August 1, 2015 Rally in Tel Aviv
The horrible events of the last week brought out thousands in different parts of Israel tonight to protest. The main rally in Tel Aviv that was sponsored by Peace Now, and took place in Rabin Square.
When I first arrived at the rally I was concerned that there were not enough people in attendance, but by the time the rally got underway, the square had filled with nearly 10,000 people. The first speaker of the evening was MK Yitzhak Herzog.
Herzog attacked the government and called on everyone to pray to whatever God they believe in for the family of the slain Palestinian infant. He said we cannot simply return to our routines, and called on the government to make all of the right-wing hate organizations illegal. Herzog referred to the terrible death threats that President Rivlin was receving for speaking out against right-wing violence, declaring that we will not allow another Israeli policial leader to be slain.
Herzog was followed by the most emotional part of the evening, when the Uncle of the slain Palestinian baby spoke. I think everyone in the crowd was amazed by his courage to come speak to an Israeli crowd in Rabin Square. The Uncle described the terrible events and then demanded that Prime Minister Netanyahu protect his village, as well as the rest of the villages of the West Bank.
Zahava Galon, the head of the Meretz Party spoke next. She called those who burned children and attacked Gay Pride Parades "our own ISIS" and insisted we had to take action against them. Galon continued, "We need to treat them and their organizations like terrorist organizations". She attacked Prime Minister Netanyahu stating – You cannot say 'the Arabs are rushing to vote by the busload' one day, and make a condolence calls to their slain the next day. She went on to list Netanyahu's failings. Then, after a member of the crowd reminded here, she mentioned Netanyahu's incitement against Prime Minister Rabin, who was killed not far from where we were all standing.
Amir Peretz, former head of the Labor Party and former Defense Minister, stated that every morning we have woken up to another terrible act; acts done in the name of God. He wants no part of that God.
One of the final speakers of the night was one of the most interesting. Carmi Gilon, former head of the Shin Bet (Israel's internal security service) stated he was angry that this rally was taking place in Tel Aviv, and not in Bet El. He stated that the murderers did not come from the crowd here tonight. They were not merely a small number of crazies, but rather a part of a large group who had grown up and were educated in the settlements. He said that he personally knew the Rabbis who were bringing up their students to hate. He decried the fact that these Rabbis who incite were not arrested. Gilon recalled a meeting with Prime Minister Menachem Begin, some 30+ years ago, the night Emil Greensweig (a Peace Now activist) was killed at a rally. Begin stated "it would be Jewish terrorist who would bring down the Third Jewish Kingdom", meaning the State of Israel.
While this demonstration was taking place in Tel Aviv, others were taking place in other parts of Israe l– including a large protest in Jerusalem, where President Rivlin spoke. Have Israelis woken up? I have my doubts. I try to be hopeful. It has been a terrible week. It is strange. A year ago we were running in and out of bomb shelters, as missiles rained down on us, (but then we had Iron Dome to protect us.) I fear that it will be much harder to protect us from our religious fanatics, especially since some of the them are actually members of our Knesset.