The peace movement, anti-occupation, anti-Gaza siege and rational Israelis do exist and they made their voices heard this weekend. If only more of them existed:
Thousands of demonstrators from across the left-wing of Israeli politics held a rally in Tel Aviv Saturday afternoon to protest 43 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and a government that organizers said is “drowning Israel”.
The protestors began their demonstration with a march from Rabin Square to the Tel Aviv museum, where speeches were held. The demonstration, which was held under the slogan “The Government is Drowning Us All”, was originally planned solely to protest the occupation, but following last Monday’s deadly raid on a Turkish boat attempting to break the Gaza blockade, the rally also addressed those upset about the government’s policies in regard to the Gaza Strip and the raid that left 9 foreign citizens dead and several IDF soldiers wounded.
Periodically during the course of the demonstration, dozens of right-wing counter protestors attempted to disrupt the proceedings, and at one point a smoke grenade was thrown at the rally. While the main rally was proceeding at the museum, counter protestors gathered in an adjacent patch of sidewalk and sang praise for the Israeli Navy SEALS and performed renditions of the Israeli national anthem.
As busloads of left-wing activists drove past at the end of the evening, counter protestors chanted “traitors”, “terror supporters”, and “go to Gaza” behind a wall of border patrolmen and YASSAM riot police.
Adam Keller a spokesman for Gush Shalom, one of the organizers of the event, told the Jerusalem Post that the demonstration “was an even bigger success than he expected” and said he believes the last week’s events increased the number of participants.
“Many people didn’t agree about to what level they oppose this government, but they feel suffocated by it, and feel that it is antagonizing the entire world.”
Keller’s sentiments were shared by Peace Now Head Yariv Oppenheimer who said that the demonstration was much larger than he expected and that it showed that “people are opposed to this government that is driving us towards international isolation.”
Oppenheimer added that he hopes the larger-than-expected rally leads to a new wave of opposition to the government, and praised what he said was a lack of anti-IDF slogans, placards, or sentiments at the rally.