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I made the following speech at the Rally called by the Socialist Party of Serbia to protest on the 2nd anniversary of NATO aggression against Yugoslavia.
The crowd was at least 50,000 people.
Driving to the Rally on a broad Belgrade avenue, it was surreal. On one side of the street, billboard after billboard advertising, in English, glitzy products, mainly running shoes and also perfume in a country in which the economy has declined 60% since the pro-U.S. coup Oct 5th, a country in which most people are out of work. Later I checked in stores and running shoes cost nearly as much in Belgrade as they do in New York - how can this be in a country where $200 a month is a good pay check. (A single person can *maybe* get by on $2500 a month before taxes in the U.S., depending on where he or she lives...)
So why then the billboards? They can't be profitable. Perhaps they are intended to advertise the "inadequacy" of Yugoslavia to the young. "Want shoes? Can't have 'em!"
Interspersed with the running shoe billboards were others with Mr. Milosevic's face and underneath the words: "WHO IS GUILTY?" Like something out of Orwell's book, '1984.'
Who is guilty, I thought. Perhaps if I speak I should discuss that...
And then, on the other side of the street: the blackened shell of a 20-story building, gutted by bombs.
Who is guilty?
People are angry. There was some concern how they would react if I, an American, spoke. As it turned out, they demonstrated great generosity of spirit. Afterwards I was hugged and kissed by a few hundred people. This is something that must be experienced.
They tried to carry me. This was an error born of enthusiasm: failure to calculate girth. (In the process my glasses got squashed; fault of The Serbs.)
In case it's hard to make out the words because of the chanting and shouting, I transcribed the text of my speech, below. In a couple of places where I wasn't sure what I said, I put an educated guess in brackets. But then, the best thing wasn't my words, it was the people.
To watch a video of the speech, use the link below.
If you don't have RealPlayer, your computer will offer to download it.
Jared Israel's Speech, March 24th Rally, Belgrade
My dear, wonderful Serbs. I am an American Jew. I wanted to thank you for what you did during World War II to stop the old Nazis in their tracks. Because you and your fathers and mothers gave your lives to protect my people. And I want to thank you for stopping these new Nazis, for standing up to the Beast who has taken control of my country. Mr. Djindjic, Mr. Djindjic...Long interruption, demonstration in the crowd [The criminal Djindjic...] Mr. Djindjic went [to get his orders in] Washington. But I prefer some clean air. So I've come to a country where the people fight for dignity instead of to a city where money is King.
He was put in power by vast amounts of money that was stolen from the American people.
You see, my friends, the TV is a pack of lies. There are two Americas. Maybe three. There's the America on the TV, which is baloney. Nonsense. It means as much as the billboards which are all America has given Serbia. The billboards with pretty things. Right? That's all they'll give. You see, you believe in give and take. But the second America, the America of Clinton and Bush and Albright and the rest of the filth only knows how to take. They take from Serbia; they take from Bulgaria; they changed Rumania into a ruin.
They own - this second American owns the International Monetary Fund. They don't give you anything. They take your heart out and break it. Maybe you'll get McDonalds, which you can't even eat. [demonstration]
The Third America has to decide: do I pay my rent or do I buy food. That is the America they don't show you on TV. And that America wept when they bombed you. [demonstration]
Because of you, people without any money and without any power all over the world can stand up. While Mr. Djindjic crawls, [interruption: demonstration in crowd] or should I say slithers, [demonstration in crowd] to his employers, who are in the White House, you and this Party and the others who resist, and Mr. Milosevic who has not fled, who has shown what it means to have dignity, you have shown all of us that we can take these monsters on. And we *will* win. [demonstration: slo-bo, slo-bo, slo-bo]
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