NEW YORK — The usual after work large crowd at Union Sq. in NYC got to see some dynamic street theater on June 3rd, the 43rd anniversary of the illegal Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem. The event was organized by Women in Black – Union Square (they hold a vigil on the little island just south of Union Sq. every Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30) and Adalah-NY. A painted cardboard replica of the Israeli Apartheid Wall stood in the center of the square, complete with graffiti, photos of the real wall, and a checkpoint with an Israeli flag. There were several people acting the role of Israeli soldiers who were armed with a cardboard assault rifle (that the NYPD objected to) at the checkpoint. People wearing signs on their backs labeling them as “Farmer”, “Needs Medical Help”, “Student”, or “Respected Elder” stood on the line and were spoken to abusively by the ‘soldiers’. It showed the waits and the frustrations Palestinians must endure while they try to move about. The “Student”, without provocation, was knocked to the ground, handcuffed, and arrested by the Israeli soldiers.
While the scene was repeatedly played out the Women in Black stood holding their signs decrying the occupation while others distributed informative leaflets. Between acts Dave, an intrepid political troubadour, led the group in singing anti-apartheid and anti-occupation songs. A very substantial mass of people gathered to watch, to discuss, to agree, or to argue. For a brief hour or two Union Square lived up to it’s reputation during the 1930′s and 40′s as an area where the issues of the day were hammered out with sharp political debate