All...agreed to say fully that the demonstration was not a demonstration of hatred for the State of Israel or the IDF but, rather, was a demonstration that focused on the profound fear as to the place to which the government was leading the State of Israel.
Dear Gadi [Taub],
After a week in which only one aspect of the Zionist voice was aired--unquestioning support of the government's policies--last Saturday night a different Zionist voice issued from the public. For a few hours, all the websites and radio and television stations reported about the message that emanated from the heart of Israeli society, a message of deep concern about the government's policies, the continued control over the Palestinians and Israel's continued isolation and its becoming a pariah state.
The State of Israel is currently at an historic crossroads. Outwardly, it faces a sweeping international boycott, the destabilization of the relations we have with our good friends and a potential military conflagration with the Arab world. Inwardly, Israeli democracy is in an accelerated process of crumbling, and waves of hatred exacerbated by nationalistic urges have gained control over the street. In the face of all this, thousands of courageous Israelis understood that there is no option right now except to stand straight and tall and to head out into the streets.
A letter that you wrote to me in your blog on Sunday attacked the left wing demonstration in Tel Aviv, which was "hijacked" to use your word, by radical organizations that act against Israel. You wrote that in practice, we had only helped the Netanyahu government survive. However, two days after the demonstration I am still proud and happy that Peace Now chose to take part in the sole event that has created thus far an optimistic and sane message for the audience in Israel and in the world at large.
On Saturday night thousands of concerned patriotic citizens gathered, clasping Israeli flags in their hands. They gazed on in despair at the turn of events and were not prepared to resign themselves to Israel's suicide. By their side stood also representatives of the Arab sector, Israeli citizens from the north and the Triangle, who are forced to cope every day with mounting extremism. I believe that instead of pushing the moderates among the Israeli Arabs into the arms of Balad, on the one hand, and the Islamic Movement, on the other, we in the Zionist Left need to know how to integrate them to the public struggle on behalf of the two-state solution.
Any organization that is prepared to identify with the messages of the demonstration and with pointing an accusatory finger at the government and demanding that it act to achieve the two-state solution, was invited to participate. All of the partners agreed to say fully that the demonstration was not a demonstration of hatred for the State of Israel or the IDF but, rather, was a demonstration that focused on the profound fear as to the place to which the government was leading the State of Israel. Had you come dressed in blue and white, you would have heard slogans, such as "we love the soldiers, we're ashamed of the government."
All of the groups that were party to the demonstration, even if some of them are not self-declared Zionists, constitute a part of the camp that perceives the ongoing occupation as catastrophic for Zionism and the State of Israel. As you know, anti-Zionist organizations such as Balad, United Arab List and the Coalition of Women for Peace did not take part in the demonstration, and that was hardly a coincidence. The boundaries of the messages did not conform to those that seek a return of refugees into the State of Israel and the attainment of a single, bi-national state solution between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
As to tactical arguments, like you, I too am engaged in political activity not for the sake of God and not to clear my conscience. I am politically active with the intention of changing and influencing, and that is why I consider questions about image and message to be important questions that need to be seriously addressed. I agree with you that the presence of Palestinian flags at the demonstration in Tel Aviv was a tactical mistake that played into the hands of those who want to undermine the legitimacy of our message among the majority of Israeli society. If you and your colleagues had joined me and other members of Peace Now holding Israeli flags, I have no doubt that the picture would have been better.
Gadi my friend, the near crisis is also a great opportunity. More and more people are becoming skeptical of the right wing fulmination and want to hear a sane and moderate voice, a moment before it is too late. The magnitude of the hour at hand obliges us all to set forth and take action. There is room for all of us in the left wing's orchestra, each one with his own instrument. Some times we need to play a solo and other times the strength of the orchestra lies in the joint performance, which expresses power and relevance. The moment of truth has arrived. This truly is a time of emergency. We need to act both together and separately, in conjunction and in parallel so as to create a different message that will receive the support and trust of the Israeli public. Not only unity of message, but the size of the support and the scope of our activity will be what determines whether the Israeli Left can revert to being a real alternative, or if we are doomed to continue to bark while the convoy passes through on its way to the abyss.