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WATCH: Israelis launch world protest day with solidarity demo on Syrian border

(Update – the video is now fully subtitled.)

Today is October 15 – the day slated by dozens of local social justice and democracy movements to try and hold a worldwide, truly global demonstration. Protests are taking place in an astonishing 951 cities in 85 countries, including, obviously, New York, Tel Aviv, Cairo, London. But the most heart-warming images so far today come from the small, crisis-stricken town of Kiryat Shmona.

Kiryat Shmona, Israel’s northernmost city, is effectively a frontier town, usually in the news either as a habitual target for Hezbollah rockets or for its rather dismal socio-economic state; and it also boasts one of the most steadfast and vocal outposts of the J14 social justice movement, holding on to its tents even as protest camps around the country were evicted or forced to regroup. Early (very early) this morning, the Kiryat Shmona activists decided to launch their global protest day by expressing solidarity with the Syrian protesters. They marked sunrise on the Syria-Israel border, released balloons with messages of support into Syria, and have just uploaded the video below.

I want to highlight the very first Hebrew statement made by one of the activists in the film:

“We want our regimes to stop putting barriers between us, because we want to link up with our brothers and sisters in Syria, and finally achieve peace and justice for the region.”

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    1. Sylvia

      “here’s the very first Hebrew statement made by one of the activists in the film:

      “We want our regimes to stop putting barriers between us, because we want to link up with our brothers and sisters in Syria, and finally achieve peace and justice for the region.””
      In Hebrew with a detectable Russian accent. In other words, none of the “activists” are original residents of Kiriat Shmona like this post attempts to assert.
      But what would 972 have to say without lies and deception?
      The presence of the Italians “activists” suggests to me that it is a Hamas initiative.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Luca

      it’s a little early to say this is the most heart warming image. i mean really, are you following all the demonstrations?
      to me it looks like a bunch of 6 dropkicks who have nothing better to do, and have dragged along their kids who are thinking “why did we come all this way just to let go of our balloons? i wanted to keep my balloon!”
      why on earth are they in a tent?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Dimi Reider

      Jesus, Sylvia.

      A. Kiryat Shmona has a substantial Russian population, as, indeed, do most peripheral cities in Israel. You’re invited to explain your rather strange racism regarding original and non-original residents.

      B. “The presence of the Italians “activists” suggests to me that it is a Hamas initiative.” That’s just weird on a Pamella Geller kinda level. Explain how you deduce all and any Italian activists are directed by Hamas.

      Reply to Comment
    4. @sylvia – that is either the most racist comment i’ve seen from you yet, or the most ignorant. either way, it’s a lose-lose situation.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jalal

      @Ami, what about the best “Laugh Out Loud” comment? because I just did! @Sylvia

      Reply to Comment
    6. Sylvia

      Racist? the cat calling the kettle black?
      By original residents I mean those who were sent there in the fifties, long before the Assad family took power.
      Nowhere in your post is there mention even once that the 15 October was designated as “#OccupyEverywwhere” Day.

      As to Italian ‘activists” relation to Gaza since the murder of Vittorio in particular, references are widely available. To those Italians, gaza has beecome a religion and “Vik” its Messiah. You should get out a little more often and see what’s happening in other linguistic worlds.

      I don’t understand the relation to Pamela Geller but you probably mean by that something negative. Why don’t you tell that to this Italian News Agency?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Sylvia

      To call that “Israeli/Syrian solidarity” is not stretching the truth in your opinion?
      For your information, the Syrians have already complained about Hamas being behind those demonstrations of solidarity.
      Racist? The cat calling the kettle black.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Deïr Yassin

      Contrary to Sylvia, I can’t hear any Italians among the activists. The girl in the beginning who says ‘buon giorno, ti voglio bene’ is clearly NOT Italian, and the guy in the end says “Queremos justicia social” which is Spanish !! How come Sylvia who says she’s Sephardic can’t hear that ?

      Exceptionally, I’ll have to agree with Sylvia when she states that “none of these ‘activists’ are original residents of Kiriat Shmona”

      Indeed, as Kiriat Shmona was built on the ruins of al-Khalisa, a multi-secular Bedouin-village. After the fall of Safed, the inhabitants of al-Khalisa fled, the village was destroyed, and today many of its inhabitants are living in Tel al-Zaatar refugee camp in Libanon.

      That said, is it supposed to convince any Syrians when the activists say “We the people of Israel support the people of Syria” ?

      We know what ‘the people of Israel’ think in their majority concerning the Golan and the Palestinian issue, at least according to the way they vote.
      John Lennon’s “Imagine there’s no country, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill and die for”, does that mean these activists agree with a One State solution or even better the resurrection of Bilâd al-Shâm (Greater Syria) ?
      Or is is just another Hasbara-spin: ‘we want peace, peace for peace, not peace for land, not justice, only peace. (We’ve already stolen the land)’.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Sylvia

      Deir Yassin
      What took you so long? Did you have to look it up?
      I just knew that as soon as I said “original inhabitants” you’d show up with El Khalisa.
      So what did you occupy today?

      Reply to Comment
    10. Palestinian

      We want to link up with everybody in the region, and finally achieve peace and justice for the region after we return to our homeland , thats justice.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Deïr Yassin

      Yeah, I’m grateful, Sylvia, that you gave me the occasion to mention another of the more than 400 Palestinian villages destroyed in ’48.
      If you ever feel like reading about it, you could start out with “Sous Israël, la Palestine” (as your’re francophone, but apparently can’t hear the differenct between Spanish and Italian …) by another Sephardic Jew, Ilan Halevy, former vice Secretary of State under Abbas and who declares himself ‘100% Jewish, and 100% Arab’.
      “What did I occupy today” ? As my Jewish neighbours went off to live in some kind of hut, I took advantage of their absence to occupy their appartment, bigger than mine. I think I’m going to stay here….

      Reply to Comment
    12. Palestinian

      and btw whats يهمني ممناك؟ is there a word Meemnak ? it is possible I no longer read my language well ?There is a question , were they on the Israeli Syrian border or occupied Golan and other Syrian land ?

      Reply to Comment
    13. @sylvia – obviously, your knowledge of idioms is in need of repair as well. I believe it’s “the pot calling the kettle black”, but nonetheless, it would have been more appropriately used if either I or Dimi were racists. Since we have never said anything racist, at least not in this post, yet you have indeed, I believe you should try to find a different idiom for your next comment. Good luck, and try to have fun with it.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Sylvia

      I’ll look for it, Deir, although his “100% Jewish. 100% Arab” sounds kind of suspicious to me. But I am not afraid of truthful evidence.
      Ami – Being a non-native speaker of English, I was tempted to take your word for it. But I looked it up in Google and lo and behold, there are countless variations on what calling the kettle black, all legitimate. “Cat calling the kettle black” returned 24000 entries (I can assure you that I wasn’t the one who entered them).

      Reply to Comment
    15. A

      Want peace with Syria? Well they don’t want f–ing balloons, they want their land. Give back the occupied Syrian Golan!

      Reply to Comment
    16. Sylvia

      Syria’s problem is an internal problem, a social, ethnic and religious problem. Anyone who thinks it’s like Tunisia or Cairo or J14 is just clueless.

      Reply to Comment
    17. A

      I actually can’t stop laughing as i watch this video, “Imagine” by John Lennon was the perfect song choice. Instead of dreaming that balloons will bring you acceptance from the Syrian people, fight against the Zionist regime that maintains control through colonization, racism, and fascism, without fighting to end ethnocracy, you are a joke and a hasbara stunt.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Acker

      I found this video and I loved it.
      I think if that would be the spirit of the young people in the Middle East then peace would really had a chance to come.

      Reply to Comment
    19. AYLA

      Thanks, @Palestinian, for writing, “We want to link up with everybody in the region, and finally achieve peace and justice for the region after we return to our homeland , thats justice.” @Sylvia: omg. new levels. People calling this Hasbera–I don’t think you understand the Hasbera machine very well; this isn’t their thing. This is well-meaning Israelis, who are guilty only of being naive about the ways in which their honest concern about/for Syrians–and their honest longing to all join together in a common cause, despite our governments–would be received in Syria (and, apparently in Comment Thread Land). I suspect that A’s response closely mirrors the true Syrian response, as it is similar to the majority Egyptian response after the Israeli Rally for Love at the Egyptian Embassy. I suspect that many Israelis don’t understand that they can’t talk to any of their neighbors without talking directly about Palestine/Palestinians, for starters. Still, I’m heartened by this sincere, heartfelt demonstration, even if it will take a lot more than balloons to repair relations between Israel and Syria. It’s not so bad for our neighbors to see, simply, another face of Israel, when so many (equally true) violent images circulate every day. I only wish more people had known about this demonstration ahead; I’m sure they would have joined. Thanks for covering it, @Dimi. I’m new to your work, and I love it.

      Reply to Comment
    20. RichardNYC


      Reply to Comment
    21. AYLA

      yeah, @Richard. They should grow up and harden their hearts, and come up with a lot of facts to justify that hardening. (they aren’t making national policy based on “arms are for hugging”; they’re simply expressing themselves).

      Reply to Comment
    22. AYLA

      also, I believe–based on what I experienced talking to Egyptians after a similar rally in Tel Aviv directed to them–that people in Syria would be touched by this sincere message. They wouldn’t simply kiss and make up; they’d say, Okay, so what are you going to do about X,Y, and Z (Golan, Palestine, etc.). And there is a huge stigma against normalizing with Israelis, so publicly, there would be a lot of hateful comments like the one that seems to have been removed by H… But I have to believe that many would be touched none-the-less, because these people mean what they say. And really, doubters–look at them. Do you want to go through life feeling the way you feel, or the way they feel?

      Reply to Comment
    23. RichardNYC

      Maybe some Syrians would feel sincere warmth, but not enough. I don’t think the ppl in this vid are doing any harm, I just think its silly. I do go through life feeling the way they feel – I just don’t express love for brainwashed people who are programmed not to reciprocate. I think caring about humanity means being pragmatic, and not wasting time on emotional masturbation. 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    24. AYLA

      @Richard–I see. So all Syrians are ‘brainwashed, programmed people’, and, you do go through life with an open-heart. I dunno–a population risking their lives for freedom doesn’t seem so asleep/programmed to me… Ever think maybe we’re all brainwashed, from limited narratives? We all need a different kind of brainwashing; the kind that washes from our brains all we think we know, and empties us to see/hear/learn what true. And what’s true is often deep below the surface of what people say, especially if they’re espousing hate. under there is some deep hurt, and yearning (to be seen/heard. to have one’s pain acknowledged and to have those who caused it apologize. connection. home. love). We’re all the same.

      Reply to Comment
    25. RichardNYC

      “We’re all the same.”

      Reply to Comment
    26. AYLA

      @Richard–how many Syrians do you know, personally? And based on your actual knowing of them, how are they inherently different from you?

      Reply to Comment
    27. AYLA

      @Richard–the only thing naive about this demonstration–or what it represents–is that it is naive to think that Israel would not have to come to Syria with a lot more than love and balloons in order to begin the reparation work necessary to begin some semblance of reconciliation. That, however, is not a good reason for these folks–who I’d like to befriend–should not do what they did. Because, per the so-called ‘programing’ and ‘brainwashing’ to which you refer, our Arab neighbors see violent images of Israeli soldiers circulating daily (real photos, true images, if without context like most news). Obviously, Israelis can’t visit Syria at this time, not even those who are Syrian like one of my close friends here who would love to go. And yet, through social networking, we have the relatively new power to contribute to the images / messages circulating with equally true, positive images / messages. You can try to naive-away the love, and stay stuck in fear (which in you doesn’t seem to lead to hate, but, rather, indifference or paralysis). But cynicism is really, really boring.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Alas, Ayla, cynicism is really, really effective. But the only chance I see for the future is the insanity of hope. There are other people like you out there. A hard fact to explain, but true.
      The Richards reply because, well, they’re slightly worried about that….

      Reply to Comment
    29. RichardNYC

      I don’t know why you feel it necessary to speculate about my feeling (is it because you don’t have the facts on your side). I don’t live in the middle east and don’t plan to move there – so I’m not afraid. If anything, I would like there to be peace so I can visit Syria and Lebanon. One doesn’t have to be cynical at all to believe that gestures like this will have 0.000 impact on what happens between Israel and Syria. How many Syrians do I personally know? It doesn’t really matter because anecdotes aren’t evidence. It doesn’t matter how many Syrians you know either.

      Reply to Comment
    30. RichardNYC

      to answer your question: some of the Syrians I know are like me, in terms of values. And some of them are brainwashed to love Assad and to deny Israelis’ humanity.

      Reply to Comment
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