Demos in London, Dublin, Tel Aviv. Israeli Right responds with violence and lies.
THOUSANDS of us marched through London on Saturday protesting the Israeli attack on aid ships trying to reach Gaza, and demanding an end to the siege. Whitehall was blocked by a rally outside Downing Street, with banner-waving youth clambering on top of stranded buses.
There was relief knowing that friends who had been with the freedom flotilla were returning safe, though some had been ill-treated. There was anger that comrades had been killed, some shot in the head or back as we now heard, and at the continued lies and fabrications from desperate Israeli spokesmen, as well as the continued siege. There was the wry thought that it had taken the bold flotilla, and the sacrifice of those murdered trying to take aid to Gaza, (as well as the anger in Turkey, a NATO member), to get the attention of our media and prompt our government to express concern.
There were Palestinian flags and this time Turkish flags too, there were trade union banners and that of the left-wing Labour Representation Committee. A Jewish contingent marching behind the banners of the Jewish Socialists' Group and Jews Against Zionism, with the big banner of Jews for Justice for Palestinians coming up behind, was applauded as we arrived at the rally. Soon we were swallowed in the growing throng.
A Jewish speaker was cheered as he called for Jews and Muslims to unite against racism in Israel as they did against racists in Britain.
Newly elected Green MP Caroline Lucas received an enthusiastic welcome. Then the crowd swept through London's West End heading for the Israeli embassy, and another rally in normally busy Kensington High Street, where speakers included Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.
There were demonstrations in Edinburgh, Dublin, and other cities around the world - including Tel Aviv, as reported below by friends from Gush Shalom, the Peace bloc:
“The Government Is Drowning Us All”
Uri Avnery attacked by rightist thugs
A disaster was averted yesterday (June 5) at Tel-Aviv’s Museum Square, when rightists threw a smoke grenade into the middle of the protest rally, obviously hoping for a panic to break out and cause the protesters to trample on each other. But the demonstrators remained calm, nobody started to run and just a small space in the middle of the crowd remained empty. The speaker did not stop talking even when the cloud of smoke reached the stage. The audience included many children.
Half an hour later, a dozen rightist thugs attacked Gush Shalom’s 86 year old Uri Avnery, when he was on his way from the rally in the company of his wife, Rachel, Adam Keller and his wife Beate Siversmidt. Avnery had just entered a taxi, when a dozen rightist thugs attacked him and tried to drag him out of the car. At the critical moment, the police arrived and made it possible for the car to leave. Gush spokesman Adam Keller said: “These cowards did not dare to attack us when we were many, but they were heroes when they caught Avnery alone.”
The incident took place when the more than 10 thousand demonstrators were dispersing, after marching through the streets of Tel Aviv in protest against the attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
Not only was this one of the largest peace demonstrations for a long time, but also the first time that all parts of the Israeli peace camp - from Gush Shalom and Hadash to Peace Now and Meretz – did unite for common action
The main slogan was “The Government Is Drowning All of Us” and “We must Row towards Peace!” - alluding to the attack on the flotilla. The protesters called in unison “Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies!”
The demonstrators assembled at Rabin Square and marched to Museum Square, where the protest rally was held. Originally, this was planned as a demonstration against the occupation on its 43th anniversary, and for peace based on “Two States for Two Peoples” and “Jerusalem – Capital of the Two States”, but recent events turned it mainly into a protest against the attack on the flotilla.
One of the new sights was the great number of national flags, which were flown alongside the red flags of Hadash, the green flags of Meretz and the two-flag emblems of Gush Shalom. Many peace activists have decided that the national flag should no longer be left to the rightists.
“The violence of the rightists is a direct result of the brainwashing, which has been going on throughout the last week,” Avnery commented. “A huge propaganda machine has incited the public in order to cover up the terrible mistakes made by our political and military leadership, mistakes which are becoming worse from day to day.”
In fact, while the official - and unofficial - Israeli government and IDF spokespersons grow more desperate in their lies, pretending for instance that they seriously feared the Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie might be carrying military equipment (wheelchairs?!), the fissures within Israeli society run higher than might have been expected. In a state which sets such store on 'security' and 'defence' expertise, consider this:
Ha’aretz (Published 20:04 06.06.10 Latest update 20:04 06.06.10
Israel Navy reserves officers: Allow external Gaza flotilla probe
Officers denounce operation as 'military and diplomatic failure', slam government for placing blame on the activists.
By Anshel Pfeffer
Tags: Israel news IDF Gaza flotilla
A group of top Israel Navy reserves officers on Sunday publicly called on Israel to allow an external probe into its commando raid of a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla last week, which left nine people dead and several more wounded.
In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, the Navy officers denounced the commando raid as having "ended in tragedy both at the military and diplomatic levels."
"We disagree with the widespread claims that this was the result of an intelligence rift," said the officers. "In addition, we do not accept claims that this was a 'public relations failure' and we think that the plan was doomed to failure from the beginning."
"First and foremost, we protest the fact that responsibility for the tragic results was immediately thrust onto the organizers of the flotilla," wrote the officers. "This demonstrates contempt for the responsibility that belongs principally to the hierarchy of commanders and those who approved the mission. This shows contempt for the values of professionalism, the
purity of weapons and for human lives."
The Navy officers' letter came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening his top ministers to deliberate a United Nations proposal to create a joint international committee alongside Turkey and the United States to investigate the circumstances of the deadly raid.
The cabinet was also to discuss the creation of an internal committee to look into the incident. Netanyahu earlier Sunday rejected the idea of an international panel, and reiterated that Israel had the right to conduct its own investigation.
Netanyahu discussed the proposal for a multinational panel with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a telephone call on Saturday but told cabinet ministers on Sunday that Israel was exploring other options, political sources said.
"I told [Ban] that the investigation of the facts must be carried out responsibly and objectively," Netanyahu told ministers. "We need to consider the issue carefully and level-headedly, while maintaining Israel's national interests as well as those of the Israel Defence Forces."
Meanwhile two other items of news on which I am awaiting more information.
One, that former Israeli paratrooper Dror Feiler, who has made his home as a musician and artist in Sweden, is back there having been captured on the Free Gaza flotilla and beaten by his Israeli captors. An Israeli minister says they will take Dror's Israeli nationality away. Dror is secretary of the European Jews for Just Peace (EJJP), whose affiliates include Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Jewish Socialists' Group. .
Second, that a group of Jewish people affiliated with EJJP is readying a vessel,"somewhere on the Mediterranen", hoping to run the Israeli blockade and sail into Gaza, with medical supplies and children's books and toys. No doubt some Israeli government spokesperson is being briefed now to say that the toys might include dangerous water pistols or bows and arrows with rubber suction pads that could threaten Tel Aviv.