Aug 4, 2014
On Saturday, July 26, Israelis organized the biggest demonstration in Tel Aviv against the war in Gaza since the bombing began. Jewish and Arab Israelis demonstrated together with banners exclaiming, “No more Deaths! Peace Now between Israel and Palestine!” Some even carried signs saying, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”
The anti-war movement in Israel does not yet have the depth that brought together tens of thousands of Israelis during the 1982 war with Lebanon, but it is growing. At each demo there are soldiers who refuse to play the role of permanent executioners, to which the Israeli leaders want to condemn them. The Israeli Communist Party, Gush Shalom, unionists, and members of Kibbutzim also demonstrated to show their support for peace.
Whole families came to express their anger about a “war that for two years has threatened our children just as it threatens Palestinian children.” Some signs read, “There is another way besides war”; “Liberate Gaza now – Let it Live”; “Stop the war and the Occupation.”
Some Israelis claim that nobody’s in favor of peace. But it is actually the Israeli leaders who don’t want to see an independent Palestinian state. That’s what Mrs. Ben Kfir says, from the organization “Parents for Peace,” whose daughter was killed by a suicide bomber from Hamas in 2003. She spoke out to Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying: “Don’t tell us that you make war in our names. We must now let it be known there is another voice in Israel than that of war, racism and hatred.”
Another participant said, “We must put an end to war.... What a terrible price the residents of southern Israel have paid, others in Israel, those in the Gaza Strip and now people in Jordan! Together Jews and Arabs can overcome this war, hatred, occupation and offer another road to life and hope.”
It took a good deal of determination to demonstrate right now, to demand the immediate cessation of the bombing. Using the pretext of rockets shot from Gaza into Israel, the authorities forbade the demonstration two hours before it was due to begin. The police tried to turn back cars coming from all over the country. Nonetheless, the demonstrators marched. But the police were much less aggressive with the hundreds of extreme-right Zionists who marched in a counter-demonstration and shouted insults at the demonstrators like, “Dirty reds, communists who sold out to the Arabs”!
The atmosphere of hysterical chauvinism, the pressure that the nation needs complete unity, and the racists of the extreme right could not discourage the demonstrators. They continued to protest war and fight for the recognition of Palestinian rights.
In Palestine, in Israel, the only way out is a politics that distinguishes the interests of the exploited from those of the exploiters. It’s that kind of class opposition that Netanyahu, Hamas and Fatah want to make disappear in the name of nationalism.