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Adam Keller: Stop The War Madness!

Stop The War Madness!


Adam Keller, July 13
Gush Shalom

"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". ( http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/737837.html).

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" precipitate a flood of blood!

Start negotiation for prisoner exchange! Stop the killing! Stop the war! End the occupation!

In this demonstration we will call upon 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 http://www.btvshalom.org/pressrelease/20060713pr.shtml

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.

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