[Marxism] "Disarm the Settlers!": demonstration in Israel

Lueko Willms l.willms at jpberlin.de
Mon Mar 7 00:51:00 MST 2005

   Adam Keller of Gush Shalom (Israeli "Peace Block") reports about  
mobilizations in Israel for the disarmament of the settlers:

--------- schnipp -----------------------------------------

[]  Take away their guns - Now! Adam Keller report

    Hebrew  & photo:

March 6, 2005

The media attention was exceptional. Press photographers and TV
cameras kept arriving at the square, completing with each other for
the best angles. Indeed, the organizers had taken pains to inform the
whole spectrum of the printed and electronic media - but there were
many past occasions when the media had been informed of a
demonstration well in advance and proved plainly uninterested.
However, today's slogans ("Take away the settlers' guns" and chanting
"No surrender/to settler terror!") seem to have touched a raw nerve.

Jerusalem's Paris Square, just around the corner from the closely-
guarded Prime Minster's residence, has been the scene of numerous
political actions and protests. Since the beginning of the first
Intifada in 1988, it was - and is - the scene of the weekly Woman in
Black vigils.

For the past months, barely-veiled threats of violence were made by
the settler leaders, whose insistence to stay put is motivated by
their ongoing denial of the occupation reality and megalomanic dreams
of being the God-ordained owners of the land. Their effort to block
the Disengagement for Gaza by various political gambits so far failed
and  acts of overt violence on the ground are on the increase. Also
anonymous death threats started to flood the postboxes of  prominent
politicians. Furthermore, there are persitent  reports of settlers
busily erecting semi-military structures to coordinate their militant
opposition - even to the drafting of former senior military officers
so as to create their own "general staff".

The peace movement  needs to address this situation. But it needs to
address it as an independent force rather then as hangers-on of Sharon
- a man which we in no way ceased to distrust, all the more so as he
makes no effort to conceal his plans and efforts for extensive land
grab on the West Bank even while preparing to withdraw from Gaza.

Then, "Ometz Le'sarev" (Courage to Refuse) approached ourselves of
Gush Shalom, the Women's Peace Coalition, Machsom Watch and some
student groups to work together on the Settler Disarmament Campaign.
After quite a few signatures were already collected via the new
website (www.taketheirguns.org) the campaign officially kicked off

So it came about that we were standing there, facing the congested
traffic with our signs: "One Army is quite enough", "The writing is on
the wall", "Never again a November 4 [date of the Rabin
assassination]".   After about a quarter of an hour,  the chanting was
beginning to slack off - when, as if on cue,  a handful of counter-
demonstrators showed up on the other side of the street and burst out
with "Peace Now - a knife in the back! Peace Now - a knife in the
back!".  On our side, the chanting about settler terrorism immediately
redoubled in volume. Organizer Tom Mahger grabbed the megaphone and
called at the startled opponents: "It will not avail you, not at all!
The people want to get out of Gaza, out of all the territories, and we
will - and your settler friends will be disarmed, they will be
disarmed before they mange to wreak havoc with their guns!".

Circulating among the protesters were youngsters of the Labourite
Youth Movements, distributing leaflets: "Israel Gets Out of  Gaza -
giant rally at March 19 on the Rabin Square. Come one, come all!  Help
change the public atmosphere, put a peace sign on your balcony.
Details from daniel at peacenow.org.il".

Another group of youths, who plan to refuse their forthcoming military
call-up, had elaborate hand-painted signs: "Put not your trust in
guns. A gun-holder makes himself the legitimate target of other gun-
holders!" and "Release immediately the pacifist and hero Yahel Avigur"
(Avigur has been incarcerated at Military Prison 4  a week ago, for
having refused to put on a military uniform).

Meanwhile, several of the Ecumenical Accompaniers - international
volunteers sent by the World Council of Churches for three-month terms
in threatened Palestinian towns and villages - arrived to take up
signs and tell of the situation on the ground. "At Jayyus, the army is
not allowing the Palestinians to cross the Fence with their tractors.
They just can't cultivate their land" told Rie, a young Danish woman.
Another activist told of the continuing struggle at Beit Surik: "Every
day we go with the villagers to where they are building it. The
Supreme Court made some changes in the route of the fence, but it did
not help all of the  Beit Surik farmers. When we come near, they shoot
tear gas and concussion grenades. Perhaps in July the army will really
be fighting the settlers in Gaza. Now they fight the Palestinians, and
anyone who tries to help the Palestinians in a non-violent struggle".

Settler Disarmament Coalition:
Tom Mahger  +972-54-6201170  tom at seruv.org.il
Hagit Ya'ari  +972-54-2002042 hagity at unik.co.il
Adam Keller +972-50-6709603, +972-305565804 info at gush-shalom.org

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Lüko Willms
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