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Thousands of Israelis protest against the war in Gaza

January 7, 2009

The world and Israeli media have been ignoring the Israeli protests against the war
in Gaza. This is a short report by SocialTV, an independent news source in Israel,
documenting over 10,000 Israelis in Tel-Aviv protesting against the war in Gaza on Jan 3rd, 2009.

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7 comments on “Thousands of Israelis protest against the war in Gaza”

I love this video – awesome to see some people I know in there, and fascinating to observe the mood and tenor of the demonstrators – but I found it also kind of sad and pathetic.
It seems to me that all these people chanting “dai la kibush” (End the Occupation) rather misses the point. They’re all just chanting the tired old slogans from the peace marches of the 1980s, as if what is happening now is not of an entirely different level. As if what is required is not now quite a different kind of analysis. I don’t think any decent, honest person can in good conscience continue to identify the problem as “the occupation” when at this point it is abundantly clear that the problem is zionism and the Israeli colonial project itself. All this shouting about the occupation seems only to highlight the hypocrisy of so many of those speaking in the video, like Uri Avnery, who rejects international law in favor of zionist racial anxiety, and insists that “peace” requires that Palestinians be denied their inalienable rights. Palestinians will have to gnaw on the old bone of “rights in principle,” but not their actual rights, because Israel will never allow any of them to return, he explains, and accepting that immovable fact of Jewish racial hysteria is “peace.” I can’t help but see in this video a perfectly clear illumination of how utterly inadequate this protest is, and the thinking ebhind it, and hence how utterly doomed Israel is.
Finally, the editor above talks about how the world has “been ignoring the Israeli protests against the war.” Israeli protests this week have been shamefully small, even for a country whose left has always been microscopic, and this can not be explained away by the very real and disturbing restrictions which the Israeli government has placed on protest of any kind. Before the latest massacre began, the main left party – Meretz – actually issued a statement DEMANDING military action against Gaza. Over the last week many MILLIONS of people around the world have demonstrated – there have been massive demonstrations, some of them quite rowdy – in every major city in the world. The fact that these demonstrations all over the world have been largely unreported is a real failure of the media. The fact that Israeli demonstrations have been largely unreported strikes me as quite natural, given how tiny and tepid they are. The real news story is not this pathetic trickle of uninspired cookie-cutter protest, or the increasingly desperate insistence that some miniscule subset of zionism calls for a slightly less violently racist version of this violent racist project, but Israel’s overwhelming public endorsement of mass slaughter as either desirable (the right) or an unpleasant but inevitable necessity (the “left”). We won’t see large Israeli protests until, as Uri Avnery noted, Israeli soldiers start to get slaughtered in Gaza in some quantity.
I have found the various strategies the Israeli government has been using to prevent protest to be far more interesting than any of the actual protests themselves.
All that said, thanks very much for sharing this great video and for all the important work your collective does.

“Israeli protests this week have been shamefully small, even for a country whose left has always been microscopic,”
There were 15,000 people in last week’s protest.
small?
really?
maybe you should have been there instead of confusing yourself with terms such as ‘occupatin’, ‘zionism’ and ‘colonialism.

You found them pathetic?
It truly boggles my mind how someone’s call to stop the killing, be it three people twenty or five thousand can seem pathetic. Were they suppose to set the town on fire? Throw rocks? would that be not pathetic? perhaps get arrested by the police? Many did. Maybe you can’t quite grasp the meaning of what war is when it is not an American war on remote control.
People are protesting here because they are fighting for their lives as well as their neighbors’ because they know that killing only ensues more killing and they dread the inhalation of their existence, not as a concept, but their lives. They are not protesting because it is cool to object the war or because they want your appreciation or approval, but because they absolutely terrified at what is being done in their name. They do not, at time of war while hundreds of people are being killed, have the luxury to contemplate terminology and consider whether “End the Occupation” is a hip enough slogan to satisfy everyone’s ideology. They simply want people to stop dying and suffer. Not a noble enough a cause?
Mind you, the group of people in the movie screaming “Stop the Occupation” were Arabs, thousands of Arabs who marched together with the Jews. Maybe they just don’ t know what they really want, maybe they haven’t read enough Edward Said.
As to “the occupation”, Hamas agrees that this is the problem as well, but maybe they too don’t know that it is “the Israeli colonial project itself” which is the actual problem. And in that regard, EVERY country in the world is a colonial project.
The Arab League, in a 2002 summit, established a peace initiative in which it proposed that Israel will withdrawal fully from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, for peace, but maybe they as well don’t know that “occupation”, or, occupation, as I like to call it, is not really the problem.
You say that the protests in Israel are incredibly small. 1 million people participated in the biggest US protest against the war in Iraq which took place in New York in 2003, 1 million people is 0.3 percent of US population. In Israel last Saturday, 15,000 came to protest, 0.25 percent of Israel population. Not such a huge different.
I don’t know what your vendetta on Uri Avneri is but he is an 85 year old man that has attended every protest with a pro-Palestinian cause, he was stabbed for his pro-Palestinian agenda by an assassin., he was accused of being a traitor because at 1982 he crossed to Lebanon and met with Yassir Arafat.
As for the rest of the speakers, who are you to judge them as hypocrites? And their shouting against the occupation highlights it? Have you spoken to their psychoanalyst and she explained to you that they pretend to want peace and be against the occupation but they are actually not?
“I can’t help but see in this video … how utterly doomed Israel is.”
Unfortunately I have to agree with you hear. It is going to be doomed until the remainder of Israelis realize that the only way is to stop the occupation, and act on the Arab League proposal for peace.
You are very demagogic you know, you say that millions of people around the world have demonstrated and in Israel only 15,000, but Israel is a country, and as such it is part of the world. Those 15,000 are part of the millions that have demonstrated around the world.

I describe these demonstrations as small only by comparison to past demonstrations within Israel itself. As Uri has pointed out many times over the years, Israelis can and do come out in much larger numbers to protest – 100,000 to 150,000 is a large and meaningful protest by Israeli standards, by comparison to the negligable protests we have seen in resposne to the latest massacre – but historically they only do so in response to the loss of Jewish life among soldiers.
I have no vendetta against Uri Avnery – he’s been a truly indefatigable feature of the Zionist left for longer than I’ve been alive, and as such may understand better than me why it is necessary to exempt Jews from international law, and why it is necessary and desirable to exclude their non-Jewish victims from claiming rights which are supposed to be inalienable. I really have a very hard time seeing how that is anything other than dirty old racism, no matter how prettily its packaged amidst all this talk of painful sacrifices and pragmatism. Uri is among the best that Israel has to offer, and when you look at what he proposes you see with some clarity just how inextricably bound zionism and israelis are to maintaining Jewish supremacism. I don’t believe maintaining Jewish supremacism is a goal I can support, and I don’t believe it is a goal any leftist can support, and I don’t believe it is a goal any decent person can support, and this is not because Uri’s a bad guy – on the contrary, I have publicized his writings and views for many years and am well aware of the persecution he has faced for his brave work – but because Zionism itself is not a defensible project, and never was. Zionism is not compatible with any struggle which considers itself to be dedicated to anti-racism and anti-colonialism.
We can no longer pretend that the issue at hand is Israel’s various criminal occupations and annexations. The problem is Zionism, and most of these demonstrators march not to demand an end to zionism, but merely to call for a kinder, gentler Jewish supremacism, one which is willing to make some sacrifices in order to consolidate and maintain a Jewish state with absolute Jewish demographic supremacy.
“Peace” is not ending the occupation, sealing the borders, and permanently locking out all the victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing, who are now scattered, along with millions of their children, throughout the neighboring states of the region, many of them still living in truly horrible conditions. Given that Israel’s pre-massacre “status quo” in Gaza plauibly meets the definition of genocide, watching all these people blandly droning on about ending the occupation seems almost terrifyingly inappropriate and insufficient – in quite the same way that a jolly candlelit round of “all we are saying is give peace a chance” in Times Square is a quite unimaginative and pathetic response to the ongong mass-murder my own country is perpetrating in Iraq and Afghanistan and in so many other places.
What is “peace” under such circumstances? As decent, rational people we should not be afraid to point out that calling for a less violent Jewish supremacist state is not peace nor is it justice. The problem is not the militarism of Israel. This endless addiction to regional conflict is integral to zionism itself. The problem is Zionism, and there can be no peace and no justice for anyone in the region as long as the world continues to pretend that Zionism is a legitimate, tolerable ideological position.
As Ilan Pappe writes: “The reason for the ongoing conflict between Israel/Palestine is not because Israel occupies parts of the West Bank and Gaza and is not willing to give them back. The reason we have the conflict is the Zionist ideology. This is where it starts and this is where it ends. As long as the vast majority of Jews in Israel subscribes to this ideology in its present interpretation, I’m afraid we will not see peace and reconciliation coming to this land.”

anomalous, i feel that your diatribe is becoming increasingly unproductive. it is very clear, based on that you have chosen not to respond to the issues brought up by karmel borgman and instead continued to express your opinions on what the REAL issue is. your criticism of who is chanting the tired old slogans, and how many people attend marches,and quoting pappe, does not prove anything except reveal your own biases and very limited views of the situation. the generalizations that you make- that you think all israelies are racists or zionists are extremely flawed.

It seems to me that I addressed all the major points made by Karmel. It seems to me that I did so carefully, substantively, thoughtfully, seriously, and politely – qualities noticibly absent in your snooty dismissal of me.
Your truly farcical mis-characterization of everything I said into “you thing [sic] all Israelies are racists” says a great deal about you and your priorities.
I think a lot can be assumed about your own worldview by looking at the fibs you have told about mine.
Rather than subject myself to further abuse, I will withdraw from this forum and allow you to insult me in my absence. Best of luck to you.
My final comment. When I mentioned the rather obvious fact that this recent demonstration of 15,000 is tiny by Israeli standards, I was subjected to quite a lot of indignant huffing and puffing from people who insisted I had no sense of proportion.
Let’s just compare, shall we:
300,000 Israelis say “No!” to Gaza Settler expulsion in largest ever Israeli protest (2005)
http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Politics/6273.htm
200,000 in Tel Aviv protest against Camp David peace accords (2001)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1349032/200000-in-Tel-Aviv-protest.html
Between 50,000 and 70,000 Israelis protest Lebanon Invasion (1982)
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9907E2DB133BF937A35754C0A964948260
Still, the Israeli “left” is doing much better in 2009 than they did in the February 2003 global demonstrations – the largest organized political demonstration in human history, with at least 30 MILLION people worldwide marching in over 600 cities around the globe. 3 million people marched in Spain alone. Israel’s contribution? 1,500.
Millions worldwide rally for peace (2003)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/feb/17/politics.uk

My apologies for interjecting again – I stumbled today across a 2007 article by an Israeli scholar I greatly admire, Oren Ben Dor. Im rereading it I was struck by how his comments made a much more succinct comment than my own. He writes:
“The truth is that there has virtually never been any real “left” in Israel. So-called left-wing Israelis share their right-wing compatriots’ support for the state ideology. Any moral condemnation which restricts its ambit to the post-1967 occupation is at best simplistic, at worst misleading. By focusing on “the occupation”, it serves to entrench the apartheid ideology which is central to the essence of the Israeli state.”
Oren Ben Dor, http://www.counterpunch.org/bendor06232007.html

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