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Israeli youth protest late into the night (JERUSALEM POST) By CHANNAN WEISSMAN 01/31/05 23:01)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107141483311 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Hours after one of the largest demonstrations ever held in the heart of Jerusalem, young Roval Yoknio, 14, remained bundled up in layers of clothing roaming the streets of the government complex between the Prime Minister´s Office and the Knesset.

Having spent the majority of her Sunday traveling from her hometown of Eilat to protest Prime Minister Ariel Sharon´s disengagement plan, Yoknio, like hundreds of her peers, decided to make the most of her trip up north and spend the night in prolonged protest.

"This is the struggle of the youth," Yoknio said explaining why hundreds of young demonstrators remained embedded in the area once filled by an estimated 150,000 - 250,000 protestors earlier in the night. "We have more freedom and more of the necessary tools to organize and demonstrate. It´s too tough for those with families," she added.

Although Sunday´s three-hour rally ended at 10 p.m., a few hundred people from across the country extended their stay in the nation´s capital to protest Sharon´s refusal to put his disengagement plan to a national referendum.

Some spent the night in high spirits, dancing with Israeli flags and singing "Am Yisrael Chai," while others scurried off in small tents where young teachers presented a Powerpoint production of the history of Jerusalem and the Jewish people´s rightful claim over the city.

Ruti Engel, a 17-year-old student from Petah Tikva, decided to devote her night to learning about the media´s role in the Middle East crisis, based on a series of lectures and discussions led by Midreshet Amiad, an all-girls school in Jerusalem. She said learning all night will empower her with more knowledge and understanding of the complicated underpinnings of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"I am going to do everything in my power besides violence to protest," Engel said. "I really don´t want them to split the land."

Sitting in a chair under a sign that read, "Mothers Against the Division of the Country," 70-year old Sarah Frankel spoke to a handful of young teenagers about her experience in the Holocaust. Born in Germany, Frankel survived the Treblinka concentration camp and fought with the Partisan fighters before eventually immigrating to Israel in 1946, two years before the formation of the State.

"This government has sold us to the Arabs," she warned. "They are throwing us into the ocean after having already given us the land, this country."

Avraham Bilgrei of Gush Etzion also saw similarities between the proposed disengagement plan and the Holocaust. Walking around with a yellow Jewish star stitched into the pocket of his shirt, Bilgrei expressed unyielding contempt for the Sharon government.

"The question shouldn´t be ´why am I wearing this star´," but ´why isn´t all of Bnei Yisrael wearing a star?" he demanded. "We are in the midst of a Holocaust and on the brink of a civil war." Bilgrei expressed the belief that anyone who couldn´t see a connection between the "intentions of the Arab world" and Hitler´s Nazis "lacked any sense."

"Is there anybody who can make any credible argument that the Arabs´ philosophy, goals and intent are any different from that of the Nazis?" he asked.

Fourteen-year-old Golan Mendelovitch vehemently disagreed with Bilgrei. The Eilat native approached Bilgrei, gently tugged at the star and demanded that he take it off.

"My grandfather was in the Holocaust," said Mendelovitch, "and I know that he wouldn´t want you to be wearing that Jewish star."

"It might be bad now, but you can´t compare it to the death of 6 million Jews," he said.

Ariel Pulver, a resident of Maalot who made aliyah by himself at age 18, couldn´t help but join the conversation.

"The whole world overuses the term ´Nazi,´ - it´s almost become cliche," Pulver lamented. "There´s no comparison between the situation we are in now and that of the Holocaust."

Although Pulver disagreed with Sharon´s proposed disengagement plan, he still viewed the Prime Minister as an Israeli legend.

"Without him, you wouldn´t be able to stand on this very land," Pulver said pointing to the ground under Bilgrei´s feet. "Sharon is one of the greatest war heroes in Israeli history." (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/31/05)

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