13 January, 2023. At 2 pm today, in a march starting from the main square in Cluj, you might have heard chanting in Romanian and English.
In English, they said, “Free, free Palestine.”
In Romanian, it was, “România nu uita, gaza e și vină ta.”
But is “Gaza” really Romania’s fault? They claim that if there is a genocide, and you are silent, then you are complicit. One speaker, who claimed to have a Palestinian father and a French mother, spoke of how in World War II, in Romania, the “Jews, Roma and Queers” were killed, and the people were allegedly “silent.” There was no other mention of the other victims of the Second World War, including communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Serbs, and other political, ethnic, and religious minorities who suffered. Nor was there a mention of why the Roma came to Europe in the first place if they were treated well anywhere in the Middle East. (Not that all this was in the scope of the protest in general, but it is within the scope of “silence is complicity.”)
And, when they spoke, saying silence is complicity, there were no mentions of the other victims in the world today, the Kurds, the Christians in Pakistan and other Asian countries, the Yezudi, the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan, the ethnic Chinese minority who have been attacked quite recently in Malaysia, the Copts in Egypt, and so on.
Not that they needed to mention all these, but the argument that silence is complicity is ridiculous in a world where there are far too many crimes being committed for any person to have time to condemn them all.
What facts were presented? We heard of the Nakba, how when over 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes in the creation of Israel. This was followed by calling Israel a “colonialist settler” state. While that does not directly deny the right of Israel to exist, it implies that Israel is not a legitimate government. Serbia has not been called as much.
You could say that most of the Arab world is a colonial-settler state. Arabs were a small minority or completely absent in most of Roman Africa and even Roman Asia, yet today the southern half has an Arabic-speaking majority. It is perhaps not fair to call all the people of Palestine “Arabs,” but it is a far stretch to claim they are indigenous.
That said, there were a few stories given that do deserve attention. The speaker who spoke of the Nakba also mentioned her own family’s sufferings. If I understood correctly, one in one hundred were shot to terrify the rest. Among those killed were the speaker’s grandmother, who was walking with her daughter (I assume the speaker’s aunt). What happened to the little girl afterward was not mentioned, but the body of the grandmother was allegedly never found.
This does sound terrifying.
There was a lot of repetition. Banners said that over 10,000 Palestinian children were dead. We hear that over half of the victims of bombings are children. One talk kept on repeating the word “bombs,” like a rap or a poem, it was hard to ignore. Bombings of “ambulances, hospitals, homes, and schools.”
There were a few smokers. Most of the protestors appeared to be students, or at least student-age, although there were some small children and a few pensioners there as well. A few of the speakers spoke Romanian, but about half spoke in English.
I would estimate between two hundred and 700 participants. Nowhere near as many as during a recent rally to celebrate the anniversary of one of the major football teams, and insignificant compared to the many thousands who come out to celebrate the New Year or Romania Day (or attend any of the cultural events), but over twice as much as the accountants who were in front of the court of appeal to cancel debtor’s punishments a few weeks ago.
One of the speakers claimed to be a descendent of people who suffered in the Holocaust. he had an American accent, and mentioned by name a friend who was killed in the recent Hamas attack. (He didn’t call it the Hamas attack, instead he gave the date of the attack). He is a peace activist, who mentioned places like Syria, Yemen, and Sudan. I think his friend was the only victim who was named.
The protestors were generally orderly, despite some angry words. There was a police presence, perhaps a few dozen around monuments, guarding the route to prevent any possible altercation.
Let us break down the chant now. România is easy, that is Romania. The hat on the â in the middle means it is pronounced the same as the î with the hat. Okay, that is not so easy. It is almost like making an “i” sound with your tongue in the place of pronouncing an “r.”
“Nu uita,” is “don’t forget,” or word-for-word “no forget.” It is the second person, imperative, singular – like a mother telling her child not to forget his caciulă at school.
“Gaza” is a place, the same as in English. I guess it implies, what is happening in Gaza. “E” is an informal way of saying “is.”
“și” is normally translated as “and” but it can also be used in other contexts. “și… și…” could mean “both … and…” Here, it would be translated as “also.”
“Vina” means “fault.” “ta” is your. “și vina ta” would then be “is also your fault,” or “is your fault too.” Yes, in Romanian the order is more like, “fault your.” Remember, Yoda speaks backward because English is not his first language.
Would it mean also Romania’s fault like it is the fault of the Israeli government? Or, in the same way that Romania was blamed for atrocities in World War II? Neither accusation seems fair to me.
But what do you think, was it fair for the protestors to say, “România, nu uita, Gaza e și vina ta?”