Tuesday, March 5, 2002

Take to the streets

Take to the streets
March 5, 2002

I write this article from New York. When I arrived, on Friday morning, on the way from the airport to our Brooklyn office, I passed a movie theatre, which made me feel right at home - they were screening three movies about Israel. One was called "Return to never-never land," the second was called "the Big Fat Lie" and the third, "Once I was a soldier." 

An apt way to remember my homeland.

Since arriving, over the past few days, I've had discussions with numerous people, some of whom were in tears, having the identical question on their lips: What are we going to do - why isn't anyone doing anything? 

It's not easy to sit in Hebron or Jerusalem, or anywhere else in Israel, hearing the constant news - another terror attack, another killing, an entire family wiped out, babies and children among the victims. As hard as that is, it's even more difficult to hear the news from afar - in my case, in New York. First, all the time you feel like you're sitting on pins and needles - what's happening now? Then, there is a sensation of impotence, almost an inability to grasp what is happening. The feeling is horrific. 

Today, it seems that the question is not: why isn't Sharon doing anything? The question is, what can we do to force Sharon to do something? It would be presumptuous of me to say that I have the answer - I don't know anyone who has The Answer. However, I do have an idea. A couple of weeks ago, former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair called for massive civil disobedience by soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, calling on them to refuse to serve in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, in an attempt to force Sharon's hand and determine government policy (note, only, that Ben-Yair, while in office, indicted Moshe Feiglin and Shmuel Sackett for sedition, due to their calling on the Israeli public to practice civil disobedience in response to the signing and implementation of the Oslo accords). Based on Ben-Yair's present call for civil disobedience, aimed at soldiers and reservists, I think we should utilize the same practice. The time has come to take to the streets. 

After each terrorist attack, spontaneously, thousands of Israelis around the country must take to the streets, marching down major thoroughfares, protesting in central intersections, in short, closing up the country. The demonstrations need not last for hours at a time - each protest should be for maybe an hour or two - but they must consistent and they must be nationwide. Sharon and his puppet government must know that for each drop of Jewish blood spilled, life will not go on - another basketball game or football game broadcast on radio and television doping the minds of the masses. Thousands of people, expressing their horror, will close up the country - whether in the morning, afternoon or evening - until the government decides on the inevitable - the dismantling of Arafat's terrorist regime, the expulsion of the terrorist leadership and the return of Israeli forces to all cities in Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza). 

There need be no forceful confrontation with Israeli police, for the simple reason that the sheer numbers of people protesting, in so many different parts of the country, will prevent the police from even attempting to stop the demonstrations. It is also essential that the protests occur, not only in the vicinity of the actual attack, but all around the country, thereby uniting the Israeli population against continued massacres. We are one people and when a child is killed in Jerusalem, the pain reaches Metulla and Eilat equally. Sharon must know that the entire country will boil over, until he gives the orders. 

It is possible that this is not enough. It is probable that the Israeli public will not be able to convince the government, despite mass demonstrations - mass civil disobedience. Therefore, I call on all of you, outside of Israel, to take part in saving our land and our people. We are one people, whether in Jerusalem, New York or Melbourne. During a time of war, we must come together, because our common fate is at stake. For example, can you imagine the impact of the following scenario: airplanes full of Jews fly into Ben Gurion airport. The doors open and passengers flood out. However, rather than entering the airport building leading to passport control, hundreds of people run out to the runways, preventing airplanes from taking off, closing the airport. Sound crazy? Well, it has already been done. Not exactly that way, but it was only a few months ago that the Israeli Histadrut national union, led by Amir Peretz, a member of Knesset, closed the airport during a work dispute. If, for more money, Israelis can justify closing the airport, how much more so to save human lives? 

Of course, it's impossible to guarantee that these actions alone will 'save the situation,' but, usually, one act leads to another and, when people finally start to wake up, the ball will start to roll. Then, with our doing, and with G-d's help, those in leadership positions, with the real ability to give the orders to bring this war to a victorious end, will do so, realizing that the entire country, the entire people, stands behind them, alleviating their fears and worries. 

Israel is supposed to be a democracy - the time has come for people's voices to be heard. 

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