Over 100,000 protest Gaza pullout (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF 01/31/05)
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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,"
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
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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