Monday, January 17, 2011

Thousands of Israelis rally in defence of human and civil rights

Tel Aviv sees largest demonstration in years as people protest against parliamentary investigation into funding of rights groups 

Harriet Sherwood in Tel Aviv, The Guardian, Jan 16, 2011

Israeli and Palestinian flags are waved by thousands of activists from leftwing groups in Tel Aviv 
Israeli and Palestinian flags are waved by thousands of activists from leftwing groups at a rally in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Oded Balilty/AP
 
Thousands of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv at the weekend in the biggest demonstration for years to protest against a series of attacks on civil and human rights organisations and a rise in anti-Arab sentiment. 
 
Under the banner of the “Democratic Camp”, a coalition of organisations and prominent individuals, the marchers heard speakers lambast the Israeli government, singling out the rightwing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who is seen as threatening Israel‘s democracy.

But there was also strong criticism of the Labour party for being a partner in Binyamin Netanyahu‘s coalition government. Labour had allowed “the existence of the most racist coalition in the history of Israel”, Nitzan Horowitz, a member of the Knesset for the leftwing Meretz party, told the crowd. “No member of the Labour party can claim to have clean hands. You are members of the most extreme government … For what have you betrayed your principles? For a few ministers’ chairs?”

The organisers of the march and rally hoped it would signal the beginning of the revival of Israel’s left and a fightback against the dominance of the right. Around 20,000 people attended the rally according to the organisers; the police said there were 10,000 present.

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