Tel Aviv rally: is the wind of change in Israel-Palestine gathering pace?

October 25, 2015

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Masses of those who look for peace and more evenly distributed prosperity, now able to share their news and their views online, are responding politically to the messages of Tsipras, Corbyn, Trudeau and Sanders.

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Hours ago, it was reported from Tel Aviv that thousands of Israelis rallied on Saturday for fresh Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Activist group Peace Now — which organised the rally along with the left-wing Meretz party and others — estimated there were some 6,000 people attending. Daniel Dojon told AFP he came “because the situation is crazy. I am not talking about safety but the lack of (political) progress, the lack of hope. Israeli politicians are becoming more and more extreme.”

israel rabinOn the eve of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, demonstrators chanted “Jews and Arabs don’t want to hate each other” and “Israel, Palestine, two states for two peoples”. They gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, where the Nobel peace laureate was shot on November 4, 1995 by a right-wing Israeli radical, Yigal Amir, who was opposed to the peace process and is now serving a life sentence. According to the Hebrew calendar the anniversary falls now, rather than in November.

Today, President Reuven Rivlin will host a candle-lighting tribute in Rabin’s memory and on Monday there will be a state memorial ceremony alongside his grave in the national cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.

“The path that was stopped in 1995 is very much the path that needs to be taken today,” Peace Now spokeswoman Anat Ben Nun told AFP

She said that Saturday night’s protest was aimed at the policies of the incumbent right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On the same day, in Amman, John Kerry met Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman. He announced round-the-clock video monitoring and Israel’s agreement to reaffirm Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the religious complex, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and as the Noble Sanctuary – Haram al-Sharif – to Muslims. “. . . we’ve agreed that this is a first step to creating some space in order to allow us to resume those steps and that dialogue,” he said.

israel kerry jordanJordanian King Abdullah II, right, met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Oct. 24 2015.

Though decorated for service in Vietnam, Kerry joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War organization and appeared in the Fulbright Hearings before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs where he stated United States war policy in Vietnam to be the cause of war crimes. In 1971, when the veterans gathered in Washington Mall for a week-long demonstration, he joined others in throwing ribbons and medals over a fence erected to prevent them from getting close to the front of the US Capitol.

A person standing near him recalled that he said, “There is no violent reason for this; I’m doing this for peace and justice and to try to help this country wake up once and for all.”

Amen!

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Many in the Middle East continue to pay a heavy price for Europe’s persecution and displacement of Jewish people

November 18, 2014

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At least four Israelis have been killed and eight injured in what police say was a terrorist attack at a West Jerusalem orthodox synagogue on Harav Shimon Agassi Street. Two men armed with a pistol, axes and knives carried out the attack in the Har Nof neighbourhood during prayers. Police say that the attackers – Palestinians from East Jerusalem – were shot dead. Jerusalem has seen tensions between Israelis and Palestinians soar, with a string of deadly attacks and clashes over a disputed holy site. Israeli media reports suggest there was a shoot-out between the attackers and police who arrived on the scene.

A BBC correspondent also conjectured that this incident was related to the deepening of tensions caused by the ‘disputed holy site.

Earlier this month we focussed on rising tension due to orthodox incursions to the pressure to admit Jewish worshippers to the Temple Mount, where the Al-Aqsa mosque, in the Old City of Jerusalem, is sited.

Provocation

Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, quoted in the Middle East Monitor; “Ariel told Israeli radio station Kol Berama – controlled by the Jewish extremist movement Shas – the status quo could not continue at the Al-Aqsa Mosque as it ‘was built in the place of the holiest place for Israel’ “.

Ariel added that the construction of a third Jewish temple at the site is the primary demand of the Torah “as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation”.

John Reed, in the FT, earlier reported that Jordan withdrew its ambassador from Israel after Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque. A Jordanian/Palestinian-led  Islamic trust, which administers the mosque, said that Israeli security forces damaged the mosque’s doors, burnt carpets and broke glass during the confrontation; two people were injured inside the mosque, and Israeli security forces used foam-tipped bullets, stun grenades and tear gas against protesters.

Henriette Al-Khouri says that although anti-Semitism has historically been a European issue, people in the Middle East have continued to pay a heavy price for Europe’s persecution and displacement of Jewish people – in land and blood – since the establishment of Israel (the Friend, 29 August 2014).

Most readers will wholeheartedly and urgently endorse her call to western governments, as well as Israelis, “to find a just and long lasting solution to this enduring and explosive conflict”.