Is this the beginning of a recovery of sanity by Israeli society? It is much too early to answer this question, but Saturday’s anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv was the first mass event in protest of Israel’s bloody operation against the people of Gaza. Between four and five thousand people expressed their opposition to the Israeli aggression, but also their worry about the dangerous course that Israeli society has entered this last month.
In fact, I believe the fate of Israel was the main concern of the majority of demonstrators.
While the core of the demonstrators was the “usual suspects”, i.e. activists of the movement against occupation, I identified many women and men who don’t usually come to such kind of events, people who are closer to the national consensus. Their main concern is that the old consensus does not exist anymore, and a new frightening voice is taking front stage.
In harmony with quite many other Israeli journalists, I use the name “fascist” to characterize this new political force. Like other fascist movements in modern history, Israeli fascism is trying to terrorize opposition movements and voices. And the actions of the Israeli fascists have indeed succeeded in spreading fear, including among veteran activists.
For an important segment of Israeli society, “their” #Israel is at risk, an Israel which tries to keep an image of democracy and liberalism, not a brutal state which is importing into its own society the methods it uses against the colonized Palestinian population. This image has seriously eroded in the last three decades, but for a strong minority it was still important to maintain it.
Suddenly, they are looking in the mirror and discovering they are monsters. Somehow, after three weeks of a murderous operation, comprised of war crimes and over 1000 dead, mostly civilians, they try to dissociate themselves from what they see in the mirror.
The importance of Saturday’s demonstration must be found, however, in the very fact that it was a demonstration against fear: “We are not afraid” said the people in Tel Aviv, or, at least, “we are able to overcome our fear”.
In a way Israel is involved in a double war: a war against the Palestinian people and a war for the future of the state. Saturday’s demonstration in Tel Aviv is a late, much too late, attempt to save a certain image of Israel, an Israel which doesn’t exist.