Friday, October 9, 2015

To show that we care, that we do not give up

German translation
When listening to news broadcasts is painful and hearing the politicians and commentators is infuriating, one is waiting for the phone to ring and the voice to say: "Tomorrow we take to the streets, to sound our voice, the voice of protest! Come, get there, it's very important!" Yesterday afternoon, at last such a call came. Noa Levy told of the initiative taken by Hadash, to gather on Friday afternoon at King George Street. "The Women in Black are standing there every week, already for many years. But in the present situation it is not enough that they will be there. Many more people should be there to show that we care, that we do not give up, that we take a stand! ".

Time to prepare and send messages in Hebrew and English to activist lists and media list:

"The reality of ‘managing the conflict’ is now exploding in our faces. Moment by moment, the occupation becomes ever more violent and dangerous. This right-wing government is a grave danger to all who live here. We all, on both sides, pay the price – and it becomes ever higher, with every passing day. (…). There is only one way to end the escalation and break the cycle of violence and death: a political agreement/ Ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, side by side with the State of Israel in its internationally recognized 1967 borders."

In the middle of preparations, another phone call: "How dare you? How dare you put out an ad comparing the Palestinian Intifada with our liberation struggle against the British Mandate? Our underground groups hit only British soldiers, while they, your Palestinian friends, are killing us indiscriminately!" - "In the time of the Mandate there was no British civilian population here, there were only soldiers." - "It does not matter, they are vile murderers - and you support them!" - "And what would you say if the Palestinians were taking very great care not to harm Israeli civilians, but direct their fire only and solely at IDF soldiers?" - "What? You are calling for our soldiers to be murdered? You traitors! I don’t talk to traitors, I am going to call the police! "

The bus to the center of Tel Aviv took a long time through the traffic jams. On the floor of the bus was lying yesterday’s copy of "Yediot Ahronot". Each case of an Israeli being stabbed by a Palestinian got an entire page to itself (four in all). No mention of the hundreds of police invading the Shuafat Refugee Camp, and their confrontation with thousands of camp residents, ending with one Palestinian dead and many injured. (This event had made it into Haaretz, but nowhere else). One of the reports in Yedioth Ahronoth mentioned that following the stabbing attack in Petah Tikva on Wednesday, extreme right-wingers rushed to the spot, chanting "Death to the Arabs! " and "Burn down their village!". But the paper’s reporter also quoted the words of a Petah Tikva resident named Yehudit: "Oh God, what terrible things are happening here, and I'm afraid this is just the beginning. It is not correct to chant ‘Death to the Arabs!’. They, too, want to live, and we must find a compromise. But in the meantime, they have nothing to lose. I don’t know how we got into this situation, I am very scared. "

Already at the precise starting time announced, signs were crowding the intersection at the corner of King George and Ben Zion. A lot of red placards with "Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies" with here and there the colorful Gush Shalom round two flags signs, and "The Occupation is killing us all!" – a slogan from the days of the Second Intifada which had become all too relevant again. A gray-haired woman was holding a handwritten sign brought from home: "What will be the end?". The Women in Black, who stand here every week, continued to hold their normal signs – the black palm inscribed by "Down with the Occupation!".

A spirited young man took the loudspeaker and presided over the chanting of slogans: "No escalation – War is not our fashion!" / "No more death, no despair – push occupation off the stair!" / "The occupation is a disaster - only peace is the answer!" / "Right-wing in power – security nowhere!" / " "Right-wing in power – a solution nowhere!" / "Answer the right-wing hate – Israel and a Palestinian state!" / "No killing, enough bereavement - occupation must be finished!". The loudest chanting was reserved to the slogan inscribed on many of the signs: "Jews and Arabs - Refuse to be enemies! Refuse to be enemies! Refuse – to be – enemies!".

Three Knesset members arrived - Ayman Odeh, Dov Khenin and Abdallah Abu Marouf. One by one, they took up the loudspeaker and delivered short speeches. "These are days of fear and often of despair. Especially on such these, it is essential that a different voice will be heard. Endlessly we hear demagoguery, a demagoguery of hatred, a demagoguery of war. We remember that twenty years ago, there was a man who came out against such demagoguery, a man named Yitzhak Rabin . We know what happened to Rabin, here in the city of Tel Aviv - and we will continue the struggle! Often it seems like a voice crying in the wilderness, but the silent majority on both sides wants a future of peace. We say it here, loud and clear. We say yes to negotiations, yes to sincere, real negotiations, negotiations leading to an end to the occupation and to a Palestinian state alongside Israel - certainly by Israel’s side, not at Israel’s expense! We speak in two languages, Hebrew and Arabic, and in both we express a single political message. We are here, Jews and Arabs, and we do not want to be enemies! We want to live in peace, we want both our peoples to live in peace! We will not surrender to the logic of killing and death, fear and hatred. There is another way! There can be new hope to mothers and fathers who panic every time a child leaves home, new hope to young people in the refugee camps and on the streets of Tel Aviv. We can free both our peoples of the occupation, bring peace and justice to everybody."

"There were a lot less hostile responses than I feared, and quite a few favorable comments of passers-by. The situation is just a little bit less terrible than it appears when you sit alone in front of the screen," said a veteran woman activist. With participants dispersing, an organizer called on the loudspeaker: "Tomorrow there is a countrywide demonstration in Nazareth. There will be transportation from Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Anyone who can, please come there, too. And everybody, see you here next time!"

Back home, the computer screen gave updates of the latest crop of news items: "Five or six Gazans killed and 35 wounded by IDF gunfire when hundreds of Palestinians marched towards the border fence, in solidarity with West Bank residents / At Hebron, Bethlehem and Beit El clashes broke out, described by Palestinians as the worst since the outbreak of the riots, 118 injured / Stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and Kiryat Arba, two slightly injured / MKs accuse that Afula stabber was shot at close range, probably from several weapons, while she stood motionless and presented no threat / a revenge attack: three Palestinians and a Bedouin were stabbed in Dimona, one of the victims ran through the streets with the bloody knife stuck in his back / The Jewish terrorist has a psychiatric history, explained the stabbing of four by saying that "All Arabs are terrorists" / Commentary: "We know how it started - nobody knows how it will end" / Clashes break out at Arab towns in Israel...

There is also a message about the demonstration scheduled by Meretz for tomorrow night, in front of the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem:

"Another violent attack and yet another one, every part of the country is touched by the flames, but instead of shouldering the responsibility the right-wing government whines and blames the whole world - except themselves. For six years, the right-wing government clings to power without offering any hope, vision or action plan to the citizens of Israel. For six years, the only things which Netanyahu and his ministers have to offer are settlements, annexation, incitement and brute force. Can anybody pretend to be surprised that the conflict – which they insist on managing rather than solving – is now blowing up in all our faces?

On Saturday night at 20:00 we will gather in front of the Prime Minister's Residence in the wounded and sorely aching city of Jerusalem. Near the residence of the PM who had brought us into this impasse. We will gather to say that we don’t accept the continuation of the bloodletting, that is time to end the cycle of killing, that we are fed up with violence and incitement. We have no interest in revenge, knowing that an Eye of an Eye will only get us all blinded. The only way to stop moving from one war to the next and to live securely in this country is through hope and a persistent striving for peace. "

Transportation will leave from Tel Aviv at 18:30. Hurry to register - space is limited.

The horror continues. But at least we have started struggling against it.