Thou shall not murder in my name
I've never been to a political demonstration in my life; I'm not a political person. Today was my first, a "stop the war" demonstration in Tel Aviv. I went with an older friend who remembers going to the 1982 huge demonstration after Sabra and Shatila, but we didn't find ourselves in a spontaneous consensus demonstration, on the contrary. This was an extreme left wing one, full with communist flags and symbols (someone even came with a Stalin shirt!), the protest was led by Arab Israelis from Arabic left political parties and that is hardly consensus in this country. In fact, people stopped their cars to shout at us that we are traitors and others threw eggs at us from their balconies. It felt weird. I've never belonged to either left or right, I try to use both my limbs :-)
Many people would agree with the message of the protest: we have no business in Lebanon, this will solve nothing, stop shooting and start talking, we don’t want to be a conquering army, and we prefer exchanging prisoners than body bags. Even people from right wing and certainly most of the soldiers I know don't want wars, but the minute this message is linked with the Palestinian problem, which is a different and more complex issue, and lead by extreme leftists, consensus people just stay indoors and won't support this. There were a couple of us there that belonged no where or came for humanitarian reasons but this wasn't our game, we felt out of place. I took comfort in playing journalist, taking some photos and a video for this Blog.
The loud and most exciting voices in this demonstration came from the Anarchist youth. You know those pictures from Anti-Globalization demonstrations around the world. A growing portion of Israel's youth is becoming Anarchists, and although the parents might suffer a bit, I think it's great for our future, I mean, look at the 60s generation, they grew up to be fine people. I believe in this young generation although they are still stigmatized for refusing army service in debatable ways, and you can't afford to be a pacifist in this country. But somewhere between the Neo-Zionists and the Anarchists we'll find the balance, I'm sure.
There was also a large portion of Queers singing: "we're coming out of the closet so IDF come out of Lebanon". In Hebrew it rhymes so it was brilliant. Not to mention there was a fanatic Rabbi in Jerusalem who claimed that Hezbollah attacked us in the first place only because there was supposed to be a gay parade in the holly city. I hope Nasrahlla heard the parade was cancelled; maybe he'd like to withdraw now…
We may brag about our democracy but Israel is an extremely racist society and I won't even dare to repeat the bad words screamed towards us today. One person even begged Nasrahlla to send a Zilzal rocket to Tel Aviv right now in the midst of this demonstration and screamed he's willing to get hurt too, just to see us bombed. It was very hard for me since I do understand both sides. People here are attacked in extreme ways and they feel they have a right to destroy the attackers. They freak out thinking their own people don’t subscribe to what seems to them as clear (and right!) as the sun will rise in the morning. It's not even about hate or revenge, someone fired at you so you fire back, could there be another answer that isn't stupid and irrelevant? I can understand logically how they see us as traitors. These people are not fanatics, they just don’t trust Arab people anymore and they can't grasp the fact people still try to, it seems suicidal. This is not a left and right issue since many of my leftist friends think we should beat the shit outta the hostiles and swallow the mistakes done on the way.
This is not about political views; it's a clash of value Memes. It's getting beyond "an eye for an eye" which leaves us both blind, as Gandhi said. One of the speakers in the demonstration was a man from Haifa that a rocket ruined his home and he still opposes the war. However, Israel as a whole is clearly not ready to move beyond ideology. For a moment there I thought it's behind us, Post-Zionism was the fashion. But it's amazing how fast we collapse into ideology and mythical clichés when we're being threatened. We have no right to judge other Arab countries since we're being so much like them. The only difference democracy makes is that the police in this country keeps the protestors safe from people who wanna beat the crap outta them, instead of shooting or locking them up.
"Children in Beirut and Haifa want to stay alive!" shouted the protestors. I think everyone will agree with this sentence but not on the means of accomplishing it. So many people are arrogant enough to think our army can accomplish peace and the best solution for BOTH sides. Maybe they're right to trust no one else, but their perspective is too narrow to realize it's absurd.
On the other hand, we already gave up to this inside pressure 6 years ago and pulled out of Lebanon, and what happened? Hezbollah settled back in a better position. It'll be suicidal to leave Lebanese soil but lethal to stay there. My only conclusion is that an international force has to come between us. There is no other way. The world has to stop nodding its head and frowning at Israel and just get its ass over here! Any realistic observer knows none of us can afford to withdrawal now. All this blood will be on the UN and NATO's hands.