Israel: Report on antiwar rally in Tel Aviv on 26 July

Report by Boris Hammerschlag, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT-Section in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 27.7.2014, www.thecommunists.net and www.the-isleague.com

 

On Saturday night, July 26, we attended an antiwar rally in Tel Aviv organized by the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) and its Hadash front. Initially, towards evening, we were informed that the police had revoked the permit for the demonstration, but at the last minute this decision was rescinded and the rally took place, as planned. While, undoubtedly, fewer participants reached the scene due to the last minute changes, the rally itself was the largest against the Gaza war, in Israel, since the beginning of the military operation, with 5,000-7,000 people taking part. Participants held signs distributed by Hadash, Daam, and some Israeli NGOs. There were three Zionist flags and dozens of red flags.

During the rally, one of our ISL members gave a recorded interview to a blogger from California, and elucidated the ISL/RCIT position on a single socialist state in Palestine, the urgency for BDS campaign led by workers, and other related topics.

The rally was confronted by a much smaller Zionist counter-demonstration. Members of the latter group attempted to physically attack the demonstrators on our side of the barricades, but were held back by the police and anti-fascist activists. During these attacks, one anarcho-communist from UNITY was hit in the head with a metal rod and was evacuated to a local hospital for urgent stitching.

During the rally, speeches against the war were delivered by leaders from Meretz, Hadash, a number of peace-oriented NGOs, and one head of a labor union for university professors. The number of Meretz activists present was very small, a fact which is now reverberating with much criticism on left-wing social media.

After the rally began, the police ordered the organizers to cut it short. They claimed that this was for the security of the demonstrators, as Hamas had broken the ceasefire called on Saturday, and they feared the sending of missiles to Tel Aviv. However, the police’s real motivation was that its forces were once again, as in Haifa a week earlier, outnumbered by the Zionist gangs and they had no desire to be caught in the middle of a giant brawl.

The organizers agreed to the police request and asked the demonstrators to disperse from one end of the site of the rally, so that the police could prevent the Zionists from following them. However, at some point the police presence thinned out, exposing a group of leftists to physical attacks by hooligans bashing them with Zionist flags and spraying them with pepper spray. One of those wielding a can of spray was a uniformed soldier on leave. A few policemen rushed to arrest the soldier, but eye-witness reports relate that these same police officers were later seen shaking the soldier’s hand and releasing him.

We assisted the Hadash contingent in gathering up their signs and flags and load them into one of its leader’s car. These activists needed help because they, too, became surrounded by Zionist thugs. Member of the Knesset Dov Hanin (CPI/Hadash) left the site as soon as the rally ended, but instructed his really large state-funded bodyguard to remain behind and help fend off any Zionist counter-demonstrators who got too close and threatened the Hadash activists.

Reports by ANTIFA say that some demonstrators were targeted and later followed by fascist gangs and attacked near their homes. One of our young women from the ISL youth group had Zionist demonstrators under her window at 01:00, even though her parents had physically locked her in her room so that she couldn’t attend the rally.