[Editorial note: We are pleased to publish these periodic reports, “LivefromPalestine” ~HC]
If you only get your news from the most established media networks of the “free world”, you may well have missed it.
About 1,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Saturday night against the blockade on Gaza on the one-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead. What was even more gutsy is that the protesters demanded an investigation of war crimes committed, that all war criminals be brought to justice, and the occupation be ended in its entirety.
Here was one sign that caught my eye. It reads “IDF: The Most Moral Terrorist Organization in the World.”
My Israeli friend Slava and I arrived late, so we missed the gathering at Yitzhak Rabin Square. “We’ll find them,” he said looking up at the sky. “We’ll just follow that police helicopter and where its pointing the light.” I looked up to see a helicopter hovering above diagonally streaming down a shaft of light. He was right–following the nearest hovering helicopter turns out to be an excellent way to find a protest in Israel.
Protesters carried signs showing crude drawings of tanks approaching a blood soaked Gaza demanding “Break the Siege.” With drummers keeping the beat and the electric pulse of a didgeridoo palpable, the crowds chanted “Gaza, Gaza don’t despair, we will end the occupation yet!” (note: it rhymes and sounds catchy in Hebrew.)
Since the question must be asked around this part of the world–no, most of the participants were not ‘Arabs’, that is, ethnic Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. The great majority were Jewish Israelis marching with a substantial Arab minority. Jews and Arabs marched together and the presentations were in both Hebrew and Arabic.
Uri Avnery was among the many speakers featured at the gathering at the end of the march in Museum Plaza. The prominent peace activist and Hebrew University professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan also spoke. Her father served as the military commander of Gaza following the Suez Crisis in 1956. Nurit’s own daughter was killed in a suicide bombing spurring her to become deeply involved with the peace movement in Israel. She captured world attention for her speech in 2001 about the occupation as a root cause of own daughter’s death:
“my little girl was murdered because she was an Israeli by a young man who was humiliated, oppressed, and desperate to the point of suicide and murder and inhumanity, just because he was a Palestinian.”
Mondoweiss noted the presence of the prominent Israeli journalist Gideon Levy and Shlomo Sands, the author of The Invention of the Jewish People.
All this fanfare–yet not a word of the protest in Israel’s largest city is mentioned in the NYT, WashPo, or the English edition of Ha’aretz. TheJerusalem Post briefly admitted the protest happened but misrepresented its attenders saying that:
“Notably missing from the protest were members of Meretz and the powerful left-wing lobby Peace Now”.
This may have some truth to it, but its a terribly misleading statement when the four sentence article omitted the fact that Mossi Raz did attend the march. Mossi Raz is both the former secretary-general of Peace Now and a former Knesset member who served for Meretz from 2000-2003.
Thankfully, Al Jazeera and AFP fully covered the story showing the world what actually happened last night–a thousand some passionate, articulate Israelis were bravely waking up the streets of Tel Aviv to the horrors of the blockade of Gaza, the occupation of Palestine, and the dire urgency for accountability in Israel.