Solomon Anker reports from Tel Aviv
The attack by the Israeli military in general received the support of the majority of the Israeli public. This is not a shock because also the Gaza War (2009) and the Lebanon War (2006) received similar backing. However the difference is that the minority opposed to the attack on the Flotilla is much larger and, even better far more politically active in opposing the government.
In general the Israeli Communist Party, Anarchists and Arab Nationalists oppose with street action and protest the immoral actions of the IDF. However, significantly, the Social Democratic Party (Meretz), Peace Now and a number of NGOs decided to finally – for possibly the first time in history – protest against the actions of the State.
A few hours after the attack against the Flotilla, emails flooded the inboxes of people with links to left-wing organizations and SMSs were sent to friends and friends of friends about demos taking place. Thousands attended demos including a significantly higher number of Jewish Israelis than expected.
Today, 5th June, where already a scheduled protest against the 43rd Year of the Occupation was taking place, far more people decided to come along to call for the end of the military occupation than usual. These new people mainly came from the soft peace organizations whom are super scared of being criticized by the Israeli right wing and of being branded traitors. The Meretz Party receives regular abuse and threats from Ultra Nationalists and is mocked by the Liberals too. However, the heat of the situation got many of these to finally take to the streets and protest.
The Meretz Party and Peace Now are often described as “Zionist-Fascism with a human face”. Arab Nationalist and many foreign Marxists have believed that Meretz are more dangerous than the right-wing as they trick people into believing Zionism can be moral. Yet this week their members took a big step to protest directly against the Israeli State and in their words showed full compassion for the people of Gaza.
At today’s demo in Tel Aviv around 10,000 people attended. These numbers are very impressive for a country of 7 million where there is such powerful opposition from both the far-right national-religious groups and the mainstream. The liberal Palestinian nationalist groups in Israel did not support the demonstration, because Israeli flags were present. However, the Arab left came in force including many Arab Socialists who wore their Arab identity proudly while marching together with Jewish people. At the demo the Palestinian Kafir was widely present and Palestinian flags too. Furthermore Arabic was spoken at the podium of the demonstration. These seem like nothing radical from a European perspective but for the Middle East they are revolutionary and break the barriers of both anti-Jewish hatred and anti-Arab hatred.
Altogether the actions of the Israeli military have given a boost to the left-wing and have really harmed the Israeli State. Signs of the occupation breaking completely were present when after the demonstration a massive fight almost broke out between 200 Ultra-Nationalists and the left-wing protesters. The leftists refused to be intimidated and sung together “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” The Israeli police needed to bring in huge force including a row of police on horses to prevent a fight. The self-righteous Israeli liberals -who are only capable of mocking the Ultra-Nationalists and also mocking the left-wing while thinking they are the centre of the earth as they live their empty and meaningless life in the cafés of north Tel Aviv – were totally silent.
However these self-righteous Tel-Avivians and the mainstream media of Israel will eventually have to break and oppose the occupation. Not out of any humanity or compassion for the suffering of the Palestinians, but purely out of a capitalist self-interest, because a bad reputation for Israel abroad or fighting on the streets between left and right will be bad for business and a little embarrassing for their self-image. Once they start calling for the withdrawals of the IDF from Gaza and the West Bank, the occupation will be on the verge of ending.