Israelis protest their government’s war


This is a video of Uri Avnery of the Gush Shalom peace movement of Israel.

From the peace movement Gush Shalom in Israel:

Just before we send this out we participated in a near spontaneous protest against the bloodbath on Gaza. At least a thousand activists got together after frantic use of email, phone and sms and held a march through the streets of Tel Aviv, harassed by mounted police (5 young activists got arrested), culminating in a rally outside the Defence Ministry gates. Olmert was holding there his warlike press conference.

For updates please look the coming days into our website.

Death toll in Gaza over 225: here.

Israeli air strikes kill 200 and leave 700 injured: here.

Death toll said to be over 280: here.

4 thoughts on “Israelis protest their government’s war

  1. Uri Avnery
    27.12.08

    A Congress of Peace Seekers

    ?Gush Shalom? has acceded to my wish to mark my 85th birthday not with a public celebration, as on my 80th, but with a brain-storming session devoted to the main issues concerning Israel.

    At the close of the event, I was given the floor. This is what I said:

    DEAR FRIENDS, DEAR PARTNERS,

    I have to admit that I am moved. Throughout my long life I have not been pampered with expressions of affection. I am much more used to manifestations of hate. Therefore, please excuse me if I am a bit embarrassed.

    PEOPLE ASK ME: How does it feel to be 85?

    Well, it is strange. After all, only yesterday I was 42, the youngest member of the Knesset. I don?t feel any older or wiser than I did then.

    85 is (in the old Hebrew way of numbering by letters) PH. PH can mean ?poh?, here – and yes, I am here and fully intend to remain here for a while to come ? first, because I enjoy it, and second, because I still have some things to finish.

    PH can also mean peh, mouth ? the mouth that enables me to voice my thoughts. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the thoughts that are occupying my mind today.

    What is special about 85-year-olds in Israel? First of all, we are the generation that founded the state. As such ? I feel ? we bear an additional responsibility for what is happening here. If our state is not what we imagined it should be ? it?s our duty to act to change it.

    AND HERE we face a strange paradox. We are partners in a historic success. And we are partners in a dismal failure.

    Perhaps only members of my generation can fully grasp the extend of our success in the transformation of the national consciousness.

    Many people ask me: where do I draw my optimism from when the situation becomes very bad, when good people are seized by depression and despair? At such moments I remind myself – and remind the people who listen to me ? where we started from. I bring this up again and again for those who did not live through it, and those who have forgotten:

    On the morrow of that war, the ?48 war, when some of us said that there exists a Palestinian people and that we must make peace with them, we were a tiny handful here and in the whole world. We were laughed at. There are no Palestinians, we were told. ?There is no such thing as a Palestinian people!? Golda Meir was still asserting much later.

    Is there anyone today who denies the existence of the Palestinian people?

    We argued that in order to achieve peace, a Palestinian state must come into being. They laughed at us. What? Why? There is Jordan. There is Egypt. There are 22 Arab states. That?s enough!

    Today it is a world-wide consensus ? two states for two peoples.

    We said that we must talk with the enemy, and the enemy was then the PLO. Four cabinet ministers demanded that I should be put on trial for high treason when I met with Yasser Arafat in Beirut during the siege. All four of them later met with Arafat, and the State of Israel signed official treaties with the PLO.

    True, the treaties were not implemented and did not lead to peace. But the mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, between Israel and the Palestinian people, became a fact. That was a revolution, and it cannot be reversed.

    Today we are saying: we must talk with Hamas. Hamas is an integral part of the Palestinian reality. And this idea, too, is gaining ground.

    What an uproar we caused when we said that Jerusalem must become the capital of the two states! Today almost everybody knows that this must happen, that it will happen.

    I have devoted 60 years of my life to this struggle, and it is still in full swing. But we have defeated the idea of a Greater Israel and put forward the alternative of the two states, which has carried conviction in Israel and throughout the world. So much so, that even those in the successive Israeli governments who strongly oppose the idea are now compelled to pretend to support it in order to attract votes.

    Think about this when you feel despair. Look at the whole picture, not only at the nearest small part of it.

    BUT AS BIG as our victory is our defeat.

    It is enough to look at these coming elections: the three big parties talk almost the same language, and not one of them puts forward a plan for peace.

    There are small parties which say good and honest things, but at this juncture we simply need more than that. What is lacking is a major political force that is ready to come to power in order to make peace.

    It is quite clear that the results of this coming election will be bad ? and the only question is whether they will be just bad, or very bad, or even worse.

    Why is this happening? There are many reasons, many pretexts. We criticize ? and rightly so – many things, the media, the education system, all our successive governments, the President of the United States, all the world.

    But I miss one criticism ? the criticism of ourselves.

    My father used to tell me: if the situation is bad, the first thing to do is to ask yourself if you are alright. So I am asking: Am I alright? Are we alright?

    Yes, we have voiced the right ideas. Our ideas have won. But what have we done to realize these ideas in practice, on the political battlefield?

    Politics is a matter of power. What have we done to create a progressive political force in Israel? How did it happen that the Left, the camp of peace and progress, has almost been eradicated from the political map? Why don?t we have political power, why don?t we have, for example, even one newspaper, radio or TV station? How did the Israeli Left lose, in the last generation, all its levers of power?

    We in the peace camp include many wonderful men and women, who confront the army every week in the fight against the Wall, who monitor the checkpoints, who refuse to serve in the occupation army, who fight against the occupation in dozens of ways. Many of us, of all ages, take part in these actions.

    But while we stand and protest, the settlers rush ahead. Another goat and another dunam (1000 square meters), another hill and another outpost. Sometimes I, too, have the feeling that the dogs bark and the caravan moves on ? and I am not content with being the dog. We chase the mosquitoes, but the swamp that produces the mosquitoes gets bigger and bigger.

    The swamp is political. Only a political force can drain it. In other words: only a force that can confront the ruling powers, influence the decisions of the government and the Knesset.

    That is a historic failure, and we bear the responsibility for it.

    IF I may be permitted to voice a birthday wish: the day after the elections I would like us to start thinking about the next elections.

    We have to think anew. From the ground up. Examine everything we have done up to now and find out where we went wrong.

    Why did we not succeed in convincing enough of the young, of the Oriental Jewish community, of the immigrants from Russia, of the Arab community in Israel, of the moderate religious sector ? that there is somebody to talk with, that it is possible to bring about change, that indeed ? we can! Why did we not succeed in touching the heart of the young generation that is disgusted by politics ? by the politics they know?

    What is needed is something completely new, a new act of creation. I would say: we must prepare the ground for an Israeli Obama.

    Obama means: to kindle hope where there was no hope before. To demand a change from the foundations up and believe that it is possible to bring about this change. To ignite the enthusiasm of masses of young people for a message that stirs the heart, a message of ending the occupation, of social justice, of caring for the planet. The longing for a different system ? secular, just, decent, seeking peace.

    The new message must address the mind and the heart, speak to the emotions and not only to the intellect. It must arouse again the idealism that is hiding in many a heart and dare not show its face.

    The great obstacle to such an explosion is despair. It is so much easier to despair. So much more comfortable. It doesn?t demand anything. It is easier to say that everything is lost. That they have stolen our state. But pessimism, as is well known, does not give birth to anything, it just leads to internal or external emigration.

    I refuse to be pessimistic. In my 85 years I have seen too many unexpected, surprising, amazing, things ? both good and bad ? for me not to believe in the unexpected. Obama was unexpected, and here it happened before our very eyes. The fall of the Berlin wall was unexpected, and nobody could even have imagined it a moment before it happened. Even the victory of the Greens in the recent municipal election in Tel-Aviv was like that.

    I WANT to propose the start of a new endeavor a day after the elections. I would like the best of the intellectuals and the peace activists, the social activists and the fighters for the environment to gather and start thinking together, in order to bring about the Israeli miracle.

    Perhaps there should be a grand congress of those who want change, a Sanhedrin of peace and human rights activists, a kind of alternative Knesset.

    From the heights of my 85 years I want to call all those to whom our future here is close to the heart, Jews and Arabs, and especially the young, to mobilize for a joint effort to prepare the ground for the big change, for the Other Israel, for a state where it will be fun to live, an Israel we can be proud of.

    This is not a game that can be played between existing organizations, but a completely new political creation, that will speak a new language, that will bring a new message.

    I believe that this will happen, if not tomorrow then the day after. I wish for myself, and for all of you present in this hall, that we shall see it with our own eyes, that we shall be partners, that we shall be able to say: we have succeeded, we are entrusting the state to good hands.

    AND NOW I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you, my friends, who have come to mark my birthday with me by exchanging views and debating the issues that are so important to all of us.

    Heartfelt thanks to the moderators and the speakers, who have bared the issues for us, to the organizers of this beautiful event, to the members of Gush Shalom who made it possible. Thanks to all of you, who have come from near and afar, and thanks for the good wishes you have showered on me.

    I couldn?t imagine a more enjoyable and exciting birthday. Thank you.

    permlink: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1230394628

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  2. http://www.freegaza.org/index.php?module=latest_news&id=8e9e8c9caaa5e92f6618d2db2f9edf30&offset=

    International Witnesses speak out from Gaza

    For Immediate Release Date : 12-27-2008
    For More Information, please visit http://www.FreeGaza.org, or see contact details below.

    (Besieged Gaza, Palestine – 27th December 2008) – Human Rights Defenders from Lebanon, the UK, Poland, Canada, Spain, Italy and Australia are present in Gaza and are witnessing and documenting the current Israeli attacks on Gaza.

    Due to Israel’s policy of denying access to international media, human rights defenders and aid agencies to the Occupied Gaza Strip, many of these Human Rights Defenders arrived in Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement’s boats. FREE GAZA boats have broken Israel’s siege of Gaza five times in the past four months.

    “At the time of the attacks I was on Omar Mukhtar street and witnessed a last rocket hit the street 150 meters away where crowds had already gathered to try to extract the dead bodies. Ambulances, trucks, cars – anything that can move is bringing injured to the hospitals. Hospitals have had to evacuate sick patients to make room for the injured. I have been told that there is not enough room in the morgues for the bodies and that there is a great lack of blood in the blood banks. I have just learned that among the civilians killed today was the mother of my good friends in Jabalya camp.”

    – Eva Bartlett (Canada) International Solidarity Movement

    “Israeli missles tore through a children’s playground and busy market in Diere Balah, we saw the aftermath – many were injured and some reportedly killed. Every Hospital in the Gaza strip is already overwhelmed with injured people and does not have the medicine or the capacity to treat them. Israel is committing crimes against humanity, it is violating international and human rights law, ignoring the United Nations and planning even bigger attacks. The world must act now and intensify the calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel; governments need to move beyond words of condemnation into an active and immediate restraint of Israel and a lifting of the siege of Gaza”

    – Ewa Jasiewicz (Polish and British) Free Gaza Movement

    “The morgue at the Shifa hospital has no more room for dead bodies, so bodies and body parts are strewn all over the hospital.”

    – Dr. Haidar Eid, (Palestinian, South African) Professor of Social and Cultural Studies, Al Aqsa University Gaza

    “The bombs began to fall just as the children were on the streets walking back from school. I went out onto the stairs and a terrified 5 year old girl ran sobbing into my arms.”

    – Sharon Lock (Australian) International Solidarity Movement

    “This is incredibly sad. This massacre is not going to bring security for the State of Israel or allow it to be part of the Middle East. Now calls of revenge are everywhere.”

    – Dr. Eyad Sarraj – President of the Gaza Community Mental Health Centre

    “As I speak they have just hit a building 200 metres away. There is smoke everywhere. This morning I went to the building close to where I live in Rafah that had been hit. Two bulldozers were immediately attempting to clear the rubble. They thought they had found all the bodies. As we arrived one more was found.”

    – Jenny Linnel (British) International Solidarity Movement

    “The home I am staying in is across from the preventive security compound. All the glass of the house shattered. The home has been severely damaged. Due to the siege there is no glass or building materials to repair this damage. One little boy in our house fainted. An eight year little boy was trembling on the ground for an hour. In front of our house we found the bodies of two little girls under a car, completely burnt. They were coming home from school. This is more than just collective punishment. We are being treated like laboratory animals. I have lived through the Israeli bombardment of Beirut and the Israel’s message is the same in Gaza as it was in Beirut- The killing of civilians. There was just another explosion outside!”

    – Natalie Abou Shakra (Lebanon) International Solidarity Movement

    —–

    Human Rights Defenders in Gaza (available for interviews):

    Dr. Eyad Sarraj (Arabic and English) +972 599400424

    Ewa Jasiewicz, Free Gaza Co-Coordinator in Gaza (Polish, Arabic, and

    English) – +972 59 8700497

    Dr. Haider Eid (English and Arabic) + 972 59 9441766

    Sharon Lock (English) +972 59 8826513

    Vittorio Arrigoni (Italian) +972 59 8378945

    Fida Qishta (English and Arabic) +972 599681669

    Jenny Linnel (English) +972 59 87653777

    Natalie Abou Shakra (Arabic and English) 0598336 328

    For more information on the Free Gaza Movement (FREE GAZA) or the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) contact in the West Bank:

    Adam Taylor (ISM) – 972 59 8503948

    Lubna Masarwa (FREE GAZA) – 972 50 5633044

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  3. ISRAEL: END THE ATTACKS ON GAZA IMMEDIATELY!
    ENTER INTO GENUINE NEGOTIATIONS TO END THE OCCUPATION NOW!

    A Press Release from The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
    December 27, 2008

    Let’s be crystal clear. Israel’s massive attacks on Gaza today have one overarching goal: conflict management. How to end rocket attacks on Israel from a besieged and starving Gaza without ending the impetus for those attacks, 41 years of increasingly oppressive Israeli Occupation without a hint that a sovereign and viable Palestinian state will ever emerge.

    Indeed, the Occupation, in which Israel controls Gaza under a violent siege which violates fundamental human rights and international law, is not even mentioned in Israel’s PR campaign. Speaking to the international community, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni insists that no country would tolerate its citizens being attacked, a seemingly reasonable statement were it not for Israeli sanctions on Gaza supported by the US and Europe – sanctions that preceded the rocket fire on Israel – or the fact of Israeli Occupation in general. Solely focusing on the rocket attacks conceals the political policy that led to them: “The Hamas government in Gaza must be toppled,” Livni has said repeatedly. “The means to do this must be military, economic and diplomatic.”

    The responsibility for the suffering both in Israel and Gaza rests squarely with successive Israeli governments, Labor, Likud and Kadima alike. Had there been a genuine political process (remember, the closure of Gaza began in 1989), Israelis and Palestinians could have been living together in peace and prosperity already for 20 years. After all, already in 1988 the PLO accepted the two-state solution in which a Palestinian state would arise on only 22% of historic Palestine, alongside the state of Israel on the other 78%. A truly generous offer.

    In Israel, however, the effort is to hide its preference for control over peace. Framing its attacks as a response to rockets from Gaza, exploiting an immediate trigger to effectively conceal deeper political intentions and policies, does that. It also conceals Israeli violations of the cease-fire. The fact that the rocket attacks could have been avoided altogether through a genuine political process means that the people of southern Israel are being held hostage by their government as well. Their suffering, and the suffering of the people of Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories, must be placed squarely at the feet of the Israeli government.

    Israel cannot expect security for its people and political normalcy as long as it occupies Palestinian lands and continues its attempt to impose its permanent rule over the Palestinians by military force. We call on the Israeli government to end its aggression immediately and enter into genuine political negotiations with a united Palestinian leadership. We call on the international community to end its sanctions on Gaza immediately in accordance with international law, initiate an effective political process to end the Israeli Occupation and bring about a just peace – which reflects the will of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

    The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

    Please visit our websites:
    http://www.icahd.org
    http://www.icahduk.org
    http://www.icahdusa.org

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  4. Pingback: Gaza demonstration in Iraq bombed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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