Tonight in Central Tel Aviv hundreds gathered to call on Israel to hear the claims of African asylum seekers escaping genocide and dictatorship. Police refused to give the organizers a permit and held them in a barricaded zone to the side of the square. At the same time, a group of counter protesters, calling on Israel to force asylum seekers out of Israel, were given the center of the square chanting racist chants that African 'infiltrators' should be forced out. Police allowed the counter protesters freedom to move around the square yelling things like "they aren't refugees, they're infiltrators, send them back [to Africa]", "Leftists are Anti-Semites", and more.
Later, police dispersed the anti-racist group from the square and escorted the counter protesters on a march - with no permit - through Central Tel Aviv back to in South Tel Aviv. On the way marchers stopped to chant and yell at diners, walkers, and bikers in the upscale neighborhoods they passed through. They told the upscale patrons that South Tel Aviv is dangerous because Africans are there, that Africans brought aids to Israel and much more racism. They occupied intersections on major streets, and police facilitated it.
Many of the anti-refugee protesters are working class, Mizrahi, residents of South Tel Aviv. They have suffered decades of state racism, and are enduring the growing divide between rich and poor in this country. Other than imprisoning and deporting some asylum seekers, Israel has ignored its responsibility to hear asylum seeker claims and settle them in economically sound and socially just ways. So thousands have found living space and homes in South Tel Aviv. Some residents of South Tel Aviv - encouraged by racist politicians - have taken up cause against refugees, here to seek asylum, instead of organizing to oppose the oppressive class and the racism in this system.
For the tenth consecutive year Combatants for Peace hosted a joint Palestinian-Israeli memorial ceremony "honoring the victims, fighting for peace" in Tel Aviv. As violent and racist extremism grows and death tolls rise, the will to mourn together is important as we acknowledge and oppose the occupation and its reality of asymmetrical power. Thousands came to mourn together, listen to beautiful music, and hear from speakers including members of the Parents Circle - Families Forum, made up of Palestinian and Israeli bereaved family members. The venue was so full this year that some couldn't get in.
Note: These photos were taken with an older phone. Apologies for the low quality.
Hundreds joined Breaking the Silence and Youth Against Settlements to learn about the violent and oppressive reality in Hebron and to meet some of the people resisting the occupation.
When I visited Cuba in 2007 I was surprised to find so many of the street vendors selling books instead of plastic toys trinkets. This is is probably related to the Cuban Literacy Campaign and the nearly 100% literacy the country boasts. I stayed in the home of a family, as many travelers without the funds for a hotel room do. Speaking to my hosts and random people on the street revealed mixed feelings about Castro's communism. Education, healthcare, and many more services were accessible, but things like the internet and democracy at the top was lacking, big time. I hope the path the Cuba is on today can maintain public services while bringing more information as well as democracy without the country being turned into a corporate playground for the United States.
In the H2 section of Hebron movement is restricted, street by street, for tens of thousands of Palestinians as settlers slowly take over more land.
On "Jerusalem Day", when some Jews celebrate when Israel unified/conquered Jerusalem in the 1967 war, they march through an East Jerusalem gate (Damascus Gate) and through the old city in part to incite the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem by yelling racial slurs such as "Death to Arabs", putting up stickers that say that the terrorist, Meir Kahane "was right", and in some cases picking fights with Palestinian onlookers (many yell back and get angry too), people who look "Leftist", and journalists.
Others bring their kids to join the parade and songs.
Today 250 people walked through Hebron with Breaking the Silence learning about the system of occupation.
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