Tomorrow, December 11 2009, we march in Tel-Aviv. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called us out for the first human rights march in Israel. They have done a superb job of mobilization, using, for the first time in Israel, modern techniques developed by the Democratic Netroots. The rallying call is one of defiance and it has resonated in a community that feels its back is against a wall. It will be a show of strength, not in terms of absolute numbers, but in terms of making a determined stand.
It will also be much more than a human rights march, because everyone still active in maintaining the vision of a different kind of Israel will be there. At the J Street conference in this October I was tasked with helping address the question: “Where is the Israeli peace movement?” Tomorrow’s event is the real answer. If there is a peace movement in Israel, this is a good chunk of its base.
I came back from the conference electrified. I told everyone willing to listen that we were not alone anymore. Progressive Democrats had given me a glimpse of a very different kind of America than the image the past eight years had branded in our minds. More importantly, a vibrant generation of young Jewish-Americans were secure in a Jewish identity that embodied the values driving our activism. We had the partners to take a final shot at rebuilding an alternative.
The past few weeks have brought to a head processes long in the making here. As your society regains its openness, ours is closing. If it what we faced was defamation, we would not be speaking out like this. Since the Gaza war and under the current government we have been subject to increasing de-legitimization. Freedom of expression and association for Israeli citizens, which we had naively thought were sacred in this country, are being systematically undermined. Obviously, this is a problem for the country as whole, but because we are currently in the government’s way, expressing dissent on two problems it cannot solve — the fallout from the Gaza war and undocumented aliens — we are the first targets. Concrete action is being taken to shut us up and close us down.