Blue Oranges

Last year at the Israel Independence Day Festival in Woodley Park, anti-disengagement activist Shifra Hastings of Los Angeles was clad all over in orange, the color of protest, right down to her painted fingernails. She tirelessly handed out free orange ribbons, bracelets and T-shirts — even orange soda — to passersby at her booth, speaking to them about the dangers of Israel’s planned, unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.

Many festivalgoers were more than glad to take orange ribbons and free orange T-shirts, until there were unmistakable ripples of orange among the sea of people. She believed that she was helping to turn the tide; that people at the festival were influenced by her viewpoints, and that their responsiveness was more than just a desire for free giveaways. She was certain that the disengagement would never actualize.

This year Hastings has no booth. The disengagement happened on schedule in August. Now there’s an expectation of another “disengagement,” sometimes referred to as “convergence,” this time from portions of Judea and Samaria. But while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made this plan an integral part of his platform, nothing official has been announced, and the protest fervor here and in Israel has not yet fully recharged.

This year for the festival, Hastings is wearing three orange bracelets. She also found some orange ribbons on a “caution” sign, which she removed and tied to her purse. She wouldn’t have attended this year at all if not for some friends she wants to see.

“I feel different than I did a year ago. [Then] I felt hopeful,” says Hastings on the lawn at Woodley Park. “I really didn’t believe it would happen.”


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