwekey or Omer Adam, but would definitely go with Jerusalema, Johnny Clegg, to remind our guests that Jews can both sing and dance, and Kaptein, just to mix it up a little.
Whereas I’m fully aware that the success of my protest party is dependent on our guests not wanting us dead for being Zionists, I do wonder if it isn’t time we considered alternatives to the traditional hate festival. And, whereas it might be too soon to go the Nando’s route, I do believe that in South Africa, we have the opportunity to do things differently.
Why? Because we aren’t so good at hate. Because as South Africans, we can’t help ourselves and deep down, we don’t want conflict. Scream what we will, I believe that South Africans on either side of the Beyachad wall are decent people who might view life and history differently, but who following a protest, would be the first to help each other out.
I believe it’s time for us to take our responsibility seriously, and it’s time for us to show the world how conflict can be resolved. And even if we can’t agree on who invented humus, we can always order a double chicken burger, lemon and herb, with no garnish.