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Photos: 100,000 demonstrate across Israel's periphery

A sign saying "social justice also for Palestinians" at J14 protest In Beersheeba, August 13 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

Some 100,000 people, Arabs and Jews, demonstrated across Israel tonight, after the J14 movement decided to break with tradition and hold rallies in a dozen different locations instead of one central rally in Tel Aviv. The decision resulted in several protests breaking local records, with over 15,000 demonstrating in Beer Sheva, over 30,000 in Haifa, over 15,000 in Afula (population 40,000). Other locations included the Arab city of Nazareth, the blue-collar town of Or Yehouda, the commuter city of Modi’in, Beit Shemesh, Netanya, Rishon Letzion and many others.

While the protest in Jaffa, which has seen many clashes between  police and protesters over the years, ended peacefully, in Or Yehouda some 500 people blocked the road and burned tires. One of the speakers at the Beer Sheva rally,Hanan Alsana, a Negev Bedouin, said the J14 struggle was for everyone, and called on Arabs and Bedouin to join the protest.

While this week’s protest numbers fall far below last week’s 300,000, this is the first time a major political movement or campaign decides not to hold a rally in Tel Aviv at all and calls on everyone to demonstrate in their home towns. The organisers are still calling for a million-strong march in early September. They appear to be in no rush to begin talks with the government, preferring instead to set up mixed experts and protesters committees fleshing out various demands, including a committee on changing the system of election and governance in Israel.

Feminist Arab-Jewish blogger Lihi Yona posted on Facebook after attending one of the protests: “I’m just back form the Haifa demo… if I may, this was the most exciting experience I had in my life. The number of Arab women and men speaking to huge applause from the crowd made me believe there will be a just, equitable state here some day. [Author] Sami Michael, who chose to speak in both Arabic and Hebrew, and the Arab singer – and more importantly, the masses that rocked to that singer’s music – made this night the most amazing experience I ever had.”

“For years, I would feel the need to correct people when they’d say Haifa was a mixed city,” Yona told +972. “I would feel the need to point out that it’s not mixed, that it’s segregated. And tonight it really was an integrated city… there were more Arab speakers than Jews and each time someone would say, in Arabic, “Arabs and Jews,” the crowd understood and cheered them on.”

J14 protest In Beersheeba, August 13 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

J14 protest In Beersheeba, August 13 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

J14 protest In Beersheeba, August 13 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

J14 protest In Beersheeba, August 13 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

J14 protest In Beersheeba, August 13 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

J14 protest In Beersheeba, August 13 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills.org)

J14 protest In Beersheeba, August 13 2011 (photo: Keren Manor / activestills.org)

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    1. Murtala

      Palestine must be free!

      Reply to Comment
    2. David

      Maybe my pessimistic assessments elsewhere are wrong. I hope I’m wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Frank Tamimi Kahn

      So what! This is a Zionist movement against the rising cost of living which intentionally ignores the Palestinians within & outside of 48. Their perception of “social justice” is completely warped. Indeed it is as racist as Zionism itself. So frankly I don’t give a shit if 500,000 turn up. I am waiting for the demo against the Occupation & 4 the Right of Return!

      Reply to Comment
    4. Thank you, Dimi.

      (Now off to find Lihi Yona.)

      ~ Maya

      Reply to Comment
    5. “various demands, including a committee on changing the system of election and governance in Israel.”

      This, and the decision to risk demonstrations outside Tel-Aviv, shows real, considered thought.

      And Frank Tamimi Kahn, one has to begin somewhere. Israel is not going away. Neither side, in the now hoepfully sense of side, will get all it says it wants.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Sylvia

      “Feminist Arab-Jewish blogger Lihi Yona posted on Facebook after attending one of the protests”
      Please explain “Arab-Jewish”. Does that mean that one of her parents is Arab and the other Jewish?
      Feminist “Mizrahi” activist Shira Ohayon made a brilliant speech in Tel Aviv Atzeret that should have made headlines yet no mention of it on this site. Why?
      “urban elites”: what does that mean?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Thank you for that hopeful post, hopeful in tone, hopeful in content conveyed.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Woody

      @ Frank – if the occupation is to end, it can’t simply do so by going AROUND the Israeli people. Either you have to plan to kill or remove all Israelis, or hope for a transformation in the consciousness, values, and priorities of a critical mass of the society. The first option has failed in Israel’s attempt to remove Palestinians, so I’m not sure why it would work in your anti-Zionist case.

      I was in Or Yehuda, with the 500 who converged from Yehud, Kiryat Ono, Or Yehuda and surrounding area. 300 people took over a MASSIVE highway intersection for HOURS. People sat down until the police backed off…then danced in circles, singing, cheering, clapping, dancing, and chanting. These are working class folks who only the day before were saying things like “I have nothing left to lose” and “I won’t let my kids go to the army for this country”. There was even this very interesting chant (which rhymes with the now standard “The People demand Social Justice), “The People demand Gilad Shalit”. I think it reveals the fact that people understand the government toys around with security and doesn’t aim to actually solve problems. As a man from Yehud expressed, the occupation is just used as a distraction while the government privatizes and attacks the people economically.

      If one really wants the occupation to end, one must account for what it would take to transform Israeli society in order to implement that. I think this movement is the most AMAZING shot at doing that – it has to be, or else we’re left with a grim future here.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Frank

      I was in Beersheva last night, a liberal estimate would say 7k people tops. 15k??? wishful thinking, just like the 100k overall me thinks.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Frank Tamimi Kahn (Twitter @NabiSaleh)

      @Woody I so hope you’re right! I would be totally delighted to be proven wrong by events. Still, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine continues daily in E. Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, Lyyda (Lod)just to cite a few. The demonstrations began against the back drop of the price of cottage cheese & apartment prices not against Zionism. If it evolves into that I will be utterly shocked. These people or at least the overwhelming majority thereof are angry about their possibly being denied the realization of the American Dream I work within the system I acheive my creature comforts. Opposition is not Resistance!

      Reply to Comment
    11. Deïr Yassin

      Without feeling too concrned about the protests in Israel, I still think it’s a good idea to decentralize. “Rotchild Boulevard” sounds too elitist and anti-revolutionary, as a commenter on Mondoweiss noted. From Tahrir Square (‘Liberation’) to Rotchild Boulevard, the ME protests in a nutshell.
      Irhal !

      Reply to Comment
    12. annie

      i remain hopeful, extremely so. things are moving exactly in the direction i was hoping for. i am an optimist. i have faith in both palestinian and israeli society for without it i don’t how peace will be made. i know this sounds crazy but i do, i think transformation will occur somehow. with all my heart i hope i am right. there are really people out here in the world hoping for unity with faith it can happen and i am one of them.

      thanks for a great post.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Sam Smith

      Decentralization is a good idea. At the protest in Beer Sheva, it gave a Bedouin woman a chance to speak before thousands of Jewish protestors about her community’s housing problems and specifically about Al-Araqib.
      And the general movement is also working to weaken Bibi: a poll released today shows he’s dropped to 29% popularity. Irhal!

      Reply to Comment
    14. I lived and worked in Israel with the Zionist dream back in 1970. As I got more involved with the Women’s Movement I learned more and more about Israel’s crimes against the non Jews. Now I stand with the Women in Black in NYC. This latest news and these wonderful photographs fill my heart with hope for peace and justice. I feared this opportunity would never come. I am so happy to see Israelis who feel the way I do. Thanks very very much!

      Reply to Comment
    15. Koshiro

      @ Frank Tamimi Kahn
      More to the point, even if this “movement” did to some extent include Palestinian citizens of Israel, it still wouldn’t do anything for Palestinians in the West Bank.
      I’m as irked as you probably are about Israelis crying their hearts out about their luxury problems while a few miles to the east Palestinians have their homes demolished and their water cut off – with hardly any of the protesters giving a damn.

      But I’ll try to be pragmatic about this: Anything which weakens the state apparatus of Israel in general, and the current government of Israel in particular, is with nigh certainty good for the Palestinians. Even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

      Reply to Comment