by: David Harris-Gershon on August 16th, 2014 | 4 Comments »
In the largest protest of its kind in years, 10,000-15,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to call for a just peace with Palestinians and to protest Israel’s occupation and Gaza military operations.
The gathering is particularly significant given that, in previous anti-war rallies since the beginning of hostilities in Gaza, right-wing nationalists have attacked and sometimes beaten progressive protesters, leaving anti-war activists in Israel feeling increasingly threatened.
Tonight’s rally, sponsored by a number of left-wing groups in Israel, including the political party Meretz, overwhelmed those extremists who showed up with the volume of participants.
Organizers of tonight’s protest had the following message for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who many protesters addressed with chants of “Bibi, go home”:
“The next round of fighting can be prevented. No to the way of wars – we must have a political solution. After an agonizing month of war and death, in the face of mounting waves of incitement and hatred, which increasingly tear up the Israeli society, we stand up to demonstrate for peace and for democracy.”
Israel and Hamas in Gaza are currently in the midst of a five-day ceasefire as officials from both sides try to hammer out a long-term truce, which will likely only be secured with an end of the blockade in Gaza. It’s precisely this point which famed Israeli novelist David Grossman addressed, telling the crowd, “We won’t be able to breathe deeply in Israel as long as people in Gaza feel choked.”
The next few days will determine whether both Israel and Egypt will agree to lift their metaphorical boots from the throats of Palestinians in Gaza, and whether Israel’s government will recognize the unity agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the interest of moving forward with diplomatic efforts.
It’s a hope shared by some 10,000 Israelis who protested in Tel Aviv.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.