Israeli Peace Marchers Protest Iran War Talk in Tel Aviv

Haaretz reports that hundreds of Israeli peace activists marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest all the talk of striking Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. Their placards demanded “No to War with Iran,” and “Talks, not Bombs.”

The boldness of this march, given the rightwing political atmosphere in Israel, should not be underestimated. Devastated at the polls and quiescent for years, the Israeli left has in the past year begun finding its voice. The J14 movement of street protests for affordable housing and education brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis into the streets last summer and fall. It is well known that many of the protesters skewed left politically and privately oppose the concerted settlement of Palestinian land in the West Bank.

The peace activists and the social justice organizers are offering a new discourse about the good society that differs perceptibly from the old, Labor left. For instance, Uri Savir, President of the Peres Center for Peace, argues for a two-fold strategy. He admits that the Arab Spring makes it more important than ever for Tel Aviv to give up the dream of “Greater Israel” and to draw back from the West Bank, since Israel’s Arab neighbors will never accept that millions of Palestinians should continue to live under occupation. But he takes a harder line against Iran, urging a close American alliance, sanctions, and a military strike as “a last resort.” In essence, he is reversing the policy of the Likud government of PM Binyamin Netanyahu, which routinely risks strained relations with the executive in Washington, sees a strike on Iran as an urgent priority and not a last resort, and is redoubling efforts to colonize the Palestinian West Bank with Israeli squatters.

As welcome as Savir’s common sense is (and it seems to represent Israeli President Shimon Peres’s own thinking), he seems strangely tone deaf to the dangers that ‘crippling’ sanctions on Iran will lead to war, and strangely detached from reality in thinking it is still plausible that Israeli squatters in the West Bank can be removed or that there is enough of it left to form a basis for a Palestinian state. The UN is now reporting that the Israeli state is actively helping West Bank Israeli squatters to steal water resources and springs that belong to the Palestinians, depriving the latter of water and turning the springs into revenue sources and even tourist sites. Colonialism is theft.

In a context where Savir’s position is so far left that probably only a handful of members of the Israeli parliament would publicly sign on to it at this point, the Iran peace march in Tel Aviv is a breath of fresh air.

The dead end of conventional Israeli politics is well summarized by journalist Stav Shaffir of J14, who pointed out to Jweekly that the electorate seems to vote on security issues rather than social issues: “People vote like tomorrow there’s a war and they choose the best general. While doing that, we get a government that abandons all responsibilities. Society isn’t better when you build a better airplane, but when you [offer] a better education.”

Although unconnected to the peace march, another project of Israeli doves is a Facebook page set up by husband-wife team Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir to promote people-to-people positive relations between Israelis and Iranians.

The world-wide trend to big money dominating conventional politics has also affected Israel, where the country’s burgeoning prosperity is increasingly poorly distributed. This problem of creeping plutocracy is not only an issue for young people who can no longer afford apartment rent. It is the same plutocrats who own munitions factories and benefit from war, and who can buy parliamentarians to serve as their ventriloquist dummies. But when conventional politics is seized by gridlock, the people invent new forms of politics. We may be seeing glimmerings of a new Israeli politics of peace.

21 Responses

    • Well, maybe. That’s kind of how it started in America, back in the late ’50s-early’60s. Dozens, then hundreds, then…

      But of course America in the Hippie-Dippie days was a very different place from Israel in the now. Middle class people did not like the draft. Now they don’t even feel the hint of a draft, from any of the registers of the overheated Military Industrial Hegemony Machinery, and have the satisfactions of pseudo-righteous violence on Others being effectuated on their remote behalf.

  1. I am sorry to disappoint Juan, but as an Israeli I can tell you this sounds more like wishful thinking. I know the desperation to see some signs of hope from within Israel but I am afraid that would be a dangerous illusion.

    There is no turning of the tide in Israel and the colonial Apartheid beast cannot change its nature. If anything those opposing the war are doing it because they fear Iranian retaliation, not because of some sudden enlightenment. It’s quite a negligible part of Israeli society which is steadily marching towards the right with no change in course on the horizon.

    Yes, it’s nice to see that but it would be an illusion and self-deception to try to read anything into it.

    • doubt very much that you’re an israeli. if so, then what’s your opinion about this: “ben adam, ze pashoot shtooyot, ma she ata omar. ha matzav be yisrael, hoo harbah maod yoter mesubach me mah sha to-an.” but you won’t get the transliteration because you’re not a hebrew speaker and simply playing the part of troll. unfortunate

      • John is the wrong one. I live in Israel too, and the traction movements like this peace march get is zilch. Oh well.

        Maybe the storm will blow over and peace will come…maybe, duh, not…

  2. As an Iranian Jew (actually half Jewish), I dont see the logic of war talk from Israel. Many Iranian Jews will be killed by Israel’s IDF in a case of war as there really aren’t Jewish neighborhoods. Jews live in the same neighborhoods as muslims, go to the same schools, shop at the same stores. Thus the “collateral damage” imposed by israeli “friendly fire” will no doubt have many Jewish casualties.

    More disturbing is the talk of nuking Iran preemptively, as that nuke will not discriminate between Iranian Jews and gentiles. Thus Israel if it choses to go that route will be responsible for the largest mass murder of Jews since Nazi Germany. That will be a lot of Jewish blood on the Jewish states hands.

    If people want to remove Ahmadinejad from office all they have to do is wait. His second term of his 2 term limit is almost over. Hes not even a threat given that he is not the commander and chief of Iran’s armed forces, parliament summoned him for questioning with possible impeachment, and his strained relations with much of the conservative establishment who dislikes him anyways. Even if he was a threat to Israel, why all the hype when he has no power over the military? Sounds like American/Israeli war mongering to me

    • Sam, there is a “slight” problem with nuking Iran (or even blowing up the operating nuclear facilities, which is essentially a “dirty bomb”).

      If you look at a map, you will quickly discover that nuking Iran , ALSO nukes Afghanistan (any Americans there?), Pakistan (how happy will they be?), India, Myanmar, Thailand The PI and everyone downwind of Iran. The only ones that may escape being irradiated are the Chinese because the Himalayas may be high enough to stop most of the radioactive debris.

      Of course, if enough dust is blown into the upper atmosphere, no one in the northern hemisphere will need to worry about global warming because the debris will create “nuclear winter.” BTW – the current calculations are that as few as five nuclear air bursts over cities in a short time frame, may be enough to trigger Nuclear Winter.

      I wonder how the folks in Oz will feel about all those radioactive refugees trying to escape the nuclear winter?

  3. We can bomb their nuclear facilities but we cannot bomb their knowledge. Even if we could successfully destroy their nuclear capability, and that is highly questionable and likely very costly, we are only delaying the inevitable. We would be much better off building relationships of trust and mutual respect with Iran and other Muslim countries, stop Israel’s uninspected proliferation of nuclear weapons and cut off Israel from all foreign aid until they learn to live in peace with their neighbors.

    • Stephen, your common sense approach is exactly right; that is, if peace were the goal, which it isn’t; most certainly not for Israel, nor the US neocons pushing for war with Iran.

  4. I am afraid that Ahad Haadam is right. Take a look at this reported in Haaretz and the Independent.

    Hundreds of soccer fans crowd Jerusalem mall: ‘Death to Arabs

    Video of event links to articles available on Mondoweiss at this link:

    link to

    first part of article in the Independent–but-no-arrests-7584089.html

    Buoyed by a home win, Jewish fans of football club Beitar Jerusalem this week rampaged through a nearby shopping centre following an evening match, attacking Arab workers and shoppers in one of the worst racial brawls seen in the city in recent years.

    The entire episode, which occurred at Jerusalem’s Malha Mall on Monday night, was captured on closed-circuit television, but Israeli police made no arrests, and the incident received no media attention until yesterday, prompting fury in Israel’s blogosphere.

    The attacks are the culmination of a long record of violent and anti-Arab behaviour by ultranationalist fans at Beitar, a club identified with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party. The Israeli Football Association’s efforts to rein in the club’s unruly fans have so far met with limited success.

    The incident started after a game at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, where Beitar beat Tel Aviv’s Bnei Yehuda, saving the once successful team from imminent relegation. Hundreds of fans, mostly teenagers, descended on busy Malha Mall, jumping on tables, waving scarves, and chanting “Death to Arabs”.

    When a group of fans started to heckle and spit on Palestinian women dining with their children in the food hall, the centre’s Arab cleaning staff rushed to their defence and chased the fans off. But moments later, the fans returned, and started to attack the Arab staff.

    “They [the fans] caught some of them and beat the hell out of them,” Yair, the Jewish owner of a bakery in the shopping centre, told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. “They hurled people into shops, and smashed them against shop windows. … One cleaner was attacked by some 20 people, poor guy.” The brawl might have turned deadly, but food hall staff refused to respond to fans’ demands for knives and sticks. It was only when police arrived 40 minutes later the situation was brought under control.

    “I’ve been here many years and I’ve never seen such a thing,” Haaretz quoted Gideon Avrahami, Malha’s director, as saying. “It was a disgraceful, shocking, racist incident; simply terrible.”

    The police defended its failure to make any arrests, saying it had received no complaints from any of the public, a response that drew immediate derision. “No complaints and no arrests. Does this mean riots against Arabs in malls is acceptable behaviour in Israel?” tweeted Joseph Dana, an Israeli blogger.

    Shmulik Ben Rubi, a Jerusalem police spokesman, later told The Independent the police would investigate the incident, which might lead to arrests

  5. How do we get to the supremacy of International Law and The UN? Israel would not have a leg to stand on in a court over the Palesinians/67 etc, they know it so attack Iran yah!
    Changes the priorities and the focus.
    More power to the brave folk who Demo’d and in London too.

  6. iranians cry upon hearing about the israeli campaign.

    Iranians see our page and break down with excitement. They always thought we hated them. The power of this initiative is that it bypasses governments,” she says.

    An Iranian landscape architect named Majid began an equivalent Iranian initiative, opening a Facebook page called “Iran loves Israel.” He says he heard about the Israeli page on a free radio station broadcasting to Iran from Prague, and immediately joined in.

    “The responses to the page were extraordinary,” says Majid, 34, a father of two. “Don’t forget the Internet in Iran is blocked and it’s very difficult to surf. I had no reason to think the Israelis were bad people, but in recent days I’ve found them to be very civilized,” he says.

    Shaidi Shahin, a young Iranian living in India, filled her Facebook page with expressions of love for Israel. “When I read what the Israeli couple had written,” she writes to me, “I started crying.”

  7. another iranian profile:

    Razi says he belongs to Iran’s constantly shrinking middle class. He dresses up, speaks and thinks like a Westerner, yet to his great regret lives in Tehran. “I would run away if I could,” he says. “But I have a big family and roots here, and I prefer to hope and believe that sometimes all of this will pass and we’ll again be able to live like human beings.”

    In recent weeks, the local currency depreciated dramatically, the prices of goods skyrocketed, and inflation has spun out of control. Meanwhile, the government has minimized fuel subsidies and encourages residents to walk or use public transportation. “We’re eating less meat, whose price went up significantly, and settle for staples. It’s good for our health. Maybe the Americans want all of us to go on a diet,” he quips, bitterly.

    When Razi is told of the recent Israeli Facebook campaign under the “We Love Iran” banner, he laughs. “I would do a similar campaign. I love Israel,” he says. “However, I have this slight concern that 10 minutes after my first post goes online, you’ll find me hanging upside down from a city crane.”

  8. – “JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Israel said on Monday it has severed contacts with the UN Human Rights Council after its launch last week of an international investigation into settlements in the occupied West Bank.”
    So any denying UN access

    – 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel has occupied since 1967.

  9. Simply there is not enough defense oil Business in Peace.
    US Russia both want legal nuclear arms reduction, not like Israel, an illegal nuke for every home. Israel Pop <8 mil Iran Pop 78 mil x10 (Wow! Wouldn't you think twice or more x10 before p'ing off someone that big! N smart too! In ur own back yard?)

    If the UN process totally supported by the US won Peace with solutions on complex issues like the claims of 7 mil Palestinians refugees since 1948, then there might be a chance of successful negotiation in Afghanistan with the Taliban at the table too.

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