Published On: Tue, Aug 19th, 2014

Pro-Israel Rally in Brighton Turns into Traditional English Pantomime

Brighton Rally

In Brighton, UK, a pro-Israel demonstration, with a few counter protesters (inevitably) showing up escalated in something resembling a traditional English pantomime or a Monty Python sketch.


As an American, the first time I encountered this shtick was watching Monty Python sketch where the buxom Carol Cleveland, dressed up as Puss N’ Boots led a chorus of “Oh yes it is!” answered by a small crowd saying “Oh no it isn’t.” I found it funny without knowing the reference was to what happens at these English Pantomimes, theatrical holiday performances for children with legendary character from Fairy Tales leading  with a chorus of affirmative statements coaxing naysayers from the audience. Perhaps it is reminiscent of  what happens in Parliament as well.

Anyway, back to the rally in Brighton. Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, stated that creating division between Jews over Israel was precisely the aim of those who sought Israel’s destruction. Immediately, a pro-Palestinian Jewish activist wearing a keffiyeh, a neck scarf that has taken symbolic dimensions to represent the Palestinian struggle, took up his megaphone and yelled sarcastic comments at Colonel Kemp and the demonstrators. He even used Arabic expressions like yalla which, in my early days as an immigrant to Israel, I thought were Hebrew, since they have entered so completely into the Israeli vernacular. Yalla! (let’s go, come on).

Of course, he received vociferous responses from his pro-Israeli opponents, and the two sides were  passionately engaged in the pantomime repartee of basically, “Oh yes it is (i.e. the aim of Israel’s opponents to cause Jews to argue (?))” and “Oh, no it isn’t, ” with a few yallas thrown in for good measure. The fellow with the megaphone was so engrossed in the repartee with the crowd that he refused to speak to the press, although a woman by the name of Geoffrey Cohen (actually and obviously, not her real name, but that is the code name people from her organization use when they speak to the press) from the far left Jewish organization Jewdas, did speak to the media. “Bombing for peace?” she said, “A rally for peace in Israel is a contradiction in terms.”

Colonel Kemp insists that organizations like Hamas want to destroy the Jewish nation by forcing Jews to disagree, as if only a carefully orchestrated strategy could cause such a rare turn of events , the radical with the megaphone argued against that notion, the crowd argued that divisiveness was indeed the root of the problem, and Geoffrey Cohen, or whoever she really is, said the rally should not have occurred in the first place because the Israel is antithetical to the notion of peace.

But perhaps it is too hard to follow all that. Or perhaps it isn’t. Or maybe it is. Or isn’t.

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