10,000 attend Tel Aviv anti-war rally
Famous author warns Gaza operation, rabid nationalism is turning Israel into a 'militant, xenophobic cult'
A few thousand left-wing demonstrators gathered Saturday evening at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to protest what they described as their government's hawkish policies in Gaza and to call for a diplomatic solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.
The rally, organized by Peace Now, was attended by left-wing politicians and cultural luminaries including popular novelist David Grossman, who lamented what he described as the “rise of the forces of darkness" in Israeli society.
Grossman referred to the violent counter protests which have routinely been held opposite peace demonstrations during Israel’s military operation in Gaza and the violent rhetoric inciting to violence against Israeli leftists on social media.
(David Grossman - Three years ago)
"Certain phenomena and processes that have become apparent lately might transform Israel into an extremist, militant sect, xenophobic, isolated and ostracized," Grossman said. "We are losing our home to hatred and bigotry."
"All the while Gazans are being suffocated, we won't be able to breathe freely. Israel ought to present the Palestinians with more inclusive, meaningful offers. Not another local agreement but an extensive plan that would address their needs and treat them as human beings deserving of respect," the author further added. "You can argue about the small print, but what needs to change is the spirit. We ought to remind to those negotiating in Cairo that even if today Gaza residents are our enemies, they shall forever remain our neighbors."
Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On urged the premier -- more popular than ever with the Israeli public following his conduct during Operation Protective Edge -- to step down. "Bibi, you failed. You should hand in your office keys and go home. You rank failure is due to your five year-long refusal to pursue the path of diplomacy, to accept the Palestinian peace Initiative."
The rally came two days after another mass demonstration in which 10,000 people came out to express solidarity with residents of communities along the Gaza border and call on the government to take a firmer stance opposite the Palestinians.
The rally was originally due to take place last week, but was postponed by order of the police, which prohibited gatherings of more than 1,000 people before the ceasefire was called, while the threat of rocket attacks on the city was still in force.