None so blind…as those who do not wish to see!
About 6pm on Shabbat I called a friend to see if she wanted to meet me in the evening”I am going to a demonstration”she said. What demonstration? I found it on Face book on Dafne Leefs page, but I am not sure who is organizing it.” OK I said I will meet you” About 9pm we took a bus to Habima Square.
A significant amount of people had gathered there mostly young and good humoured, some pushing baby buggies.There were a few banners mostly hand crafted and almost no politically identified groups. Here and there a sprinkling of young labour, meretz, hadash tee shirts but absolutely no overt activity to convert or convince, just spontaneous “amcha” After standing around for a bit and maybe because we were told that we could not congregate at Habima we started to walk in orderly fashion towards Ibn Gbriol St. I asked people around”Where are we going? Who is speaking and so on and everyone good naturedly said ”Don’t know but happy to be here. We feel that there’s an attempt by the establishment now, to silence any and all public sentiment and that since nothing has been achieved as a result of last years inspirational and committed protests we dare not be silent.”
I am a very senior citizen but have seen my fair share of demonstrations and protests both here and in the UK where I was born and brought up to respect the rule of law as long as it was fair .I have organised demonstrations here during the past 30 years for causes as diverse as electoral reform and road safety. I must have spent every Motzei Shabbat last summer with the hundreds of thousands who were seeking social justice. Even at times of extreme tension which I wrote about in blogs, I always admired the restraint of both the crowds and the law enforcers. No people in the world with the possible exception of Ghandi’s India, have behaved better..
I have been on demonstrations for freedom for Soviet Jewry which I have played a part in organizing and knew(in the UK)when the police were going to block us or give us carte blanche. The directive always comes from above and it’s not because of some small possible violent eruption. People go out because they are angry or passionate about a cause and if they weren’t they would be amongst the multitude of couch potatoes at home. I have every respect for those people even if I do not always agree with their cause. This is what a vibrant democracy is about.
This crowd was amazing and kept going with a few drummers, whistles and hand clapping, people all around were giving us”thumbs up”
There were no blasting instructions through hand held loud speakers.
We were blocked wherever we went and finally manoeuvered to IBN GBRIOL where I assumed we would continue to Kikar Rabin. At this juncture we were stopped. We stood and stood and a few people slipped by the”law enforcers”. There were three kinds of different uniformed guys around. Some of them as confused as the crowd,. They did not know how to handle this situation where the marchers themselves were not organized and people kept coming and joining. Suddenly one would see a dozen uniforms running in one direction and then another. Still everyone was good humoured and then as if an order had been received from on high,throngs were continuing on their way, still drumming whistling and clapping, noisy maybe, but violent??
We finally arrived at KIKAR RABIN but not a soul went into the empty square they congregated opposite. Why?We could hear only drumming and whistling disturbed only by the ear drum splitting police sirens. Not a single ambulance was in evidence at that point.
A fire engine turned up, I am not sure why.
Someone said “violence had broken out” another said” its Television and the crowd pressed forward and Ibn Gbriol was closed to traffic.
Soon after the crowds started to disperse in different directions we heard that some protesters had blocked the Ayalon. There were rumours of arrests but not more.
This morning I turned on the radio and heard about the thousands of angry,violent protesters who had, broken into banks, overturned rubbish bins and assaulted police and shock and horror threw eggs at the IRIAH building.
THE TA Police Chief has said, “It was only after the violence that they acted”. Hello???? who was blocking the roads from Habima, were they maybe protagonists?
I heard too that Yediot (I have not had time to see what all the others wrote)had turned against the protesters accusing them of crossing the red line. What red line? Do they have a right to protest or not.?
Excuse me??? I was there.
PS. All of us who were there yesterday should be on trial today, according to the latest regulations which are being imposed on us.