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PHOTOS: J14 combines social justice with call for ceasefire

Taking place in the shadow of missile attacks on Israeli towns and bombings in Gaza, the weekly J14 protest saw smallest turnout in over a month

Silent protest by J14 (Tent Protest) movement, Tel Aviv, August 20 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

A mostly-silent march and vigil of about 5,000 people was held in Tel Aviv on Saturday night in an effort to continue the “social justice” protests, while also identifying with Thursday’s terror attacks and the continued warfare that has ensured since. Though not part of the “official” message, many protesters called for an immediate ceasefire, condemning both the Israelis attacks on Gaza and the rockets launched on Israeli towns.

People held signs saying: “In solidarity with the South and Gaza” and “Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies.” Once the demonstration arrived at the beach and people gathered around, some chants were heard calling for a ceasefire, and some skirmishes between right-wing counter protestors and protestors were reported.

One of the tent protest organizers, Stav Shaffir, said in an interview: “We feel a real connection to the south of Israel right now. We know we must continue this protest movement and we cannot give up now. We must stay together and demand a change.”

Fear that the protest wouldn’t survive the recent escalation in violence has been growing for some time. As it entered its 5th week of large-scale protests, the social justice movement experienced internal debates about whether to hold a protest this weekend or not, with calls primarily by the representatives of the National Union of Students declaring they would not take part.

Despite disagreements, the protest organizers insisted the demonstrations must go on, and chose to do a silent march with torches in hand from the Rothschild tent camp to the beach, even as rockets were simultaneously hitting the southern Israeli town of Beer Sheva (where a large protest was held last weekend), claiming the life of one Israeli and injuring two critically. Israel launched several attacks on Gaza over the weekend, where at least 15 people have thus far been killed, among them at least two children. A total of about 70 rockets hit the southern Israel over the weekend. Several more rockets have been fired on Israeli towns on Sunday morning.

Silent protest by J14 (Tent Protest) movement, Tel Aviv, August 20 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

Silent protest by J14 (Tent Protest) movement (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

Sign reads "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies" at J14 protest, August 20 2011 (photo: Oren Ziv/activestills)

Silent protest by J14 (Tent Protest) movement, Tel Aviv (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

"I identify with suffering, not with nation". Sign at Tel Aviv protest (photo: Oren Ziv, activestills)

Daphni Leef, Stav Shaffir and other leaders of J14 protest march in Tel Aviv (photo: Oren Ziv / activestills)

"Bibi exploits his poor and bombs the neighbors' poor. Stop Bombing in Gaza" (photo: Activestills)

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    1. Ismail

      Yes we can live together ,you can make the change

      Reply to Comment
    2. Y.

      This was stupid stupid stupid. Aligning this with the Left fring was a completely unforced error from your side. Fortunately for you, it won’t hurt the protests because noone (well, almost noone) are watching…

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben Israel

      Well, at least everyone can see that the Far Left fringe has taken over the “protest movement”. Red Flags, signs saying “I don’t belong to any nation” and HADASH stickers.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Considering, as this site as documented, that the Israeli authorities haven’t shown any connection between the Eilat attack and the PRC, how do most Israelis feel about the attacks on Gaza? How come only 5000 are coming out to this, with Ben Israel saying that the far left fringe has taken over the J14 with messaging that rejects war and nationalism?

      Reply to Comment
    5. aristeides

      In most countries, “Left” means the demand for a stronger welfare state, for more government subsidies, etc. In Ben Israel’s mind, it obviously means something else.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ben Israel’s point is important on this.

      Calling the 5,000 the J14 movement is a little bit misrepresentative, no?

      If the occupation is forced to be the primary rallying point, then you will KILL the unification of Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Israeli Arab effort that was the soul-changing prospect of the demonstration.

      And, you won’t achieve political change with the 5,000. But, you will with the 500,000. And, the change will be worth it.

      Reply to Comment
    7. It goes without saying that five thousand is a disappointingly small number.

      General principle: align people against an external enemy and they’ll put aside their grievances against the state. Now most Israelis can go back to wishing death on Arabs, not even noticing, the obvious connection between the occupation and the internal victimization of even the Jewish Israelis by their own government.

      Witty is a well-known “Zionist troll” at MondoWeiss.

      He and Ben Israel are symptomatic and indicative. “You’re sacrificing our protest by combining it with a call for justice for Palestians!” But a protest movement that fails to acknowledge and confront the greatest injustice in a society, an intimately related injustice, is not worth very much.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Richard Witty

      I am a social advocate “troll”.

      I regard most of the fixation on the occupation as divisive, compared to the soul-changing impact of the J14 movements that breached and transformed divisions (at least began to), rather than sought to highlight divisions of the anti-occupation focus.

      My theme is to persuade, to change hearts and minds first, to a status of mutual acceptance, rather than mutual hostility in solely political struggle.

      So, I’ve written to all of the writers here, asking:

      “Are you happy or sad that the J14 demonstrations have been functionally silenced by the events of the past week?

      The emphasis on social development, incorporating much common cause between Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Arab Israeli communities on shared issues, has largely ended (at least in the press, including in 972), while the emphasis on the political, anti-occupation and anti-militarism (and anti-terrorism) theme has been restored to front pages.

      350,000 demonstrated against internal social injustices/for internal social justice, while 5.000 demonstrated against the occupation (and called itself the real J14 movement).

      I’m an American, outside. I don’t know intimately what was going on at the J14 demonstrations, nor do I fully understand the experience of being an Israeli nor a Palestinian (in Israel, in the West Bank, in Gaza, nor in diaspora).

      Richard Witty

      PS. Thank you authors that did include your contact information on the site. Could you pass on this e-mail to those that don’t have contact info, Dahlia, Yossi, Yuval, “

      Reply to Comment
    9. I second Witty, above.
      I have no idea how much potential has been destroyed through the occupation and blockade/attacks on Gaza. But a new place to stand, which is what the +150,000, well, hinted at, may well ultimately allow one to face occupation in a new way. We all know how to hate and designate an enemy. Semms like J14 was fumbling a way out of that. Maybe still is.
      But I too am an outsider American. To live daily with your news events–well, we tend to not allow that, over here.

      Reply to Comment