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The impact of importing protest tactics

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HOWARD FELDMAN

The so-called “caravans” are made up of large groups of migrants from Guatemala. They have formed near Honduras, and are moving towards the US border. They are doing so largely to escape extreme poverty and crime. The claim is that it is safer to move in massive numbers to protect themselves and their families. The concern is what will happen when they ultimately reach the US, and how a Trump government will respond to it.

In May, the Hamas protest on the Gaza border led to the death of multiple protesters. It was a bleak moment in Israel’s history. Although it is unclear how the situation could have been handled differently, Israel was roundly condemned. South Africa, at the time, recalled its ambassador to Israel. This is still an unresolved situation.

Once again, it would appear, that what began in Israel as a form of protest and violence, will conclude with the export of the concept around the world. One need look no further than car-ramming and terror stabbings as examples. It is the uncomfortable reality of the region. And one that seems to be repeated over and over again.

In the case of the Gaza protest, Israel lost the public-relations war. Israel, and not Hamas, was condemned around the world with little, if any, sympathy awarded to a country that faced an onslaught of 5 000 people. Many of the protestors had the clear intention of inflicting harm on Israeli civilians, but this was ignored.

With regard to the US “caravan” that is currently about 1 200 miles (1 931km) from the US border, one has to wonder what lies beneath the surface of the initiative.

It is unlikely that 5 000 people have come together organically to march spontaneously toward the border. It requires transport, food, and significant organisation.

That means that there is most likely a political motive behind this. One option is that this is “fuelled” by the Democrats, who are pushing to swing the mid-term election in November. They might be thinking, as in the case of Israel versus Gaza, that the photo opportunities will be spectacular, and Donald Trump could easily be portrayed as an aggressive bully as his people chase and arrest “innocent” migrants.

This might be correct. But the fatal flaw of this argument is that it fails to note a significant aspect of the Israel-Gaza situation. It is that Israel might have received negative publicity globally, but Israelis were not unhappy with a government that protected its citizens. US voters are likely to feel the same. The result will be that there is more chance that this will drive voters to the Republicans, and not away from them.

The possibility exists that the “caravan” is Republican supported to create anxiety and push mid-term voters towards the party. But the risk of doing so would be significant should it be exposed, making it unlikely that this is the case.

What is clear is the déjà vu nature of the event. We have seen this all before in one way or in another. Once again, Israel was first to face a challenge that others will have to confront. And once again, very few will join the dots.

One can only hope that the US border situation will end before it gets ugly, and before people get hurt.

When Hamas began its protest, it became clear that the people who would suffer most were the people of Gaza. They were pawns in an ugly and violent protest. Please G-d, this will be different.

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