Disturbing the Peace

The local conversation between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian activists is getting less civil every day. And Lee Kaplan's tactics aren't helping.

It seemed like the workshop might come to a close without further incident. Suddenly, a new uproar erupted by the doorway. "He used a camera!" shouted one of the organizers, pointing to Kaplan, who was holding a chunky pen. "It has a lens; he took a picture!"

Everyone turned on Kaplan, who protested, "It's a computer pen! It's a computer pen!"

A few organizers leaned in around him, apparently demanding that he turn the questionable object over.

Lee Kaplan confronts pro-Palestinian activists at their rallies, conferences, and training sessions.
Lee Kaplan confronts pro-Palestinian activists at their rallies, conferences, and training sessions.
Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators face off across Montgomery Street.
Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators face off across Montgomery Street.

"Kiss my ass," Kaplan replied.

Unwilling to wrest the pen from his hands, Al-Qare took the high road, announcing that the police would investigate. The session broke up as several activists ran to the student lounge to find the cops.

In the lounge, a flat-screen TV tuned to CNN showed images of rubble in the streets of Beirut, and posted the phone numbers that Americans in Lebanon could call to arrange for evacuation by sea. An Israeli missile had hit a civilian convoy, the station reported, killing 23 people who were evacuating their village. Hezbollah forces had launched a barrage of Katyusha rockets that fell on the Israeli city of Tiberius. And there was no word of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

Meanwhile, Kaplan retreated down the hallway and headed for the exit. He had discomfited nearly everyone at the conference, and thoroughly derailed the proceedings of the student workshop. He had photos of activists that he could add to his "rogues' gallery," and he had material for his next article. It was a good day's work.

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