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Tel Aviv Rally Against Blockade Of Palestinians

Tel Aviv Rally Against Blockade Of Palestinians

From Sol Salbe

[Two rallies were held on Saturday night to mark the 39th anniversary of the Occupation and to protest the boycott of the Palestinians. One was held in Ramallah on the West Bank the other in Tel Aviv. We hope to bring additional information about the Ramallah rally later but it does appear as if it was the first time that Palestinian and Israeli student rallied in their own towns for a common cause.

The report below is my translation of the Hebrew media release issued by Gush Shalom. None of the Gush Shalom people have had a chance to verify the accuracy of the translation and it does incorporate a slightly longer quote from Shulamit Aloni in Ma’ariv which Beate Zilversmidt of Gush Shalom has authenticated. My thanks to SB for going over the rushed translation and improving the grammar etc no end and to MM for assistance in the English rendition of some names. Nevertheless all responsibility and blame for the translation is mine and mine alone. - Sol Salbe]

Gush Shalom Media release, 3 June 2006

Shulamit Aloni addressing thousands at the Tel Aviv museum:

“We have to talk to the Hamas government. They were elected democratically and they are our partners for peace. Amir Peretz is following his predecessor in the path of killing, destruction, oppression and war crimes.”

Shulamit Aloni, former Israeli Education Minister and Israel Prize winner for her work on human rights, called last night for the immediate opening of negotiations with the elected Palestinian government, headed by Hamas. Aloni made her comments while speaking to a crowd of thousands at a rally at Museum Square in Tel Aviv. The rally was called by a broad range of Israeli peace groups and organisations.

She said: “How much more can the Israeli occupying state degenerate? How much lower can the army that’s called the Israeli Defence Force sink? It is carrying out acts of bombing, killings and murder. We have passed despicable legislation which enables the army to do whatever it likes in the Occupied Territories without the need to pay compensation. It is permissible to destroy, kill, torture and injure. There is no justice and there is no judge. The new [Defence] Minister Amir Peretz is following the war crimes path trodden by his predecessor. Three days ago during the Shavuot celebration, he spoke of Jewish justice and the concept of love and care for the Other. But in reality we are becoming a despicable Apartheid state and everything that has been said about Jewish justice has been turned into dust and ashes.

“And now we have a law which prohibits family reunification. A jurist friend of mine tells me that these people are from an enemy country. An enemy country? Who has been ruling those parts for nearly forty years? Who has been stealing land and water and turning towns and villages into detention camps? Everything is permissible because “there is no partner“. But there has never been a partner. Arafat was not a partner, Abu Mazen was not a partner, and naturally the Hamas is no partner. So let me tell you; there is somebody to talk to and we ought to talk to them. Over there such a body exists, because there is a democratically elected government there. I’ll let you into a secret: We have had many democratically elected governments in Israel which I was not too enthusiastic about and did not want. But nevertheless these were the democratically elected government. If the State of Israel wants peace, and I have my doubts as to whether it does, then it ought to know that there is someone there to talk to and there’s a need to talk to them.”

Palestinian educator Terri Boullata, principal of a school in Abu Dis, brought greetings from a simultaneous Palestinian rally in Manara Square in the heart of Ramallah, where IDF forces killed four Palestinian demonstrators about a week ago. Boullata, whose own backyard has been divided by the “Separation Wall”, told the rally: “At my school we organised an end of the school year celebration for children who have lived their entire lives in the shadow of the wall and fence. I hope that one day all of us, Israelis and Palestinians, will have the pleasure of tearing down that fence together. I have come here to call for a halt to the siege and boycott of my people.

“In 1977, when the Likud was elected to power in Israel, the world was outraged. But did anybody decide then to punish the Israeli people for its democratic choice? Of course not. Our President Abu Mazen has initiated a referendum in order to formulate a Palestinian consensus position for peace. But this is not what the Olmert government wants.

“The Israeli government wants to act unilaterally, to carry out what is called Hitkansut [realignment or convergence] in order to annex additional areas. It wants to annex the areas where the settlers illegally live on my people’s land. You Israelis want security. I also want security for my children. Let me tell you that no one will get security out of unilateral actions. If you don’t implement the two-state solution now, if you imprison the Palestinians in twenty ghettos, you will get neither peace nor security. You’ll only get security by negotiation and through the setting up of two states based on the 1967 borders.”

There were calls of support at the rally for three refuseniks currently serving time for their refusal to be conscripted into the army of occupation. The well-known protest singer/song writer Zeev Tene performed his song “You’ll never know another IDF“. Greetings were read from the villagers of Bil’in who are struggling against the construction of the fence on their land and from simultaneous rallies and gatherings in the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. All called on the governments of the world to remove both the boycott and financial embargo of the Palestinian people.

Novelist Salman Natour from Daliat el Karmel village said: “We thought that for the first time we have a civilian Defence Minister. We thought that we have someone who instead of just climbing down from a tank, has come from the [poor] development town’s streets, from a demonstration or a strike meeting. But we received a Defence Minister who is getting dragged behind the generals and admirals, one who is following their tracks to authorise murder after murder. For Amir Peretz it is merely a technical issue as to where exactly is a bomb going to land in Gaza. Just like it is merely technical that a Qassam rocket hits the neighbour’s house and not Amir Peretz’s. The point, however, is that we have to talk to our neighbours and resolve this bloody conflict.

“Don’t say you didn’t know,” said Professor Yehuda Shenhav from Tel-Aviv University, “Don’t say that you didn’t know that war crimes are being carried out in our own backyard. Executions are taking place there without trial; the elderly and the sick are being halted at checkpoints on their way to hospitals and our taxes are going to maintain the Occupation instead of society’s needs. Our men and women of letters, High Court judges, academics, poets and writers, have become morally and ideologically bankrupt. It is time to tear down the hypocrisy curtain. A Palestinian state must be formed inside the 1967 borders – a genuine state and not an Israeli protectorate state. A Swiss-cheese state full of holes and gaps will not do. It will not bring peace.” Shenhav ended his speech by calling: “Talk to Hamas now! Talk to Hamas now!” Thousands of voices in the crowd echoed his call.

The demonstrators had arrived at Museum Square having marched from Rabin Square along Ibn Gvirol Street. They regularly called out “Peace Yes – Occupation No”, “The Occupation is terror – the refusenik is the hero” and “Peretz, Peretz, Minister for Defence – how many kids did you kill today?” “Amir Peretz has fairly and squarely earned the honour of what he was called today,” said a rally organiser. “The very person who raised such hopes among the Israeli Left has been transformed into the Defence Minister – the Minister for the Occupation and Oppression who is continuing the evil deeds of his predecessors.”

The rally was organised by the Women’s Coalition for Peace, Gush Shalom, Ta’ayush, Hadash [Democratic Front for Peace and Equality based on the Communist Party], Balad [National Democratic Assembly] , Banki [Israeli Communist Youth Alliance]. The Alternative Information Centre, Student Coalition – Tel Aviv University; The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, The Campus is not Silent; Artists without Walls ; Our Colours [Proud Youth in the Meretz Party] and MachsomWatch*

* Translator’s note: other reports suggest Bat Shalom, New Profile and Yesh Gvul also sponsored the rally.


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