Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The last Israeli warriors for peace

Despite the war fever in Israel, there is a tiny long-dedicated core of genuine peace activists. Much of the "mainstream" peace movement has disappeared. For example Peace Now. How an organization with such a name can turn into wholehearted supporters of this barbarity is beyond me, but there you have it. However on the "far left" are groups like Ta'ayush and Gush Shalom who have not wavered and have been protesting the war inside Israel from the beginning. They are derided in Israel as nut cases and traitors, but Uri Avnery the leader of Gush Shalom has often been ahead of his time having been one of the first Israelis to meet openly with Yasser Arafat at the height of the siege of Beirut in 1982. Over a decade later he was more than vindicated as the Israelis entered into negotiations with Arafat and the PLO. He's an interesting character himself having fought in the 1948 war and then turning to journalism and peace activism (read more about his life here

Anyhow, this was the Gush Shalom response to the Qana Massacre:

"THE KANA MASSACRE -- A WAR CRIME!" Immediately after the news about the Kana Massacre became known today (July 30), spontaneous protest demonstrations started near the Ministry of Defense compound in Tel-Aviv. In the evening, a larger demonstration was held. In spite of the fact that there was hardly any prior notice, more then 200 demonstrators gathered, including activists of Gush Shalom, Hadash, Anarchists Against Walls, Ta'ayush and other organizations. This time, a group of Meretz member, who rebelled against their party leadership, was also present. They included former Meretz MKs Ya'el Dayan and Naomi Hazan. Also present were Hadash MK Dov Hinin and former MK Tamar Gojansky. Conspicuous by its absence was Peace Now. The director of this organization, which has ceased to exist as an active peace movement years ago, appears now in the Media as one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the war. When a journalist wrote by mistake that Peace Now had taken part in a demonstration, the director denied it vigorously. Meretz leaders Yossi Beilin, Haim Oron and the others, except MK Zahava Galon, also publicly supported the war. "Peretz, Peretz, don't worry / Bush will meet you at The Hague!" shouted the demonstrators through their megaphones, which could be clearly heard in the ministry compound. The Hague, of course, is the seat of the International Criminal Court. "Peretz, you have promised education and pensions / all you gave us is tanks and dead bodies!" - "Children want to live / both in Beirut and in Haifa!" - "Killing Children is a war crime!" - "Labor in government / brings only war!" - "Olmert's agreement with Bush: / War and occupation!" (All these rhyme in Hebrew.) "It is rank hypocrisy to assert that the Kana inhabitants have been warned to leave their homes," former MK Uri Avnery said. "From the first day of the war, our army has bombed the roads and whole families were killed on the way. They have concluded that it is safer to stay in a shelter at home than to move on the roads." Avnery added that a commander who bombs and shells an inhabited area must know such disasters are bound to happen." "The criminal returns to the scene of the crime," commented Gush Shalom spokesman Adam Keller, referring to the massacre that happened in Kana in 1996, when Shimon Peres started a war in Lebanon. "That massacre compelled Peres to break off his war. The conclusion is that we must stop this war at once, before it is too late." Opposite, a small counter-demonstration took place. Usually, the fascists of the Kahane group play this role, but this time they were Labor Party members, who support the war completely. In the course of the demonstration, a special unit of the riot police appeared and for a moment it seemed that they were about to attack the protesters, but they only drove them off the road. After two and a half weeks of suppressing every voice against the war, this demonstration was covered on TV and the radio. At the same time, demonstrations were held around the country, mostly by of Arab citizens. Click here to view pictures from the demo


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