Saturday, July 26, 2014

7,000 protest against the war in Gaza in Tel Aviv on evening of July 26

Notice the photographs in the foreground. One of them is of Muhammad Abu Khdeir.
I think this is probably the only anti-war demonstration I would have been willing to attend, since it seems that it was genuinely anti-war and pro-peace, unlike many of those around the world. This is the report published in Haaretz: In Tel Aviv, thousands protest against the Gaza operation.

About 7,000 people attended the demonstration in Rabin Square this night. It was organized by Hadash, Combatants for Peace, and the Forum of Bereaved Parents - Israeli-Palestinian.

The sign with white writing on a red background reads: "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies," which is a Hadash slogan. The slogan on the piece of cardboard in the middle reads "A demonstration of hope." Another sign reads, "Enough of the siege!"
Protesters at the event called for an immediate end to hostilities and for the prompt resumption of peace talks. In one of the plaza's corners memorial candles were lit among pictures of fallen the fallen - both IDF soldiers and residents of Gaza. Two Philippine women who attended the protest laid a bouquet of flowers with a note that explained that the flowers were in memory of the IDF casualties. "We aren't a part of the demonstration," one of them explained. "We came to show our gratitude to Israel for its help with the casualties of the typhoon in the Philippines last year."

Among the people to give speeches at the event were Capt. Assaf Ya'akobovich (Res.) and Salim Tabib of Ramallah. The two are active in an organization devoted to finding a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They called for both sides to immediately put down their arms.

Especially moving was the speech given by Ben Kfir, a resident of Ashkelon, whose daughter Yael Kfir was murdered by a member of Hamas in 2003. "In Gaza they are digging concrete tunnels and we are erecting a separation fence," Kfir said. "How sad it is that we can't channel these efforts for peace." He also said "The infrastructure of terrorism is ignorance, poverty and despair. It is with these we must deal."

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), another of the speakers, called on the Israeli government to support a Palestinian unity government headed by Mahmoud Abbas. "So many heartbreaking moments happened this month," Khenin said. "A son crying over his father's grave, a mother weeping for her son, and many pictures of the wounded and dead. Behind each picture is a name, there's a family. We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this blood shed really helped to bring us to a better place?"

Prof. Eva Illouz also gave a speech at the demonstration. She commented on the right-wing incitement. "The left has 150 years of experience dealing with this incitement and it know how to combat it," she said.
The article also reports on a smaller right-wing demonstration that was protesting the anti-war demonstrators, with people shouting things like "death to leftists" (מוות לשמאלנים) and wishing that rockets from Gaza would kill them. In addition they sang a gruesome song: "Why is there no school in Gaza? Because there aren't any more children." (It rhymes in Hebrew).

The Hebrew article continued: "What was obvious this time was the organization of the leftist demonstrators in protective groups. They followed the right-wing activists who infiltrated the demonstration, pushed them out or hurried to call the police. Nonetheless, the threatening presence of violent groups in the area caused the police to request the organizers of the demonstration to shorten it in order to prevent confrontations - according to the organizers. In this case, the police said that the demonstration was ended because of the renewed rocket fire on Israel. At the end, the demonstrators left without any exceptional occurrences."

There's also a report in the Times of Israel about the demonstration: Protesters in Tel Aviv call for "end to war".

Another couple of photos from the demonstration, this time from