Where are the Jews at the G-20?

Where are the Jews at the G-20?

OK, let’s be frank. The G-20 Summit this week in Pittsburgh is, as we say in newspapers, a dog and pony show.
But it’s a good dog and pony show.
It’s also a high-profile dog and pony show.
With more than 3,000 journalists from around the world converging on Pittsburgh for the summit (The Chronicle also is a credentialled news organization at the G-20), virtually anything that is said or done in connection with the three-day event stands a good chance of being covered.
That means our city, so often maligned for being a sooty, undesirable place to live (some reporters at the White House even chuckled when Pittsburgh was announced as the G-20 host city), will have a global forum to dispel that myth.
The same goes for many organizations and protesters who want to get their message across during the summit. People are demonstrating on behalf of AIDS victims, Darfuri refugees and Tibet; and against far-off wars, climate change and, quite possibly, Israel.
Some of the protestors are woefully misinformed, such as the ones demonstrating outside what used to be the headquarters of Mellon Bank, Downtown (someone should really tell them that the Bank of New York bought out Mellon), or very creative, such as the climate activists who hung a banner from the West End Bridge warning the ravages to the earth caused by CO2 gases, or the Flash Mob — dancers from Point Park University — who broke out in dance routines at points around Downtown to spread a message of peace.
One thing we haven’t seen much evidence of so far, either in official G-20 releases or in the preliminary news coverage, is the Jewish community. Where are the landsmen in this dog and pony show?
To be sure, Jews will be here in great numbers — on behalf of Darfur and Bread for the World, as expert commentators or lawyers protecting the first amendment rights of protestors, and as rabbis and cantors praying for a positive outcome to the summit.
But they likely will not be here for distinctly Jewish issues — namely, Israel.
The official list of groups with permission to protest doesn’t include one distinctly pro-Israel entity. That doesn’t mean there won’t be pro-Israel demonstrations, but if there are, they will likely be unofficial and under radar.
Why isn’t our community, locally and nationally, exploiting this chance to make our case to the world? We’re not saying we should protest Downtown with placards in hand, but why couldn’t we arrange some program and open it to the media. With 3,000 reporters in town, you’d think we could attract some of them.
Alas, when we contacted the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia, even they said they would not send an observer. The same went for the embassy in Washington.
Maybe a pro-Israel program this week would change nothing. But let’s make no mistake about it: This is a missed opportunity.