Gita Conn

I want to weep for Sophie’s naivety and rage at those indoctrinating her

An encounter with a pro-Palestine demonstrator was frustrating and enraging


Free Palestine protest in London

June 17, 2024 17:33

I can’t get Sophie out of my head. I have imaginary conversations with her when I can’t sleep. When I think of her, I become sad, enraged, frustrated and...hopeless.

She was young, white, pretty, softly spoken with an upper middle class inflection. I bet she had been popular at school, head girl maybe and one of those who sang in care homes and helped in food banks.

The tram was delayed and so we chatted on the platform. I didn’t want to be late for the Mahler concert; she was going to join a protest march.

“Oh yes?” I asked politely.

“For Palestine,” she answered.

“Why?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said a little patronisingly as if I had asked a very stupid question. “It’s for humanity.”

As calmly as I could, I asked if she shouted, ‘From the River to the Sea’ and if she knew which river and which sea. She replied: “You are being confrontational now. I don’t like confrontation.”

I showed her my ‘Bring Them Home’ tag. “What about them,” I asked – politely (I think). “Do you protest for them?”

As if explaining to a dim 10 year old, she told me that Netanyahu had repeatedly refused a deal to have the hostages returned. I pointed out that the ‘deal’ meant the freeing of terrorists in Israeli prisons.

“They’re not terrorists.” She raised her voice a fraction. “They are all children. We have the evidence.”

“Don’t you know?” she added. “Israelis took part in that massacre on 7th October. There’s evidence.”

Weakly, I resorted to telling her that my late brother had taken Palestinians from the checkpoints to hospitals in Israel.

“He must have been a good man,” she said, sanctimoniously.

I pointed out that her protests were calling for the elimination of Jews. She disagreed. “No. I respect Judaism. We’re marching for humanity.”

And then, as if to absolutely Q.E.D. her position, she assured me that there were many Jewish people marching with her on the protests.

I couldn’t respond to that. I just wanted to weep, weep for her naivety, rage at those indoctrinating her and cry for that tiny piece of land, the only homeland of the Jews, around which the noose is tightening.

She was obviously relieved when the tram finally arrived. She took the furthest carriage from mine, away from this crazy old bat who cares not a jot for “humanity”.

June 17, 2024 17:33

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