Maxim Reider

Say no to occupation

The Peace Now CEO Avi Buskila
The Peace Now CEO Avi Buskila

About one hundred activists participated in a rally at Gush Etzion crossing in the West Bank September 27th. The rally was organized by Peace Now movement and took place just in a few miles from where the larger than life celebratory event to mark 50 years since “the liberation of Judea and Samaria”, as the official wording goes.
Holding the posters of Peace Now, as well as those of Combatants for Peace and Breaking the Silence organizations and MERETZ party, the participants chanted the traditional slogans, demanding to put the end to the occupation: “50 years is enough”, “Money to the needed and not to settlers”, “Bibi go home, peace is more important”, “No more wounded, no more killed”,  “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”.

Says the Peace Now CEO Avi Buskila: “This rally is the final element of our three days long intensive campaign, which we managed in the local media, creating a significant buzz in the society. Our statement is: “These celebrations are irrelevant and just unacceptable. In our campaign, we questioned the very legitimacy of the event, which takes place in the territory, which does not belong to Israel, at least until a peace treaty is signed. There’s no consensus in the society regarding this event. Its aim was to strengthen the ties between settlers and Netanyahu, who does not care about the rest of the country’s population. It also served as Miri Regev’s election campaign – all this paid from the taxpayer’s money. Just think of it – it cost 10 million shekels!
What is this all about? Of 50 years of occupation?
There’s nothing much to celebrate here.”

A Peace Now activist
A Peace Now activist

A totally different rally was taking place on the other side of the crossing, in support of Nativ avotenu (The Forefathers’ Path) settlement, slated to demolition. Unlike the decisive and demanding left wing activists, their right wing counterparts addressed to PM Binyamin Netanyahu with a mixture of humility and respect, as if they were deeply hurt by the inappropriate actions of the beloved big brother – or at least this is what was ringing in their voices.  “Bibi, women and kids are about to become homeless,” “Bibi, Jews do not throw Jews out of their homes.”

“Nativ avotenu is  an outpost, partly built of private Palestinian lands, and as such is slated for demolition according to the High Court decision, which had been initiated by Peace Now. The settlers have shifted their fight to social sphere, also engaging children from their educational networks into their activities,” explains Yotam Yaakoba, who is responsible for Peace Now social activities.

Addressing to the border policemen, who separated the activists from the roadway, Yaakoba said: “Thank you, guys, for your service! I understand you pretty well: I myself have just returned from my reserve duty – I spent an entire month protecting our dear settlers. I want you to know that we are rallying for you, too. We don’t want you to be here. Israel has achieved peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, we can make peace with the Palestinians, too.”

Participants of the settlers' rally
Participants of the settlers’ rally

While Peace Now activists were heading to the buses, a group of kids in their early teens from the settlers’ rally hurried to the parking, too, accompanied by a tall stodgy man, allegedly their tutor. The army forces swiftly redeployed, now separating the left wing adults from the right wing kids, who expressed their contempt to the “fifth columnists from the rotten-hearted Tel Aviv” in all possible ways. Some grimaced, while others made gestures. A few looked at the activists with a mixture of hatred and fear, which is understandable: they were probably told that these are the nasty people who want to through them, together with their Mommy and Daddy, their brothers and sisters from their homes.
Other kids were just jumping like mad, celebrating their childhood.
I personally find this “celebration” as a very worrying sign of change to worse. The mantras “there’s no partner for peace” are thrown away to the trash bin of history: the radical right does not need them anymore. What partner, what peace? We have returned home, to the land of our fathers. Occupation? Are you kidding? Just listen to the music of our ancient language: יהודים חזרו ליהודה – “yehudim hazru le-yehuda” – Jews have returned to Judea. 
This madness is to be stopped, before this country brings upon itself a major disaster. 

©Photos by Maxim Reider

About the Author
Maxim Reider is a trilingual Israeli journalist, translator and photographer. Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, he has been making Tel Aviv his home since 1989. Author Photo by Ernest Aranov.
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