Israelis most often are as out-of-touch with reality as Americans - sleepwalking through their daily lives instead of becoming activist to improve them.Saturday night was different - the exception proving the rule. Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied against Netanyahu's appalling leadership in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square under the banner "Israel Wants Change."
The New York Times and Washington Post ignored it. The Wall Street Journal published a woefully short three-paragraph AP report. WaPo apparently thought a Palestinian injuring five Israelis was more important than a major anti-Netanyahu mass protest. A good idea was ruined by choosing the wrong keynote speaker - former Mossad chief Meir Dagan. He knowingly lied saying:
"No one denies that Iran's nuclear program is a threat, but going to war with the US is not the way to stop it. Israel is a country surrounded by enemies…"
- Fact: Dagan's own Mossad denies an Iranian threat. It called its nuclear program legitimate with no military component.
- Fact: Israel is nuclear armed and dangerous. It has hundreds of nuclear weapons and long-range delivery system capability.
- Fact: It warns it'll use every weapon in its arsenal if threatened. It'll risk incinerating millions.
- Fact: Israel's only enemies are ones it invents. It faced no external threat since the 1973 Yom Kippur war - the only one it nearly lost.
Dagan continued saying "I am afraid of our leadership. I am afraid of a loss of determination, of a loss of personal example."
"I am afraid of hesitancy and stalemate, and I am afraid above all of the crisis of leadership, a leadership crisis that is the most severe ever here. Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister for six years straight. Six years in which he has not led a single genuine process of change to the face of the region or the creation of a better future. On his watch, Israel conducted the longest (military) campaign since the War of Independence.”
Dagan pointedly asked Netanyahu:
“Why should you be responsible for our fate if you are so afraid to take responsibility? I am not a politician and not a public figure, and I came here this evening without personal aspirations, not looking for a position and without a grudge or bitterness. We deserve leadership that will set new priorities. It has long not been a question of left wing and right wing. It’s a question of a path, a vision, a different horizon. We are at a critical period for our future and security." Netanyahu's agenda is "destructive…for the future and security of Israel…There is a danger…and that is why I (came) to speak."
Fact: Dagan was a former high-level Israeli official. He very much has an agenda. He failed to explain it - or what new priorities he wants set.
His job as Mossad chief was working for Israeli regional dominance - including assassinating anyone challenging it, staging false flags and committing other crimes too serious to ignore. He represents everything ordinary people everywhere should reject. Why rally organizers invited him to speak they'll have to explain.
Michal Kesten-Keidar's husband, Dolev, was killed in last summer's Gaza war. Her comments were important to hear. "How many women like me will lose their (loved ones) until we reach (a peace) agreement," she asked?
"An entire election campaign has gone by without remembering the blood that was shed over the summer. But last summer, I lost the love of my life during the war, and I came here to request of you, when you go to cast your ballots, to vote for who will prevent the next war, for who is prepared to do everything possible to prevent more deaths. Mr. Prime Minister, it's impossible to speak all the time about Iran and to turn a blind eye to the bloody conflict with the Palestinians which costs us so much blood."
Keidar is a Women Wage Peace (WWP) activist. A previous article discussed the group's mission to end decades of Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It hopes to achieve a durable, sustainable equitable peace. Keidar and other WWP activists believe no one else should die because rogue politicians choose war over peace.
They want Israel governed by responsible politicians. They want decades of conflict ended once and for all. Rally organizers and other speakers want "normal and sane" Israeli life. They want Israel at peace with all its neighbors. "If someone doesn't care if there are wars, why should he care about the cost of living," asked Keidar?
"I do not accept the claim that there is no one to vote for so don't vote, or the claim that the Israeli public is fated to live with war. The leadership has responsibility to those combat soldiers and a responsibility to prevent the killing."
Netanyahu's Likud-led regime lied about Saturday's rally. A statement claimed it's "part of a campaign orchestrated by the left (and) funded by millions from abroad."
"The aim is to change the nationalist Likud government headed by Netanyahu with a left wing government headed by (Tzipi) Livni and (Isaac) Herzog which will be supported by the Arab parties."
It added ludicrous comments about Israelis knowing only Netanyahu can stop Iran's (nonexistent) nuclear threat and establishment of a West Bank "terror state."
Saturday's rally was 10 days before March 17 general elections. Netanyahu is in a close race to remain prime minister. New poll numbers show it's too close to call. Netanyahu's Likud and Herzog's Zionist Union are virtually even in public support.. Netanyahu's congressional rant did nothing to boost his chances. As of Friday, around one-fifth of Israeli voters remain undecided.
Next Saturday, March 14, a pro-Netanyahu rally is planned. It remains to be seen how well attended. The evening after his March 3 congressional rant, thousands protested in New York outside Israel's midtown Manhattan consulate. The US/Canadian Central Rabbinical Congress organized the event. Signs and banners read:
- "Bibi - don't drag American Jewry into your provocative policies."
- "Bibi Netanyahu does not speak for us."
- "We are ably represented. We don't need a Bibi-sitter."
Rabbi David Neiderman addressed rally participants saying "(w)hen Netanyahu professes to speak on our behalf, we have to speak out and say this is not the case."
"Stop speaking on our behalf and directing us what to do," he added. "(N)o foreign government can represent us or speak on our behalf."
Other speakers were harsher - calling Netanyahu "Haman (the book of Esther's main antagonist)" and "Amalek (the book of Exodus nation attacking Israelites fleeing Egypt)." They accused Netanyahu of stoking anti-Semitism. One speaker said he risked world Jewry's well-being for his own political self-interest.
Another said "(w)e are here to disassociate ourselves from the dangerous statements" he made - "put(ting) Jews in danger." Social injustice is another major issues for most Israelis. Protest tents are erected on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Blvd. A sign read:
"We're coming out of the closet and moving into national housing" - referencing increasingly unaffordable housing costs for millions of Israelis.
Another sign read " 'Life itself' is dying on the street." Housing, employment, healthcare and education are major electoral issues.
Rothschild Blvd. activism reminds Israelis that electoral bombast has nothing to do with their daily struggle to get by. Israel and America are the developed world's most unequal countries. Shay Cohen's Facebook comment reflects how millions of Israelis feel, saying:
"So here I am, suddenly 40-years-old. I have a wonderful family, lots of good in my life, but everything is still too expensive, and buying an apartment in the area we live in seems like a faraway dream. We all are truly in need of a revolution in our government's social and economic policy. (We need to) shout and remind everyone who we are and what we demand."
Cohen co-founded Koach l'Ovdim (Democratic Workers Organization). He and others are involved in struggling for long denied social justice - basic needs increasingly unaddressed, notably unaffordable housing. Millions of Israelis "work hard day and night, but can't hold their heads up high," he said.
People need to start protesting, he stressed. The best time is pre-election. Change takes time. It begins by electing responsible officials. Israelis are hamstrung like Americans. Their choices are largely between death by hanging or firing squad. Both nations need revolutionary change - a total makeover. Scattered reforms won't work.
Governance in both countries is too corrupted to fix. Imperial madness they represent may kill us all. Sweeping change is needed more than ever before. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.
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