"Bring the Soldiers Home! - It will not End - Until we Talk!"
The biggest demonstration against the war held in Israel until now took place today (5.8.06) in the heart of downtown Tel-Aviv, an area that is considered especially right-wing.
Close to 10 thousand demonstrators from all over the country, among them many Arab citizens, marched from Ben-Zion Boulevard, along King George Street, to Magen David Square. There, at the entrance to the Carmel market, a stage was set up. The thousands that did not find place in the square flowed over into Nahlat Binyamin and the other neighboring streets.
When the demonstrators were still waiting for the start, a salvo of eggs was thrown at them from the balcony of a building. The perpetrators fled before the police could reach them.
More serious was another act of sabotage. It had been decided to carry a mass of black flags. One of the activists brought the flags to the assembly point before the demonstrators arrived. Suddenly a car stopped, three youngsters got out, seized the flags by force and disappeared. The demonstration had to take place without them.
During the march, the demonstrators shouted (in Hebrew): "Jews and Arabs / refuse to be enemies!" - "We shall not die nor kill / in the service of the USA!" - "Children want to live / in Beirut and Haifa!" - "Peretz, Peretz resign / peace is more important!" - "A million refugees / that's a war crime!" - "Olmert, Peretz and Ramon / Get out of Lebanon!"
The two most popular stickers were Gush Shalom's "Bring the Soldiers Home" and the Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families' Forum's "It will not End Until we Talk!"
Some conspicuous posters: "We shall all lose!" - "Occupation and War are a disaster!" - "Just Peace = Security!" - "39 Years are enough - End the Occupation!" - "There is no military solution!" - "Cease-fire NOW!" - "Stop the war! Stop the massacre!"
All peace organizations took part. Besides Gush Shalom, participants included the Women's Coalition for Peace, Ta'ayush, Anarchists Against Walls, Yesh Gvul, the Israeli-Palestinian Forum of Bereaved Families, feminists, many parents with their children, veteran and young peace activists as well the political parties Hadash, Balad and the United Arab List.
A sign of the ferment in the political system was provided by members of Meretz, who took part in spite their party's pro-war position. They were led by former MKs Naomi Hazan abd Ya'el Dayan.
Dayan's speech caused an incident, when she sent greetings to the soldiers fighting in Lebanon. Her words aroused heated protests, and some activists tried to storm the stage, but were held back by their friends.
Among the speakers were the secretary of the Arab Citizens' Monitoring Committee, a representative of the Russian immigrants, a conscientious objector about enter prison, a peace activist whose housed has been hit by a rocket, and others.
Click here to read Uri Avnery's speech at the demo.