Peace Now organized a vociferous demonstration on September 27th, in the West Bank to protest a government-organized rally celebrating fifty years of Israeli rule there. Dozens of activists chanted anti-occupation slogans and beat drums, driving the message that the occupation was not something to celebrate.
Shalom Achshav’s greater accomplishment, though, was its success in publicly portraying the event as controversial and even illegitimate, prompting a decision by the opposition parties to not participate, and, even more significantly, a decision by Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Miriam Naor to ban her fellow Court justices from participating. Naor explained that it would be inappropriate for Supreme Court justices to take part in a controversial rally, in which “the entire stage is governed by one side” of the political spectrum.
Naor’s move attracted broad media coverage, underscoring the fact that the settlements and the occupation are indeed a controversial matter. In the current public atmosphere in Israel, such recognition coming from the Supreme Court’s chief justice is quite significant.
At the rally, Prime Minister Netanyahau reiterated what he had said at similar past events in West Bank settlements: That West Bank settlements will never be uprooted, regardless of the political context.
Peace Now ended its protest vigil near the rally by singing the song, “Ose Shalom Bimromav,” based on a line from the Kaddish prayer, which expresses the yearning for divinely-granted peace. Peace Now executive director Avi Buskila tweeted that the expression on the faces of settlers who drove by and heard the song was “priceless.”