by James C. Sherlock
At 78, I have been all over the world often and for long periods of time. I felt myself reasonably immune to cultural surprises.
But I had never seen anything like this.
It was the Maghrib prayer time about 5 p.m. on Saturday. On the southeast corner of 12th and Pennsylvania Ave. in D.C., a devout Muslim man was in the sujood prayer position on the sidewalk, forehead touching the ground.
That was not the surprise.
But a girl we took to be the praying man’s daughter was waiting a few feet away next to her mother and three young siblings. She looked to be, at the most, four years old.
There had been thousands like her at the festival on that beautiful afternoon. Families with toddlers and baby carriages were everywhere at the edges of the demonstrations. Watching. Learning.
Full of adrenaline from the hate that had been spewed out on a huge screen broadcasting anti-Israel rally speakers in the middle of shut-down Pennsylvania Avenue, that beautiful little girl was jumping up and down, tiny fists clenched, shouting in her small voice “Gaza,” “Gaza,” “Gaza.”
Three thousand years of hatred of Jews was being passed down to another generation.
It is never going to stop.
My wife, my grandson and I first passed that rally on Saturday about 1:30 p.m. We had promised him a trip to the Smithsonian. So, we went.
We emerged from a parking garage immediately north of Pennsylvania Avenue on 11th street and headed to the museums. We paused to watch a bit of one of the protest speeches on that giant screen.
The speaker was enraged, screaming out her hatred.
Every type of proud radical leftist was there with signs advertising his or her “intersections” with other Jew haters.
Democratic Socialists of America labels were on the backs of the vests of official “guides.”
BLM sweatshirts. Gaggles of young women with tattoos, piercings and multi-colored hair. Determined-looking young couples with practiced scowls. “Queers for Gaza.” College freshmen on an outing.
Chinese-funded Code Pink, which had been a leading organizer of the event.
I saw a couple of aging hippie couples, now in pricey protest clothes, the men with grey hair tied back in pony tails. Perhaps tenured.
And the large Muslim families.
Scattered among the “Cease Fire Now” and “Free Palestine” signs within our view:
- “Intifada forever”
- “From the River to the Sea …”
- “F… Jews”
We walked on to the Natural History Museum.
Entering on Constitution Avenue, we found a line for its bathrooms filled with protestors. Inside the men’s room was a young man changing into an outfit pulled from his backpack. He had chosen head-to-toe black, finished with a black tactical Keffiyeh Shemagh head scarf.
To keep blowing sand out of his eyes, we imagined.
He checked himself out in the mirror before he left.
We walked on to other, more official exhibits.
It was on the way back from the museums that we saw the little girl. I could not get the sight out of my head to go to sleep that night. Still tough.
Asra Nomani, as usual, has told the story of Saturday’s hate festival in D.C. better than I.
She, too, saw a child learning to be an American jihadist.
Bottom line. Saturday’s protests were equal parts anti-Israel, anti-Jew and anti-America. Jews are not safe in America. Because they are not, none of us are — or deserve to be.
Which brings me back to UVa and George Mason. And other Virginia schools that continue to host and support chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and other notorious antisemitic groups funded by the radical left.
Their presidents disgrace themselves and endanger their Jewish communities every day they host those dangerous organizations.
American Jews will need to become harder targets. And they know it. They are reportedly buying guns in unprecedented numbers since October 7th.
I recommend that they do more than just purchase weapons. Actively create a gun culture. Develop tactical shooting skills. Practice. Take martial arts training. As families.
Make the Jew haters worry about you for a change.
Most Americans join you in pledging “never again.” And acting on that pledge.