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Over 100,000 protest Gaza pullout (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF 01/31/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107055730052 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Smadar Golan, 14, who has lived her whole life under the threat of terror attacks in Neveh Dekalim, came to Jerusalem Sunday night along with 100,000 others to protest the government´s plan to evacuate her and the rest of the Gaza Strip´s Jewish residents.

In one swift move, she charged, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had turned her from one of the nation´s heroes into its enemy. Golan spoke from a podium outside the Knesset packed with MKs, rabbis and settlers leaders. Above her hung the banner "Let the people decide." Israeli flags fluttered under the floodlights.

Addressing one of the largest demonstrations ever held in the capital, Golan said, "I was born during the first intifada and I do not know what it is like to live without terror." Still, she said, she was strengthened by the knowledge that her presence in the Gaza Strip was essential for Israel.

"I knew, above all, that we were guarding and building the nation. Suddenly, the prime minister told us that that was all in vain.

Suddenly, you turned us into the enemy of the nation.

"As a girl born into war, there is nothing I want more than peace," Golan continued.

She and the other speakers called on Sharon to make good on his promise to defend them.

The MKs who spoke attacked Sharon for aborting the democratic process and called for a national referendum.

Organizers circulated a petition in the crowd asking protesters to pledge to come nonviolently to the aid of the settlers should disengagement be carried out as planned this summer.

Symbolically signing the petition on the podium, Benzi Lieberman, chairman of the Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, yelled out, "Will you be there?" "Yes!" responded the crowd.

Protesters waved Israeli flags and signs that read, "The transfer will not pass." Other signs said, "Jews plant trees, Arabs plant bombs," "Home at last, we shall not be moved," "Disengagement = ethnic cleansing of Jews," and "It´s not peace, it´s piece by piece."

Some signs played off the Likud´s election slogan by stating: "Only the Likud can transfer 10,000 Jews, sacrifice scores of settlements... and destroy the nation. We are leaving the Likud and returning to the Right."

Several women held signs that read, "A mother´s voice: the IDF is for the nation, not against the nation." Women in Green handed out white cards with orange writing that read, "Sharon is bad for the Jews." One large sign said, "Sharon go home, you are guilty."

National Religious Party MK Effi Eitam said, "There is one ´refuser´ of democracy – Ariel Sharon."

The crowd booed at the mention of Sharon´s name.

Eitam went on, "We will not stand for this dictatorship, we will not rob the nation of the right to decide. There is one man who is refusing to hear the voice of the nation. We are saying to you from here, Ariel Sharon, you do not have a mandate to evacuate Jews."

At one time, he said, an investigatory committee said that Sharon could no longer be the defense minister after the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon. "We are telling you that if you sacrifice and abandon us and refuse to listen to us, there will be an investigatory committee that will send you home and will strip you of all your governmental positions. History will judge you and will judge all those who did not come here to defend democracy," said Eitam.

He did not limit his attack to Sharon. "[Supreme Court President] Aharon Barak, where are you when they are going to evacuate Jews and when they are stealing the voice of a million voters?" asked Eitam. He turned to the press: "Now that they are tearing apart democracy, you are not here."

The protesters periodically held up cardboard flags of Gush Katif, creating a flickering sea of orange.

MK Uzi Landau (Likud) asked how the Left would have felt if Labor Party leader Shimon Peres had been elected on a platform to evacuate settlements and then turned around and strengthened them.

"What if he had come to the Herzliya Conference and said, ´I was wrong; the things you see from here you do not see from there´? What if he said [former prime ministers Menachem] Begin and [Yitzhak] Shamir were right?"

The Left, he said, would have likewise held large demonstrations, called for new elections and a national referendum and claimed he had aborted the democratic process.

MK David Levy said, "It´s not just Gush Katif that is in danger, it´s the entire settlement movement that is in danger." Those on the podium, he said, "have united here together with you to hear the voices of faith, the voices of the believers who do not want to give up."

While most speakers were greeted with cheers, the crowd booed MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) and some in the audience called on him to go home. Only after MK Zvi Hendel (National Union) asked them to remember the importance of presenting a united front did the assembled quiet down.

On the large screen by the podium, clips were shown of statements Sharon had made prior to the election promising to defend Gush Katif and calling the settlers heroes. He had used some of the same slogans now used by the Right, including "It´s not the nation that is tired, it´s the leadership." Then a clip of Sharon after the election was shown, and feet that were apparently his were seen tramping over the homes of Gush Katif, followed by bulldozers.

Words on the screen read, "It´s possible to stop this disaster. Let the nation decide." (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/31/05)

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