molly hankwitz on 28 Oct 2000 05:03:45 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] more light

To share this first hand account of demonstration held in TelAviv
recently.  sent it to me on behalf of Rayna and my interest
in subject...molly

I just returned from the antiwar demonstration in Tel-Aviv. Despite the
short organizing time and general pessimism, there were hundreds of people
there - my guess is at least 500, maybe 700. Simultaneously, there was a
demo held in Haifa. The mood was very dark. In private conversations, people
spoke about being sad, even in mourning, and ashamed. Everyone was alert,
expecting attacks by right-wingers. There was not a huge amount of police,
though. Wonder how they knew that everything would be calm?  Saw a lot of
old friends - some who had been demonstrating all week, many others whom I
haven't seen in years. There were some young people, but not
nearly as many as came to the anti-globalization demo. The Arab-Jewish
community Neve Shalom had a very impressive presence and also had
printed stickers "no to occupation". Their chairperson, Anwar Daoud, was one
of the speakers.

One thing this latest crisis has done, is democratize the Israeli left
(of>course, the fact that the Communist Party no longer has a monopoly over
protest actions also helps). Many people brought their own signs and
although there was a lot of discussion going on, even heated, there were no
demands to take down signs and no violence. There were slogans calling for
the Right of Return, against apartheid, against settlements, Stop the
War, against Barak and the Labor government, end the bloodshed, yes to
peace, peace or hell (it rhymes in Hebrew).Of the speakers, Yael Dayan (Labor)
was both applauded and booed. She said that we were few, just as we were when
we opposed the Lebanon War, which >made some people laugh outright, never
remembering seeing her at any demo in 1982. At one point she became angry
at the heckling and said, that she was there to protest the war and the
policy, but that there was no one but Barak to lead the country. "Do you
have anyone else?"
she asked, and many voices shouted back: Yes!
A letter was read from soldier Noam Khuzar, who is imprisoned for
refusing to serve in the territories. MK Issam Makhoul made a powerful
speech, outlining Israeli apartheid and calling for a Jewish-Arab struggle
based on full equality and respect. He placed the blame for the killings
squarely with the Barak government and was loudly applauded. A letter
was also read from MK Azmi Bishara who was unable to attend. He won applause
as soon as his name was mentioned, as a show of solidarity after his home
was targetted in the Yom Kippur pogrom in Nazareth.
The best speaker was the guy from Hakeshet Hamizrachit (the Oriental
Rainbow), the organization of Jews from Arab countries - sorry, can't
remember his name. He blasted everyone from the government, the
political parties and the media and was applauded after almost every
sentence. He noted five points on which we were clear and unequivocal, and
as he spelled out each point, the crowd applauded and shouted support:

> >1) There is no such thing as a "Jewish and democratic state".
> >2) The Palestinian citizens in Israel are a national - not only ethnic -
> >ethnic minority.
> >3) Oslo is dead. Real peace means peace with an independent Palestinian
> >state, not by dictate and under pressure.
> >4) Peace includes withdrawal from all occupied territories, including
East Jerusalem, and dismantling all settlements; or a binational state.
> >5) There is either peace and a process towards just peace, or war.

I hope I've remembered correctly all of these points - I'm sure that he
said all of the above, but there might have been more! After so much
wishy-washy liberalism, this kind of straight talk was very refreshing.
After the speeches were over about half of the demo walked to the
Defense Ministry, a few blocks away, to demonstrate there.
There was a lot of talk about organizing intervention teams/non-violence
patrols and some ideas are being discussed. The general concept is
accepted, that in addition to our regular political work, there is need
for some direct action and intervention - by making a form of neutral
presence, being "human shields", providing on-the-spot first aid or
other actions that might reduce the level of violence and protect people.
(Last week in Jerusalem the AIC operated a "human rights patrol", cars and
vans with very visible signs, patroling different parts of the city, on the
lookout for any violence. Nothing happened, but it was a good experience
and the people who did it can share what they learned).
The interst in this type of activity seems to be both a reaction to the
factual situation and to the emotional/moral crisis that we are
experiencing. For example, I overheard a lot of arguments this evening
about the lynching in Ramallah: one person would say something like
"this is a totally new stage, it was terrible, what an awful crime, the
desperation has pushed the Palestinians over the brink" and another
would reply "Well, you could see that because there were cameras there, but
what about the soldiers who beat people to death in the intifada? You would
have seen the same thing, but then there weren't any witnesses. What do
you expect of the Palestinians, if that was how we treated them? Did you
see those undercover cops and what they did yesterday?" The fear of many
people, of losing our humanity, of coming to accept this kind of violence on
both sides as a norm, of forgetting that all blood is red, is leading
us to seek forms of protest and intervention that we haven't previously
tried.Well, the summit is set for Monday. Clashes are continuing as the
Palestinians continue to bury their dead. The brother of one of the
Israeli soldiers who were killed in Ramallah spoke at his funeral yesterday
and described the horrible state of his brother's body, which he insisted on
seeing although the staff at the hospital urged him not to
do it. He said a lot of things that had racist tones, but he also made a
plea to everyone at the funeral, not to take revenge, not to act violently,
not to commit crimes like that in which his brother died. In these times,
that's a lot.

Rayna Moss


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