The Arab Street vs. The American Mall


Much is written about the angry Arab Street, the figurative place where thousands of people, after watching the latest instance of Israeli brutality on Al Jazeera, rush out and express their frustration. Less is said of the Mall of America, by which I mean the Mall in Washington, D.C.

It has served as a staging ground for some great American moments, including Martin Luther King Jr.'s stirring "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963 and Ricky Martin's performance at the George W. Bush inaugural in 2001. Yesterday, Israel supporters spilled onto the Mall to put the Bush Administration, and the world, on notice that they too have some strong feelings about the injustices in the Middle East and are in no mood to compromise. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz has been pegged as the Administration's butt-kicking hawk. But when he mentioned that "innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying in great numbers" along with Israelis, he might as well have been Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton addressing a crowd of New York's finest for all the boos.

The crowd's pro-Israel stance, if a bit over the top, reflects U.S. public opinion, something that anti-war and pro-Palestinian protestors have discovered lately, even when holding rallies in such progressive places as San Francisco and the University of California at Berkeley. This weekend, though, stateside sympathizers with the Arab Street will get their own moment to demonstrate on the Mall, during the annual grab-bag anti-globalization protest that will temporarily occupy the nation's capital. In between panels on "Resisting Capitalist Globalization," marches to legalize marijuana, and bike rides "to Fight State Terror," there will also be time to "Stop the War at Home and Abroad."