From Gaza to Chicago

5:15 PM -- So, there I was, at Mobile Business Expo at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago last night, when they started putting up all these metal detectors.

The Hyatt convention center is a vast, labyrinthine, underground structure that hosts many events simultaneously (among this week's events: an Overeaters Anonymous gathering and the Tax Credit Developers Summit), so when a bunch of stocky, stern-looking fellows with corded earpieces showed up and starting erecting barriers outside the Grand Ballroom, I figured it must be a political appearance of some kind. Maybe John Kerry doing his standup routine?

On closer look, these guys weren't WASPish enough to be Secret Service; they were more, ahh... Levantine in appearance. And they weren't messing around: When I started to stroll through one of the metal detectors they almost wrestled me to the ground.

Turns out the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces were having a big fundraiser in Chicago. The guys with the earpieces, I figure, were ex-Mossad.

In addition to providing support for widows and orphans of slain Israeli soldiers, the FIDF functions as a sort of USO for the Israeli Army, putting on cultural and recreational programs for "the young men and women soldiers of Israel who defend the Jewish homeland."

As one attendee at Mobile Business Expo told me, "I think I'm going to have a long dinner outside the hotel tonight."

The event staff at MBE were given wristbands so they could pass through the checkpoints. Printed on the blue wristbands: "I support the Israeli Defense Forces." I managed to swipe one as a souvenir. It'll look great with my keffiyeh.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

serlich 12/5/2012 | 3:36:07 AM
re: From Gaza to Chicago Well, I'd expect the writer to have some general knowledge in addition to WiFi knowledge. Gaza is not part of Israel, it belong to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinians (Arabs) are now the enemies of Israel. Keffia is an Arab dress item and not an Israeli.
RBMartin 12/5/2012 | 3:36:04 AM
re: From Gaza to Chicago Umm, "corrections"?

1. Of course Gaza is part of Palestine and under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. The IDF has been, shall we say, "active" in the Gaza Strip. From a recent news story chosen at random:

<< The Israel Defense Forces defined the unusual operation carried out by a commando force early Saturday in the Gaza Strip as "a remarkable operation of high quality." >>

2. If you'd followed the link you'd know that, again of course, I'm well aware that a keffiyeh is an item of Arab dress. That was the point. It's called "paradox." It's a figure of rhetoric in which 2 conflicting items or images are used in conjunction....but I have a suspicion that explaining, in this case, is not going to help.

Thanks for reading,

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