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50,000 Israelis show up at the wrong protest

Imagine what would happen if tens of thousands of Israelis marched on the Qalandia checkpoint demanding that the occupation end immediately.

Tens of thousands of people at a demonstration calling to replace Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, March 7, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Tens of thousands of people at a demonstration calling to replace Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, March 7, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Some 50,000 people showed up on Saturday at a rally demanding change: a change in government, a change in attitude toward the Palestinian issue, a change in the state’s approach to social issues.

The main theme in most of the speeches at Saturday night’s rally in Rabin Square was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lack of strategic vision on the Palestinian issue, and the need to reach an agreement to end the occupation and the conflict. Two former senior security officials, ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amiram Levine, both warned that Israel is heading toward a reality of apartheid if it continues its 47-year-old regime of military rule over 4 million Palestinians.

But if those 50,000 people truly wanted change, if they wanted to unequivocally demonstrate that the occupation must end, then they showed up at the wrong rally.

Earlier that day in Jerusalem, some 1,500 Israeli and Palestinian women marched toward both sides of the Qalandia checkpoint — that separates Jerusalem and Ramallah — with more articulate demands for change: an end to the occupation.

Palestinian women march toward the Qalandia checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers broke up the joint Israeli-Palestinian protest against the occupation, a day before International Women’s Day, March 7, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinian women march toward the Qalandia checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers broke up the joint Israeli-Palestinian protest against the occupation, a day before International Women’s Day, March 7, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Imagine if 50,000 Israelis marched on Qalandia to demand an end to Israel’s undemocratic military rule over Palestinians, an end to the checkpoints that restrict Palestinian freedom of movement while allowing Israelis to drive through unhindered, an end to separate laws and permit regimes that do indeed bring up images of South African apartheid.

Imagine if all of those people who are angry enough about Netanyahu’s lack of vision on the Palestinian issue directed their anger at the occupation itself instead of the leader who administers it, conveniently ignoring that their leader has no vision for ending it either.

Imagine if it became socially acceptable in the Israeli mainstream for Israelis to peacefully march on checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers, demanding that said checkpoints be dismantled and that full equality be Israeli society’s primary goal. Imagine if that were something society as a whole cared enough about to demand.

That is the brilliance and tragedy of the occupation. While half of Israelis consistently express that they want the occupation to end (in the framework of a two-state solution), only a marginalized few, so-called radical activists, take any action against the occupation itself. Instead, the majority blames its leaders — and blaming Benjamin Netanyahu for not ending the occupation is akin to faulting Silvio Berlusconi for not spearheading election finance reform.

If 50,000 Jewish Israelis marched on the Qalandia checkpoint demanding an end to the occupation even Netanyahu would take note, Herzog would change his messaging overnight, and the seeds of change just might have a chance of sprouting.

Until then, the best possible outcome of an “anyone but Netanyahu” approach is a slightly more palatable, slightly more sustainable occupation — not change.

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    1. David Lisbona

      And what if tens of thousands of Palestinians would walk (not march) together without stones or face masks to any of the checkpoints to demand freedom of movement? Think how the foreign media would lap it up. They have a lot more interest than Israelis to do it, but they won’t (unfortunately).

      Reply to Comment
      • Adjsk

        They did, at qalandiya and they got tear gassed. All demonstrations in the p.a are illegal under occupation, no matter how peaceful.

        Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Tear gas, stun grenades and pepper spray would follow, as it did here, unleashed upon a thousand unarmed women by those brave men of the most moral army:

        http://972mag.com/jewish-arab-women-protest-on-both-sides-of-israeli-checkpoint/103865/

        But it’s a good point. You have to get the numbers up to ten thousand or more. But I think then the IDF would still hit them with tear gas and stun grenades and pepper spray and skunk spray and then escalate to rubber bullets and then snipers would take out the leaders with .22 caliber “aimed” at the knees but oops we missed. I’m sure there’s already an operational plan for this. In other words, as in Bil’in and other places the Israelis have become adept at ruthlessly suppressing nonviolent protest, which they fear far more than violent protest; and they would do expert things and pull out the stops to deliberately provoke violence (the aim being to convert nonviolence to violence which IDF knows how to handle) and then start shooting. There might need to be a real massacre to get the outside world to intervene and/or get Mr and Mrs Joe Israeli to wake up and get off their butts.
        But it’s true nevertheless that the Palestinians need to move to the ten to fifty thousand person level. I never said the Palestinians were very competent at this. But theft is theft whether your victim is competent or not at resisting your theft. Also I’m not sure they have more interest than the Israelis do of if the Israelis properly calculated their interests.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Jello

      Yes, imagine 50,000 suicidal idiots marching on Kalandia demanding that terrorists be given unimpeded access to come and blow them up at home and the IDF not try to protect them. Perhaps they can carry ‘Please shoot me. Larry Derfner say it is ok.’ signs.

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        Imagine what the Jewish victims of the Holocaust would think of Israel embracing the FAR RIGHT where FASCISM lies…

        Reply to Comment
        • Jello

          I would imagine their first thought would have been that they would have had a place to run to instead of being slaughtered.

          Reply to Comment
          • Weiss

            After running FROM the Right Wing Fascists in Germany, the Jewish victims of the Holocaust would be horrified to know the place they are “running to” had EMBRACED the Far Right as well…

            How quickly WE Jews forget…

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            They would have been happy to see that their people have power and the capacity to defend themselves, something that whiny little bi@*@es like you are ‘ashamed’ of. If not they would have had a chance to vote in a different government that perhaps would have agreed with you, surrendered to the Arabs and gotten massacred, a policy unlikely to be pursued by people that had just been saved from genocide.

            Reply to Comment
          • Weiss

            Right Wing Fascists with the Power to dominate and destroy ….no thanks

            You really are mentally deranged …

            And yet another Right Wing TRAITOR who never misses an opportunity to EMBARRASS Jews ALL AROUND THE WORLD…

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            Hahahaha. Yeah. They would have preferred to get back on boats and go back to the death camps. You got it moron. Stay where you are because you and other pathetic whiny little bi#?#es are only capable of being ashamed and of being massacred. People like you can only exist because others are willing to defend you.

            Reply to Comment
          • C.C. DeVille

            @Jello,, well said! How ponderous it is to read through such comments when expecting to read intelligent points of view. Only a mutated mind sush as Weiss could come up with such absurdities.

            Reply to Comment
        • Me

          0 to Godwin in two comments

          *Slow clap*

          I also wonder what would Jesus do. You think Jesus and fictional ghosts of people from the Holocaust are politically aligned? I bet they’d vote for Kachlon.

          Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        They won’t shoot Jews, Jello. That’s the whole point. No one buys your “security” bullshit as rationale for why you just gotta keep stealing and subjugating. Nor, despite your fondest fascist wishes, is there going to be WWII-style “unconditional surrender,” an analogy that is revealing since when you use it you identify with what Japan and Germany would have done, not what the US of A did.

        Reply to Comment
        • Me

          “They won’t shoot Jews”

          I think he meant suicidal in the sense that removing the checkpoints would ultimately result in dead Israelis, not that the army would shoot them. I guess spending too much time reading +972 propaganda can wreak havoc on one’s reading comprehension

          “No one buys your “security” bullshit as rationale for why you just gotta keep stealing and subjugating”

          I understand the idea that having checkpoints between you and people who wish to kill you constitutes a leap of reasoning which is just too convoluted and unlikely. but for some reason people do believe it to be a reasonable thing to do. Weird eh?

          Not sure where you were going with that WWII rambling so I hope I wasn’t missing out on some hardcore insights about the conflict.

          PS: my “fondest fascist wish” is for a pony

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Blah blah blah. Just more smug bullshit. If you wanted to work out a secure peace you could you obviously just don’t want to and cherish the opportunities not to. The Kolumn of Jello is fond of saying the Palestinians should just surrender and “negotiate” like the Japanese at war’s end. The analogy is twisted. Maybe I’m confusing the Jello Kolumn with someone else but you fascists all tend to run together in my mind after a while since you all say the same thing.

            Reply to Comment
          • Me

            The article wasn’t about working out a secure peace, I didn’t talk about working out a secure peace. yet you criticize it like it was even a subject. This is about checkpoints, a specific tactical tool, that naturally would not be needed _WHEN_ peace comes but right now is serving a useful purpose. Stop arguing fictional people.

            I have no idea what a ‘Kolumn’, column? I am not Jello and I also happen not to agree with that approach. the term “surrender” doesn’t mean anything in the context of this conflict nor do I think the Palestinians are a coherent enough political entity to surrender even on the most technical level of the term.

            What did I say that was ‘fascist’? or is anything that slightly deviates from your absolute world view automatically earns the title fascist? though I already appreciate being referred to as “you people”.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            You keep bringing it up and I’ll keep saying it. The United States forced Japan to surrender, reject their ideology, commit to demilitarization, allow the stationing of US troops, and effectively ensured that Japan would never pose a threat again.

            And you are calling this approach fascist, so I want you to justify that. Were the Americans fascist when they insisted on this?

            Reply to Comment
        • Jello

          You mean force Japan to surrender, completely demilitarize, ensure a friendly government in Tokyo and leave American soldiers on Japanese territory for 70 years? Yes, that is exactly what I expect the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to be.

          The Americans were fascists then?

          Reply to Comment
          • Allesandro

            I’d like to see international troops raid Israel, wipe out the settlements, completely demilitarize, ensure a not Apartheid government, And they should stay at least for 70 years, until the fascists in Israel give up.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            I am not the one that started with historical analogies here and my analogy is exactly accurate.

            I am still waiting to hear about how the Americans were fascists in insisting that the Japanese surrender and change their historical narrative so as to no longer pose any threat.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            There are differences between all conflicts and I don’t have to pick apart your laundry list nor construct my own as to why the Palestinians are entirely at fault in the conflict.

            All I have to do is to point out that the Japanese had a violently aggressive ideology and lost a war. A condition of ending that war was Japan being forced to abandon that violently aggressive ideology and to accept permanent peace with the victor in the conflict. This was a perfectly reasonable and acceptable condition for ending a conflict and with this you do not disagree which means you have already lost the argument. Now you are going around and shouting that I am a fascist for insisting that this is a reasonable condition to insist on in peace talks with the Palestinians. So, either the Americans were fascist or my conditions are entirely legitimate. You can’t have it both ways.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            How the US dealt with Japan was imperialist, not fascist. Zionism, in addition to being the aggressive ideology in this conflict, also resembles fascism in that it seeks to reconstitute a modern version of an ancient state through military conquest, much as Mussolini wanted to resurrect the Roman Empire.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            This is not a serious reply. “All I have to do is to point out that the Japanese had a violently aggressive ideology and lost a war.” No it is not all you have to do. Not by a long shot. It’s a false, misleading analogy from start to finish. “I don’t have to pick apart…nor construct my own…” Yes you do. You can’t. You didn’t. As I said, you can’t honestly refute it.

            Reply to Comment
          • C.C. DeVille

            Brian, any more red herrings you want to put out here? It’s starting to smell like your moms cooch

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            But one could always get that intellectual heavyweight and refined, classy, manly guy, CC Deville, that officer and a gentleman, what a great Jew, to say something about vaginas or anuses. Or penises if he’s really excited. That’ll show em. What a credit to the Jewish people he is. Miri Regev must be so proud to have him by her side instead of cancers in the body. Let’s keep our purity. The pure Cc Deville.

            Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        Jello just tell me when was the most recent suicide bombing in Israel. Why are you still playing this golden oldie?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Me

      “But if those 50,000 people truly wanted change, if they wanted to unequivocally demonstrate that the occupation must end, then they showed up at the wrong rally.”

      What level of pompous condescending is required to write such a thing with a straight face?

      “with more articulate demands for change: an end to the occupation.”

      ‘Articulate’. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

      “Imagine if all of those people who are angry enough about Netanyahu’s lack of vision on the Palestinian issue directed their anger at the occupation”

      They are more angry about rising cost of living, mismanagement and doing exactly what you do. Using foreign issues to distract people from internal issues, issues which should be the core focus of a governing body. I am not saying the occupation is not an important issue but come on, There is more to the job of running a country than that.

      The issue here is if you have nothing to say except belittle and dismiss what is important to others, if you think the entire state of Israel is merely a result of the ‘occupation’ you are no better than Bibi screaming “Iran Iran” at any issue that might distract the average Israeli from his perpetual duty to frame his entire life in relation to the Arab world, may it be through fear, hate, sympathy or guilt.

      It’s ok to bring up what you think is important, it’s not ok to belittle and dismiss others because they do not share your view.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eliza

        ME: Israelis may well be angry at cost of living issues but the protest that Michael was referring to was a protest aimed at ending the occupation as well as cost of living issues.

        Apart from being somewhat nonplussed at your characterisation of the occupation as a ‘foreign affairs issue’, it seems that Israelis just cannot make the connection between the cost to the State in maintaining the occupation and the lack of funds for social needs. You really cannot separate out the occupation as a side issue.

        If Israel is saved the financial expense of the occupation, if it ceased subsidizing housing over the Green Line, there may just well be more funds for expenditure within Israel Proper.

        I think Michael is spot on; 50,000 thousand or so Israelis marching towards a checkpoint (especially if they were met by 50,000 Palestinians marching towards the same checkpoint) would a far more effective protest.

        Reply to Comment
    4. BOOZ

      IMHO, this article is self-righteous, arrogant and counter-productive in a perspective of ending the occupation.
      Let’ s face it : the non-Zionist left is not and never will be in a position to garner a political majority locally even though they would consider making alliance with the Joint list.
      Omer Man’s main topic is to dismiss as irrelevant the throes of the urban Israeli middle class confronted to the cost of housing, taxation , cost of living and the antagonistic cultural and political atmosphere Bibi and his allies are attempting to impose on the country.
      Michael, I hate to have to tell you this : a Stav Shaffir has done a better job to advance a peaceful solution by revealing how taxpayers money is diverted in favour of a political agenda , than you who are close to blaming Saturday night demonstrators for having attended this rally.

      Meir Dagan’s pronouncements have been more useful than your rant and your dream of a possible “solidarity” with the Palestinians in order to persuade the “Israeli street” that occupation is a burden, and in no way a strategic asset.
      In the meantime, your writings are just an alibi for boycotters and other Jew-haters to push for the suppression of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Max

      The day people like the author of this article and his supporters will truly understand the socialism of Israel, its people´s history and country´s society, the obstacles it faces inwardly as well as outwards, then, and only then one could take this article for a truly neutral and deeply researched journalism. In any other case this remains to be nothing but cheap opinion making with severe errors of content, out of context citations and images that severely contradict the content the author amateurshly tries to proove. Could you imagine 50.000 Eurpeans walking down the streets in Gaza, demanding justice and freedom for Israel´s children that have died in terror attacks? Could you imagine 50.000 palestinians rounding up in Ramallah saying sorry for teaching their children to explode themselves as heroes of war or for killing as many Jews as possible just for the sake of doing so, by running over pregnant women and elderly with stolen cars and stabbing down the survivors with knifes or killing them with saws during prayer? Or by demanding a change of politics from their politicians? Or are they just walking in the wrong direction when calling for the destruction of Israel out of schools financed by the European Union and the USAID?!

      Reply to Comment
    6. Johanan

      Imagine what would happen if 50.000 Palestinians marched demanding an end to terrorism against Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        The Israeli airforce would make an example of them, is what would most likely happen.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Eliza

      So the question is do the 50,000 really want the occupation to end?

      It seems poll after poll suggests that a majority of Israelis want the occupation to end and give the thumbs up for the 2SS. But, this is always tempered by the somewhat sad observation that, given the security situation/no peace partner/whatever, that it is just not possible.

      Easy enough to say you want the occupation to end, when in the next breath you say its impossible. In other words, saying you want the occupation to end, is pretty much just a motherhood statement.

      But even if it were not, the issue then is just how do Israelis want the occupation to end. Transfer? Some sort of virtual citizenship whereby non-Jews remain living in the W/B but are franchised citizens of Jordan? Some other creative solution?

      There is no other conclusion to come to than that Israelis just want to occupation to magically go away, but this does not translate into any substantive support for a truly sovereign independent State of Palestine.

      The 50,000 probably were not at wrong protest at all.

      Reply to Comment
    8. lilly

      It’s quite simple. All those people have no interest in ending the occupation. Or to be more precise: they don’t want to end the advantages and privileges that come with the occupation. They just want the occupation to have a ‘nicer face’ in order for them to be spared the consequences and bad image all over the world due to an unmasked rule of fascism. Very much in line with liberal Zionism. In other word, same shit in a new dress.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Matt

      They wouldn’t go to call for an end to the occupation, because most Israelis know, unlike the foreign, English-speaking readers of 972mag, that the occupation is preventing terrorism. They have memories longer than goldfish and see that the end of the Gaza occupation caused a lot more terrorism, not less, and are able to apply cause and effect.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        The occupation of Gaza has not ended (*) – it is just that Israel withdrew its settlers from the area because securing them was more trouble than it was worth.

        (*) Wikipedia fairly summarizes the situation as follows: “Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza in September 2005, and declared itself no longer to be in occupation of the Strip. However, as it retains control of Gaza’s airspace and coastline, it continues to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly and some countries and various human rights organizations.”

        Reply to Comment
    10. Az

      Media has always played on the front lines of war. Denouncing peace and making big bucks outta the death and sorry of the innocent.
      I wonder if the author was trying to be satirical or sarcastic.

      Reply to Comment
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