Candles of Darkness
January 5, 2010
It was the last Monday of the year 2009, and at 5PM already dark here in Los
Angeles. The weather treated us nicely, so we stood with only one or two layers,
signs in our hands ("We Stand with Israel”) along with US and Israeli flags and
We were greatly outnumbered, almost five to one. On the other side of the
street, just in front the Israeli Consulate building, about 120 anti-Israel
protestors, all white-Caucasian, children to the elderly, stood with candles and
signs. The darkness and lights of passing cars obliterated them, all except the
I was thinking: Hanukah was just ten days ago, Christmas last Friday, how
befitting, albeit slightly late? A peaceful protest, quite unlike most held
here. The police in great numbers stood on both sides, ready to react if
Even the darkness could not completely disguise the hatred that emanated from
the anti-Israel protestors who were on the way to join the protest and passed by
us. We stood just near the crosswalk, so people faced our "We Stand with Israel”
signs and the American Flag we held.
I thought to myself, "What an eloquent statement, an appropriate way to greet!”
One protestor could not hold back and repeated "SHAME, SHAME.” Another joined in
chanting "Children Murderers, Occupiers.” The first continued "Shame, Shame.”
How ironic from those who condone using babies as human shields.
Slightly later, another woman became furious. She warned me, lest I was
confused, "USA IS NOT ISRAEL.” She, too, like the man who repeated SHAME
earlier, chanted her anti-Israel mantra with a practiced ease time after time. I
imagine my smile irritated her as much or more than the flag and sign I carried.
Just being there was all it took.
Having just returned from a mission to Israel, I still felt the remnants of
jetlag. I could not fathom the reason for their vitriolic protest, or even why
it was being held on this particular Monday afternoon when most people are not
even in Los Angeles. A fellow reporter stopped to ask me why do we stand here. I
replied that Israel is the last fortress standing in the way of radical Islam’s
expansion to conquer the world, so for our own sake, we must support her.
The region is reaching a boiling point, I said, and the rattles we now feel are
just precursors to an imminent major explosion. Iran’s evil tentacles have
already spread via Iraq, Syria and parts of Israel to either side of the
Mediterranean, like claws holding the sea from North and South. If Israel falls,
the USA is next in line. For the sake of both, I said, we must stand strong
together. For America’s sake, we must make our position clear and visible.
I connected this belief with the attempt by the Nigerian national to blow the
plane inbound from Amsterdam to Detroit.
My most recent return flight was on Swiss from Israel via Zurich to Los Angeles.
I already know to fly as inconspicuous as possible. Now with the use of blankets
prohibited, only one handbag allowance and new restrictions coming and going
with the hour, my flying habits will have to change. In addition to arriving
three hours in advance, taking off our shoes and belt and turning on our
computer, we may soon have to submit our underwear for inspection – can you
imagine the sight?
The rules, designed to protect us, are not only meaningless, they are laughable.
At first, anything small we used to carry (clippers, scissors, pocket knives,
cutters, etc.) was confiscated. Silverware (the type used in Business and First)
was eliminated in favor of plastic, later only the knife was kept out, now all
is once again available. Let us not forget, a metal fork can be as deadly as a
knife. If one wants to be really creative, a pencil will suffice as well.
Then the authorities decided to confiscate our liquids, making my mother quite
unhappy. Her bottle of water is taken away from her, just to force her to spend
four or five dollars on a new bottle on the other side of the examination site.
If anyone wants to sneak explosives onto an airplane, it is still very easy to
do. I can even think of a few ways myself. Terrorists so far seem to be steps
ahead of our intelligence efforts. They are already devising the next, more
ingenious, more deadly trap.
All along, our enemies from within urge us not to profile. It is wrong, they
say, not all terrorists are Middle Eastern, not all are Muslim. Those
spokespersons of the Arab Anti-Defamation League should take the opposite
approach altogether. If I were at the helm or one of their slick spokespersons,
I would instruct a complete change of course along the following lines:
We know that all attacks against the West since 2001 were done by a small
group of Islamist extremists shouting "Allah u Akbar” as they exploded
themselves and as many innocent bystanders as possible. Therefore, we, devout
Muslims, declare these acts are against Islam, a blasphemy of the Koran
and The All Merciful.
Accordingly, we welcome the most strict security measures. Please, check and
verify, ask and inquire. We will cooperate. It is our security on the line
exactly as much as everyone else’s. It is our objective to catch and punish the
extremist minority that stains us all very badly.
The spokespersons’ opposite approach, teaching how to avoid scrutiny, argue
rather than cooperate, is very telling. These are the true enemies of the West
and the Democratic Ideals it provides and protects. They use the system against
itself, wishing for its demise, aiming to replace it with a Caliphate.
Time and again we fail. We are all inconvenienced with checks that are as
meaningless as they are expensive. Grandmothers are stopped randomly along with
Senators and former Vice Presidents (when the latter take commercial flights
which they seldom do), while those with clear warning bells and whistles are
completely ignored. The TSA has become a huge mechanism, its value – little if
Profiling must be used. We must disconnect ourselves from arguments raised in
the name of freedom and humanity while designed to undermine them. We long ago
lost our freedom. We experience great discomforts while the perpetrator dances
around taunting us "Islam is a peaceful religion, do not use the word
‘terrorist,’ all is relative, one’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, it
is not me but a few extremists, how dare you profile, look there – the culprit
is just around the corner.” Leading the choir in the background is none other
than the President of the United States of America.
Either we do what must be done to suit the new age of terrorism or soon we will
be bowing on the floor five times a day facing Mecca. Thanks, but not for me.
I shift my thoughts from the flight situation and the greater discomforts I will
have to face in my future travels to the people across the street. Just moments
ago they accused me of being a child murderer and an occupier, Israel of
committing war crimes. They brandish signs that read the same and express hatred
toward Israel and to the USA.
Why do people hate our way of life so much? If it is that bad here, get
involved, vote, try to change. If you absolutely hate it here, move. Go away.
That is another freedom we afford: You do not need to stay. But why teach your
children from young age to hate?
Celebrate America and all it has to offer. You may find that it is the source of
much goodness, trying to share some of its wealth with the world. Other
immigrants came here, embraced their new land and became invaluable to the
American way of life. Why must you seek to destroy it instead?
I proudly continued to stand with the American Flag and the sign reading, "We
Stand with Israel." Two countries, shared values, with endless possibilities and
mutual goals. Who would have believed, just half a century ago, that a person
whose skin color is black would be the President of the USA? Who would have
fathomed the possibility of equal rights, women voting, improved working
conditions? Only in America – the country we love and must always protect and
About Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from
Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers
throughout the world to join them as they present
reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes:
Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from
home. Israel and the United States are inter-related
- the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts -
and so is this "point - counter-point” presentation
that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.