Brian Molko and his fellow band members at Placebo gave a great show in Israel. And today, The Editors are playing in town. The Editors were initially had a minor role in backing theThe Pixies, that cancelled in the last moment. I’m glad that The Editors came.
I attend lots of demonstrations in various issues, about two three every month. Although it’s fun meeting the (same) friends at these protests, I feel that we aren’t changing almost anything.
My friends say that going to demonstrations has become a hobby of mine. It’s my preferred pass time on Saturday evenings, when most of these protests take place.
During this summer, I’ve been to a nice bunch of demonstrations: against the biometric law, against hatred of homosexuals, and the recurring theme was a struggle against the deportation of foreign workers and their children from Israel.
Most of these protests draw a crowd of no more than 300 people. When I show up and draw a few friends to these events, I feel that I make a difference in the number of attendants.
But do I really make a difference? Probably not. A small group of people who care can do little to change. Most Israelis are tired of hard struggles, and prefer news as entertainment.
TV “reality” stars mean more than having the fifth of the population under the poverty line. “Sensational” stories like the Dudu Topaz story, or the Swedish scandal take over the media for many days. These stories have nothing do with our lives, nothing relevant to other people living here, which have real problems.
I guess I should do the same – concentrate solely on my personal life, which is not that shabby. As a Jew of European descent, a man, and a heterosexual, I belong to Israel’s elite. My life is easier “by design”.
Turning a blind eye to what’s going looks like the right choice.
Benjamin Netanyahu was appointed, as expected, to form the new government. His government will probably include the racist “Israel Beytenu” party, of the scary Avigdor Lieberman. This makes many Israelis sick and horrified. I’m already over it.
The fear of this reality drove many left wingers to vote for FM Tzipi Livni, thinking that if her Kadima party gets more seats than Netanyahu’s Likud party, then Netanyahu won’t be Prime Minister again.
Well, Kadima got more seats, only to teach those people a lesson in Israel’s parliamentary system: the head of the biggest party isn’t automatically the PM – it depends on coalition. And Netanyahu’s right wing \ religious bloc won the elections.
Anyway, he may form many different coalitions, but there’s a good chance that the racist Lieberman will have a strong position in the government, having won the third place in the elections.
This specifically scares Israeli Arabs. Lieberman wants to deny their citizenship if they don’t show loyalty to the country. Maybe they’ll take mine if I’m not loyal enough with this criticism…
I don’t believe that this fascist law will pass, but I must be prepared:
Picture made in the Obamicon.me site.
Anyway, to my main point: we aren’t alone in the world, and the world has changed. We are dependant on our main, and sometimes only ally: the US. And there’s a new guy in office there. Obama’s first month office proved that he came to work, on all fronts, and he isn’t wasting any time.
We will have to comply, at least partially, with the new administration’s policies, and they will be different from Mr. Bush. I’m sure that Obama’s will will force my country to a more moderate policy, and not an extreme right wing one.
Also in the economic front, Netanyahu is a great admirer of the neo cons, and of Margaret Thatcher. As Minister of Treasury, he already brought upon us extreme capitalistic reforms, deregulation and suffering.
But also here, the world has changed. Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 5 months ago, the world began re-regulating instead of de-regulating. In a global world, he cannot push through his brutal capitalism. He’ll have to let go.
So, I’m not in despair of the upcoming Israeli government. Yihye Tov!
I’ve decided to vote this time for the Hadash party. It is a Jewish-Arab post-communist party Hadash. Voting for radical left isn’t easy for me. It’s new for me. (Hadash means new in Hebrew).
It took me quite a long time to reach this decision. I’d rather vote for a big party, a party that can be the ruling party. I’ve voted for the Labor Party in 96, 99, and in the recent elections in 2006. I cast my vote for Meretz, mild left part in 2003, and voted for Labor’s Ehud Barak in the direct elections in 2001.
But this time, I prefer to cast my vote for a 100% opposition party. I beleive that their MKs did an excellent job, and I trust them to continue the good work.
I was deliberating if to vote for the Green Movement Meimad party, which is a socialist green party, that also focuses on education. I decided not to vote for them, mostly because they avoid talking about the Israeli Arab conflict. They focus only on internal affairs, and hid their opinions during the Gaza war.
Hadash stood up against the war, before it and during it. Their presence was seen in all the demonstrations. Only they saw how stupid and useless this war was.
In addition, these are days tense between Jews and Israeli Arabs. Avigdor Lieberman’s party suggests that citizenship should be revoked from Israeli Arabs if they don’t show loyalty for the country. These scary fascist ideas find many followers in the Israeli public, and it’s very alarming.
So, I’m voting for a party that is a partnership between Jews and Arabs.
So, I’m voting for an opposition party, and cleaning up my conscience.
The Israeli government declared a unilateral cease fire tonight. Just before the declarion, I’ve attended yet another anti war demonstration.
More pictures from the hopeful last anti war demonstration.
Contrary to the Peace Now protest, this time, it was back to the normal organizers: the radical left. Around 3000 people attended a demonstration that began on the seaside, and ended in a park in Jaffa. The demonstrators shouted different slogans. Some were the usual ones: Jews and Arabs refurse to be enemies, children want to live, stop the occupation, etc.
Other shouted slogans that called Ehud Barak a murderer, and “Enough with the country”. It was hard for me being in the same demonstration where such slogans are screamed. Again, I expected a unified message: Stop the War!
Well, hopefully it’s happening, and the unilateral cease fire will hold.
Why I’m against the Gaza war
Some readers have asked me to elaborate on why I’m against the war. In general, I think that this “Cast Lead” operation kills way too many civilians, causes lots of destruction, and isn’t a good practice of our right of self protection. We definitely have a right to protect our civilians.
I’m convinced that this terrible war isn’t the way to acheive it. And after three wees, this operation didn’t stop the Quassam rockets from landing in Israel.
There are additional reasons why I’m opposed to this war, and I can elaborate much more on the points I’ve stated above. It requires a separate post. I hope it’ll all be over, and I won’t need another post.
The anti war demonstration was supposed to be big: instead of having only radical left protesters, this one was organized by the Peace Now movement.
Peace now is a veteran left wing movement that has influence on the Israeli political scene for over 30 years. In the Lebanon War in 2006, the joining of Peace Now to the protests marked a change in the Israeli sentiment towards the war.
This time, Peace Now blew it. First of all, there weren’t many people: only about 1000 people came, despite the organization many volunteers and workers.
And the bigger problems were in the speeches: Yariv Opnheimer of Peace Now: instead of focusing on the main message of stopping the hostilities, he talked lengthy about how Peace Now is different from those non-Zionist / Red protesters. The focus was on what divided the few protesters, rather than on the simple call for ceasefire. He told them that there are other protests for them – very bad mistake.
Also Haim Orron (aka Jumes), head of the left of center Meretz party, made a bad speech. Although his rhetoric was better than Openheimer’s, the message to the Israeli government was: “Think twice before deepening the operation” – quite a weak statement from a party that wants to be a major factor in Israeli politics.
After this disappointing protest, I’m convinced that the Israeli public will stay supportive for the war.
The only thing that can stop the war is Obama’s inauguration in a week from now. With the Bush administration in its last days, there is no internal or external force that can now stop the fighting.
More pictures from Peace Now Gaza War Demonstration.
For the third time in a week, I came to protest against the ongoing war in Gaza. This time, the turnout was massive: there were about 10,000 people that came to protest against the war in Gaza, that is going on.
The rally was bothered by group of “counter protesters” – right wing activists that didn’t like this demonstration. Luckily, the police was scared that this event would turn violent, and there were lots of policeman that kept the two sides seperated.
The war has quite strong support among the Israeli public. But when the public is asked about the ground operation – the Israeli public is divided is divided 50-50.
Unfortunately, the ground operation began this evening, exactly in the time of the protest (and the counter protest): Lots of troops and tanks entered the northern Gaza strip. It’s all over the news.
Tens of thousands of Israeli reserve soldiers will be drafted very very soon. For Israelis, this is much more scary than the conflict was until tonight. Here’s a short video to get a feeling of the demonstration:
I believe that even a succsseful operation will leave casualties on our side, something that will turn around the Israeli public from support to unapproval of the Gaza war. Barak’s war games before the elections will not achieve his goal to become popular.
I know that you, my readers are tired of hearing of yet another protest, but apart from showing that there’s another opinion in Israel, going to protests and writing about in my blog are probably the most I can do to stop this useless bloodshed.
And I’ll keep going to protests, and I’ll keep on reporting about them.
And relating again to my readers, in the past few days I’ve received a huge amount of comments. I’m not used to it, and I can’t respond to all of them. I apologize. I was quoted in Ynet, and received lots of entries from Google that are related to the Gaza war. I can’t respond to all of them, and I’m glad that in some cases, the readers began a discourse amonsgt themselves.
More picture from the Big Anti Gaza War Demonstration.
Less than 24 hours after the demonstration I attended against the war - it broke out by a blitz by the Israeli Air Force. A counter attack of rockets fell on Israeli towns. It dominates the news worldwide.
So, 8 hours after the war broke out, also the voice of the minority was heard. I attended another demonstration, with the same type of crowd, but in much bigger numbers.
More than a thousand people marched from the Cinemateque to the gates of the “Kirya” – Israeli Defense Minstry in Tel Aviv. PM Olmert was visiting there at the same time and talking to reported about the operation.
The slogans were the same, and also the main speaker was the same guy – Dov Khenin. The message changed, since the war already was in action.
He called for an immedate cessation of hostilies.
Currently, the fighting is still going on, and only the radical left wing parties are against it. The Israeli left Meretz party currently supports it. They’ll probably change their mind in a few days, when they’ll understand that it leads to nowhere. They always wake up too late.
Anyway, for whoever is reading this overseas, I’m writing a second post about (almost) the same issue so soon, just to stress that there is also a different voice in the Israeli street, currently a very small minority.
More (bad quality, sorry) pictures from the second Anti Gaza War Demonstration.
The stakes are high in the Gaza strip. Black clouds of war loom over it. Not everybody is supportive of an invasion. Though I think it’s currently only a war of words, I stood with protesters this afternoon in an antiwar demonstration.
Like in the protests during the Lebanon war, the red colors dominated the scene. With the general elections coming in 6 weeks, there were signs that were directed to the elections.
The red Hadash party was behind this protest. Member of Knesset Dov Khenin was there, holding a sign, and then speaking in front of about 200 people that gathered.
He said there’s another solution to the sorry state of Quassam rockets on Sderot – not a military one. He called for a real “Tahadiya”, including a prisoner swap and resuming negotiations with Mahmuyd Abbas (Abu Mazen).
The slogans that were shouted over and over again throughout the protest were similar to the those during the Lebanon war: “In Gaza and in Sderot, children want to live” (literal translation from Hebrew) sounded exactly like “In Beirut and in the Krayot, children want to live”.
The difference is that this time it’s in the south and not in the north, and that this time I went to protest before the war breaks out, and after our army is in the mud.
Well, there are other differences as well, but that’s enough for now.
More pictures from this preliminary Anti Gaza War Demonstration
I hope to upload some videos later on this weekend. Happy Holidays!
Updates: As you all know, the war broke out, and I’ve been to more demonstrations:
Lots of Israeli politicians are speaking loudly about invading Gaza. This follows the expiration of the Tahadiya agreement between Israel and Hamas.
Well, since there are less than 50 days till the elections, these statements should be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone wants to be tough and strong before the elections on February 10th.
The government did NOT decide to invade Gaza in its meeting yesterday. They’re just making noise about it, to be seen as tough guys. I must say that this attitude had an effect on Hamas – they announced a 24 hour ceasefire – officially due to an Egyptian request.
The army is NOT ready for this invasion, as it wasn’t ready for the Lebanon war in 2006. I think that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense don’t trust the army after that was 2 years ago.
Right wing opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu is promising a stronger approach in his election campaign, and the leaders of Kadima are dragging along – bot only with their mouths…