Stop The War - Peace Now March In Tel-Aviv
The Other Israel - briefing April 6, 2002
On the way to the Rabin Square in Tel-Aviv, the radio news told of thirty Palestinians killed today at the Jenin fighting. The commentator prefaced this piece of news with "The Palestinians allege that...". In fact, some Palestinian
contacts with whom we spoke today gave much higher figures. With the army declaring the whole of Jenin "a closed miltary zone" and no journalists or impartial observers of any kind, it is impossible to know. What is clear is that at the Jenin Refugee Camp the army encountered an exceptioanlly stiff resistance from the local Palestinians - and reacted by exceptionally brutal
measures designed to break that resistance before international pressures force a withdrawal. The army's armoured bulldozers are known to be destroying houses by the dozen - and by some accounts, this time they are doing it while the inhabitants are still inside.
As the crowds started to gather at the Rabin Square, in preparation for the march, a group of youngsters was visible at a corner, hastily preparing placards with "Stop the war crimes in Jenin!", which were added to the more general Stop the war/Stop the bloodshed/Get out of the Territories provided by organisers. Soon, torches were lighted, despite the drizzling summer rain, signs and banners were picked up, and the march set off along the wide Ibn Gvirol Street - row after row, supporters of Peace Now which organized the event and contingents of the more radical groups such as Gush Shalom and Ta'ayush, and a significant presence of Arabs which is not the norm in Peace Now actions.
Outside the Defence Ministry, where the march ended, a rally took place at a rather irregularly-shaped parking lot. At the edge of the crowd, where the undersigned were distributing the popular Gush Shalom "Bring back the soldiers!" stickers, only snatches of the speeches could be heard. "The black flag of manifest illgallity and flagrant immorality flies ofer the Sharon government and its policy".
"They send the soldiers over there, to die in vain, in vain, in vain!'. "It is not a war against terror, it is a war of occupation and reoccupation". "Occupation and terrorism are bound up with each other, you can't end terrorism without ending occupation , and you can't end oocupation without ending terrorism".
As the natiuonal anthem was sung and the crowd filed out, a white-haired man continued standing, still and straight, hold a hand-made sign"I served in the Palmach [pre-state militia]. I fought in the War of Independence and in the paratroopers afterwards. I lost my son, killed in vain in Lebanon. I salute the courageous men of conscience, who refuse to take part in Sharon's Lebanon War II".
Israeli press reports estimated the turnout at 7,000. Not as many as there should have been there, considering the magnitude of what is happening. On the other hand, not negligable, considering how traumatised the Israeli society became after the past week's series of lethal suicide bombing, and how Sharon - with the help of his Labor Party partners - manipulated large parts of public opinion to accept miltary action as "the only answer to terrorism".
Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt