Saturday, January 03, 2009

Barak, Rabin

Left-wing demonstrators gathered tonight at Rabin Square to protest the Gaza War. There were also right-wing counter-demonstrators coming out to support the government.

Knesset members Dov Khenin (Hadash) and Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) were among the political figures who attended the rally.

"I came here to demonstrate along with thousands of citizens in Tel Aviv and all across the country, Jews and Arabs alike, who are calling to stop this war, which is a disaster. It hasn't solved the security problems in the south, and nothing good will come out of it," Khenin told Ynet.

"We came here to demand an end to the war, an agreement on a ceasefire, the opening of the border crossings and a prisoner exchange deal," he said. "This will be the outcome anyway, and no unnecessary blood should be spilled in the meantime."

Tibi added that "eventually there will be diplomatic negotiations on a truce, so why carry on with this phase of the war?"

The demonstrators chanted "Defense Minister Barak, how many children have you murdered today (ברק ברק כמה ילדים רצחת היום)?"

Twenty years ago, during the first intifada, I was living in Israel. I went there in the summer of 1987 to study Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and stayed until the summer of 1989. This was in the middle of my graduate program in religion at Harvard. My advisers had recommended that I go to Israel to improve my Hebrew and take classes that were unavailable to me at Harvard (in midrash, biblical interpretation, and Talmud).

The first intifada broke out in December, 1987. Almost immediately I became involved in the Israeli peace movement and went to many demonstrations sponsored by all kinds of groups - Peace Now, Oz v'Shalom (Orthodox peace group), Women in Black, the 21st Year (of the Occupation - so long ago!), etc. Yitzhak Rabin was defense minister in a coalition government led by Yitzhak Shamir (Likud). One of the orders he gave to Israeli soldiers faced by Palestinian demonstrators throwing stones at them was to "break their bones."

I remember going to a demonstration against Rabin somewhere in Jerusalem and chanting "Rabin, Rabin, Defense Minister, how many children have you killed today?" (It rhymes in Hebrew - רבין רבין שר הבטחון כמה ילדים חרגת היום). I guess the same slogan can be adapted to protest any Israeli defense minister.

No comments:

Post a Comment