Pair unfurl political leanings

A couple state their views of Israeli and U.S. military force.

Published August 9, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - In other parts of the world, bombs are flying and people are dying - and a St. Petersburg couple just want people to realize that.

That was the motivation driving Chris Ernesto and Marianne Huber to hang an Israeli flag, modified with painted red tape to say "stop," on the porch of their Old Northeast home.

The couple are protesting Israel's use of military force against Lebanon and Palestine.

"We only put it up in the day," Huber said. "We think someone will take it down at night."

U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the United States' hands-off policy thus far in the Israel-Lebanon conflict, will leave an indelible mark on future foreign relations, they said.

"No other country in the world behaves this way," Ernesto said. "And we're supposed to be a beacon of freedom."

Neighborhood reactions to the flag have been virtually nonexistent, Ernesto said. But Margaret Joffe, who lives across the street, seemed a bit frustrated.

"It's their right to express it," she said. "That's all I'm going to say."

Ernesto cited attempts to overthrow Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, interference in the recent Mexican elections, and the ongoing trade embargo with Cuba as mounting evidence that U.S. foreign policy is calculated to keep the country on top of the global food chain.

"We don't think it's a stretch for U.S. policymakers to understand that this is part of a long-term plan," Ernesto said.

The couple, married for 18 years, moved to St. Petersburg from California in 2003 and are active members of St. Pete for Peace. They participate in organized protests, including the Saturday antiwar demonstrations at BayWalk.

On July 4, 2005, Ernesto hung an American flag in the front yard bearing "warmongers" on one side and "torturers" on the other.

"How could you want war?" Huber asked. "I just can't understand that."

Casey Cora can be reached at 727 580-1542 or at ccora@sptimes.com.