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More than 500 protest in Tel Aviv against IDF raids in Lebanon, Gaza
by Haaretz (reposted)
Sunday Jul 16th, 2006 6:33 PM
More than 500 left-wing activists gathered in central Tel Aviv on Sunday to protest the escalating violence in Lebanon and the Israel Defense Forces' continued offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Police forces blocked the protesters when they arrived at the site of the demonstration, and detained three people for questioning.

The protesters called the IDF's operations an unnecessary war, and demanded that the government hold negotiations on a prisoner exchange.

"We have learned from history that military solutions don't bring anything other than death and destruction," said Abir Kobti, an activist in the Coalition of Women for Peace. "We are calling on the government to regain its composure, come down from the tree, and solve these problems with negotiations to save us from more deaths on both sides," she said.

Kobti said the media diminishes the attacks on Lebanese civilians as outcomes of a military offensive, thus "portraying it as a necessary war surrounded by full consensus."

A women's protest was also held Sunday next to the central Haifa train depot where a Hezbollah rocket landed early Sunday, killing eight people. The women said that in the coming days, they would be assembling a new group of Arab and Jewish women against the war.
Sunday Jul 16th, 2006 6:36 PM
Stop the War Madness!

Those who refused
To talk with
The Palestinian government
And declared a blockade
On the Palestinian people -
Got a conflagration in
The Gaza Strip.

Those who refused
A prisoner exchange
And sent tanks
Into Gaza -
Got a conflagration
Both In the north
And in the south.

Those who refuse
To talk even now -
May get a conflagration
Throughout the Middle East.

And in the end,
In spite of everything -
They will talk.

Adam Keller, July 13
"Ministers approve various plans and courses of action proposed by the General Staff" was the dry radio report of last night's cabinet meeting. In the morning, the mass-circulation papers,Yediot Aharonot and Ma'ariv, translated this into enormous banner headlines GOVERNMENT DECLARES WAR!" followed by jingoist editorials and commentaries. Only the Liberal Ha'aretz had dared to dissent, in a cautious dovish editorial - "Say 'No' to Lebanon War II". (

Considered in isolation, Hizbollah's attack on the Israeli patrol, the killing and capturing of soldiers would indeed constitute "an unprovoked aggression". But without the daily carnage in Gaza going on under the nose of an indifferent international community, it is highly unlikely that Hizbollah would have done anything of the kind. (And for that matter, the Gaza mess would not have started without the preceding months of daily killings in the West Bank and a totally one-sided international boycott on the elected Palestinian government, and the entire Pallestinian people.) The only hope: that now the world will be a little bit wiser and not let the conflagration spread any further.

The next hour's radio bulletin already carried the news of Beirut International Airport being put out of commission, and of the Lebanese death toll reaching 27 (including twelve members of a single family) and which would get considerably higher during the day, and of an Israeli woman being killed in the northern town of Nahariya and naturally getting far more attention than the "enemy" casualties. The considerable Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip (also including a whole family - father, mother and five children) was totally pushed to the background, yesterday's war and yesterday's bloodshed.

And then we found in our emails a call penned during the night by a group of Jerusalem youngsters, calling upon all of us well-established groups to bestir ourselves and come out in immediate protest and outcry:

Picket the Defence Ministry Today, 6.00 pm!

"Summer Rains" precipitatre a flood of blood!

Start negotaition for prisoner excahnge! Stop the killing! Stop the war! End the occupation!

In this demonstration we will call upoon the government to stop the escalation and military offensives, and conduct negotiations leading to a real political change.

The government chooses to use cruel military force and collective punishment against the civilian populations of Gaza and Lebanon in order to pressure the captors of Israeli soldiers. Aside from being immoral and verging on war crime, this policy will prove ineffective in returning the captives or effecting calm.

The latest events in Gaza and Lebanon are directly related to the Government of Israel's campaign against the elected leadership of the Palestinian people. This policy prevents any chance of creating a channel of communications and diplomatic negotiations with our neightbors, and leaves the arena to those who want endless fighting. The only true solution is negotiations for the end of the conflict.

And so, while listening during the day to the news of escalating strike and counter-strike and the mounting bloodshed, there was at least something concrete to do: prepare placards and banners, phone people, forward the messsage to more email lists, place it on relevant internet discussion forums...

And so, only a few hours after the start of the attack on Lebanon, 200 peace activists were already gathered in front of the Ministry of Defense to protest.

"One - Two - Three - Four / We do not want this fucking war!" shouted the demonstrators, members of several organizations, youngsters side by side with veterans. Other slogans (roughly translated from Hebrew) were:

"Artillery and Qassams / The occupation is bad for everybody!"

"Peretz - you promised education and pensions / And all we got is tanks and dead bodies!"

"Peretz, Peretz, for the sake of the North / Get out of Lebanon!"

"Jews and Arabs / Refuse to be enemies!"

"Exchange prisoners-of-war / Bring the soldiers home!"

"Peretz, Peretz, Minister of Defense / You have killed seven children today!"

The chanting of "Peace - Yes! Occupation - No! Peace - Yes! Invasion -No! Peace - Yes! Bombing - No!" was accompanied by rhtimic thunmping on the sheet iron fence erected for public works on the road - which turned out to be an excellent improvised drum

Some older participants started out with singing the classic Lebanon War protest song: "Red eleinu aviron/Kach otanu leLvanon/Nilachem bishvil Sharon/Venachzor betoch aron". (Come down airplane/Take us to Lebanon/We will fight for Sharon/and come back in a coffin). The problem that neither "Olmert" nor "Peretz" could fit into the rhyme was solved easily: "Anyway, they are both just copying Sharon" commented a participant.

The reaction of passers-by was much less hostile then anticipated. Some drivers shouted curses at the activists, but quite a number honked in agreement. Most drivers seemed to be fatalistic.

The police brought a much larger force than usual, including a special unit for riot control. It seems that they feared a blocking of the traffic by the young demonstrators.

"In 1982, when we came out on the first day of the war, not far from here, the police just jumped on us as soon as we unrolled our placards. That's progress for you" said one of the old-timers. The comparison gave some cheer on this bleak day - considering that during Ariel Sharon's invasion of Lebanon, 24 years ago, protest mushroomed within a few weeks to ten thousands, and to the legendary 400,000 three months later. But that was after the Sabra and Shatila Massacre...

Meanwhile, some participants talked of personal concerns. "Missiles fell not far where my daughter lives in the north. I suggested to her to come with her children to Tel-Aviv until things calm down. She does not want it, says she lives in a small place which no one will think worth bombing. Sure, nobody will target the place, but accidents can always happen, I am very worried" said a white haired woman, holding aloft the sign: "Stop the war madness!"

And so, we go of the relative comfort of being with our fellow-activists, and in a crowded bus where in casual conversations all around you can here again and again "War", "War", "War"... And then the news of the latest escalation - a rocket shot at Haifa in retaliation for the bombing of Beirut, and Peretz vowing dire retaliation, and Israeli gunboats immediately setting Lebanese oil reserves on fire... But at least the EU seems to be stirring out of a long long slumber and say some critical words, which seems a small oasis of hope in this dark night.


July 13, Yesh Gvul calls on the Israeli government not to sink in the Lebanese quagmire, and refrain from attacking civilians. "We call on Israeli pilots to refrain from targeting civilians, and all soldiers and commanders in the IDF are reminded that targeting civilians is a war crime. A criminal attack by Hizbullah against Israeli civilians does not justify targeting Lebanese civilians."


Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Calls for US Intervention to Prevent Full-Scale Arab-Israeli War

But with all which happens we shouldn't forget the routine oppression in the West Bank. Therefore the Coalition against the Wall of which Gush Shalom is part sent out the following call:

A call for Civil Disobedience in Izbet Tabib Qalqiliya region.

Saturday July 15 Izbet Tabib is a small village of 300 inhabitants near Qalqiliya. It was established in 1920 and in 1948 it received an influx of refugees from Tubsur, which stood where Raánana is now. The residents of the village are all recognized as refugees (by UNRWA) but the village is not recognized as a refugee camp. In fact, it is not recognized at all by the Israeli government which has issued demolition orders for most of the buildings in the village.

This small village has been assaulted by the Israeli occupation in ways which would have destroyed much larger communities. Much of its lands were taken by the wall, basic infrastructure such as a connection to the electric grid and permanent roofs for buildings is denied and most recently, the main exit from the village was blocked by an earth mound.

The mere existence of Izbet Tabib is a continuing act of resistance in the form of Tsumud.

The village is now calling on Israelis to join it on Saturday July 15th to demonstrate against the wall and the closure of the road and to continue the construction of the village's kindergarten in defiance of the building restrictions.
by Haaretz (reposted)
Sunday Jul 16th, 2006 7:37 PM
By Uzi Benziman

The Gush Shalom peace organization published an announcement over the weekend linking the Hezbollah assault on Israel with the military response in Gaza to the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit. Right-wing commentators, for their part, compared Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah with the entire Arab world, viewing his aggression as proof of the inherent satanic character of all Arabs, which drives them to seek Israel's destruction.

Gush Shalom's reasoning is based on the following logic: The Kerem Shalom military outpost was attacked, and Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, because of Israel's refusal to talk with the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority. As a result of its refusal to negotiate toward a prisoner exchange, Israel launched a broad military operation in the Gaza Strip, which led Hezbollah to strike in the north and drag Israel into a war in Lebanon that could rock the entire region.

The conclusion to which Gush Shalom's argument points is unequivocal: Israel is the catalyst for the destructive chain of events. The right, on the other hand, pins the blame on the evil, inherent nature of all Arabs, from the moment of birth: They are intolerant of Jews, Israel and Western civilization and they seek, with zealous persistence, to impose Islamic rule on the entire world.

In the eyes of the right, all Arab governments are Al-Qaida, either overtly or covertly, and all Muslims are Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah.

The leftist responses do not distinguish between Israel's (partial) responsibility for the continuing conflict with the Palestinians and the dominant belief within fundamentalist Islam - represented on Israel's borders by Hamas and Hezbollah - that denies Israel's right to exist and rejects all dialogue, on religious grounds.

At the other extreme, the right's stereotyping of the Arab world ignores its multifaced nature as well as the willingess of the governments of Egypt, Jordan and more distant Arab states to maintain peaceful relations with Israel. It ignores the possibility of finding a partner in dialogue toward an agreement within Palestinian society, which is partly, if not largely, secular. The equation proposed by the right at this difficult time - that the withdrawal from Lebanon led to the Katyushas being fired on northern Israel, just as the disengagement from the Gaza Strip led to the Qassams in the south - reflects a deterministic view of human behavior. It says that a higher power, that is not controlled by the same rules governing life on Earth, sentences Israel to eternal violent conflict with its environment. The events of the last two weeks, however, are proof that this is not the case.

While the sharp Israeli response to Hezbollah's provocation enjoys domestic support and international understanding (for now, anyway), the military measures taken in Gaza are controversial both in Israel and abroad. The killing of two soldiers at Kerem Shalom and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit have been linked in the consciousness of the world (and some Israelis) to the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation. In contrast, Hezbollah's attack near Zarit, the initial result of which was the killing of eight soldiers and the abduction of two more, is perceived by the entire Israeli public (with the possible exception of Gush Shalom and Arab Knesset members) as an act of war that violates Israel's sovereignty and was carried out in the service of a foreign country (Iran) out of religious zeal redirected into internal Lebanese balance-of-power considerations. That is also how it is viewed by the rest of the world, including the important Arab states.

In other words, Israel's claim to self-defense and the moral right to respond to the Hezbollah with military might, as it sees fit, is indisputable. On the other hand, the justification for Israel's confrontation with the PA's Hamas government is less obvious. The occupation continues to reverberate and to provide the Palestinians with a pretext to strike out at Israel and to question the legitimacy of Israel's military response to being attacked.