Families and tourists expecting an idyllic afternoon at Balboa Park won't be disappointed. That is, if their definition of "idyllic" is bitter religious conflict.
Maybe I should use the dictionary more often.
On Saturday, Jan. 14, between 3 and 6 p.m., the fountain at Balboa Park will be less like a Mayor Jerry Sanders / Irwin Jacobs propaganda video and more like an occupied territory, as pro-Palestinian activists commemorate the so-called "Gaza Massacre" and pro-Israeli activists counter-protest in defense of the Israeli military's "Operation Cast Lead," which resulted in the death of more than 1,000 Palestinians in 2008.
The pro-Palestinian side says it has a long list of supporting organizations, including the the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, San Diego International Action Center, National Lawyers Guild San Diego Chapter and the San Diego branch of the International Socialist Organization, plus a variety of Arab-American and Palestinian student organizations from area colleges. However, so far, not even a hundred people have RSVP'd to the Facebook page.
Meanwhile, StandWithUs, which evolved from the San Diego Israeli Coalition, has sent out an email titled "Christians & Jews face off against Arabs & Socialists in Balboa Park at rallies to remember Gaza War" to its members and the press. The email claims there will be "hundreds of pro-American, pro-Israel supporters rallying, singing, speaking, waving flags and facing off against anti-Israel activists." However, StandWithUs doesn't seem to be lead organizer of the event. Rather, it credits Christians United for Israel, an organization founded by Christian evangelical John Hagee, whose last San Diego event we also profiled.
Pastor Greg Stephens of El Cajon will headline the event for Christians United for Israel.
Stephens ran for the Assembly in 2010 as the endorsed Republican candidate of the Tea Party-affiliated iCaucus. His top priority: Making our border with Mexico a little more like the Israel-Palestine divide, calling for the California National Guard to patrol the border, the passage of SB 1070-style legislation and an end to so-called "sanctuary cities."