Israeli NGO ‘Standing Together’ Hits a Home Run for Anti-Zionism
Standing Together got wonderful press and who can object to their famous call: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies?” But is that what they are really about?
This is comprehensive coverage of one of the biggest anti-occupation demonstrations in Israel in recent years – organised by Standing Together https://t.co/iioXyqbLRq
— 🟣 Standing Together UK 🟣 עומדים ביחד 🟣 نقف معًا (@omdimbeyachadUK) May 25, 2021
was also selected by Fathom Journal as their Image of the Week in their Spring 2021 issue:
I would like the editor at Fathom to understand that this was not a protest for calm and coexistence between Israeli Jews and Arabs and I did write to them to tell them that:
You must be unaware that on the stage that night were Ayman Odeh, who has incited repeatedly for violence against Israeli Jews and who has said on many occasions that he wants the dismantling of the Jewish state and Ariel Bernstein of Breaking the Silence, an organization that vilifies the IDF and with it the State of Israel. In order to be a bona fide member or supporter of “Standing Together”, the organization that was behind this event, it seems one must agree that Israel is a brutal oppressor and apartheid state. In that way, it is not different from almost every other co-existence organization in the country. Therefore, this event cannot be said to be a “protest for calm and coexistence between Israeli Arabs and Jews” as the caption below the image on your website reads.
Unfortunately, not all that photographs well is representative of good will among Israelis.
I have yet to receive a response. And by posting this here, I might be spoiling any chances I may have had of publishing an article on their excellent site any time in the future.
Without even reading an article on the demonstration, we can get the gist of what really was going on: accompanying the Facebook post Standing Together put up, we see the flags and signs participants were carrying. We can assume that one or two similar flags or signs does not represent the crowd, but look at what dominates the scene in what they consider their feature image:
It is almost a sea of red. Red flags and red signs make the purple signs and flags of Standing Together, the organization that put together this event, compete for attention. And red symbolizes communism. If you look at the Israeli Communist Party (Hadash) Facebook page, you will see that their flag is red, their signs red and white or red and black. Did every member of Hadash attend this demonstration or did Standing Together supporters agree to hold the red flags and signs? Did Hadash co-organize this event or did they ride in on Standing Together’s coat-tails?
And what is conspicuous in its absence is the Israeli flag. Is it improper to show pride in one’s nation even as you criticize it?
Regardless, it seems quite arrogant of Standing Together to claim that the fact that thousands turned out for the demonstration comprise “an Arab-Jewish majority” in this country that agrees with their platform. Were that true, we would have expected Meretz, the Zionist party closest to their policies, to have gained more than 5% of the electoral votes in the last election that was held just last March and the Arab parties more than 8 1/2% of the vote (Arabs and minorites comprise 20% of the populace). While no single party got a large enough standing to form a coalition, the left comprises a very small proportion of the Israeli electorate. Perhaps the element most distinguishing the left from the center and right is that the left comes out to demonstrations in greater numbers. Will there be a leftist landslide in the next elections that will belie what I just wrote here? That remains to be seen.
Were this a representative demonstration, we might have expected speakers from across the political spectrum. But a look at the Standing Together website shows that they make no claims to be representative. They are clearly leftist. Who stood on the stage? Ayman Odeh of the Hadash Party, David Grossman who is clearly identified with the Israeli left, Ariel Bernstein of Breaking the Silence, and more. These are the people and organizations that are going to bring peace in the Middle East by bringing peace between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs?
Yup. On one condition, and that is that we agree that:
The Occupation is the Source of All Evil
It appears that in order to be considered a moral individual in Israel, Jews have to bow their heads in shame and guilt for being brutal occupiers. I have written about this before — here, and here and here, for example.
The video of the entire on-stage programme is here. Standing Together’s Uri Weltmann served as the warm-up act. He set the tone at the beginning by a call in Arabic to end the occupation, then combining Arabic and Hebrew. And calling out that “the answer to the rightwing is Israel and Palestine.” At about 7 minutes in, two red flags wafted in the breeze in front of the speaker and the hammer and sickle was clearly visible. Alon-Lee Green, Standing Together’s national director and the next speaker, is apparently colour blind because he claims the demonstration was painted purple. There was a lot of purple, for sure, but he apparently retouched the image in his mind to one that has no red.
David Grossman spoke about the innocent children who remain traumatized, children in Gaza and children in Ashkelon. He even asked for forgiveness personally for us [meaning Israel] not having been able to create the conditions [unilaterally, I guess] in which they could grow up securely. He draws a parallel between the democratically elected Israeli government and Hamas, the dictatorial terrorist entity ruling Gaza. In describing the tragedy of the operation, Guardian of the Walls, Grossman noted:
. . . how mothers lie on top of their children on the street to protect them, how multistory buildings fall like a house of cards and whole families disappear in the blink of an eye . . .
However, while multistory buildings fell like a house of cards, the families living in them did not disappear. That is a lie and he knows it. Grossman is well aware that the IDF warns residents when their building, shared with Hamas operatives, weapons caches and military operations offices, are about to be destroyed, giving them time to flee. They lose property, but not their lives. It may not make much of a difference to Grossman, but I bet it does to the families involved.
Ayman Odeh, a very charismatic speaker, was next. He so poetically talked about the audience as the light that will chase out the darkness, the darkness of apartheid. He talked about peace coming about through the cooperation of Arabs and Jews together. He had a mantra: “They [the Israeli government] are lost. We know the way.” And the way is to end apartheid, end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state. More on this below.
The following speakers were more of the same.
Standing Together and its partner organizations (Hadash, Breaking the Silence) tell Israel to stop the fighting. They never seem to tell Hamas to stop. They do not recognize the murders Hamas commits against its own citizens when about one-third of its missiles fall short and kill and maim the locals rather than the targeted Jews. They insist Israel stop the so-called siege but never ask how a region under seige manages to build up an impressive armoury such as was on display following the hudna that temporarily put a stop to the fighting:
Desensitisation to Incitement and Paving the Way for Arab Haters of Israel to Enter Government
When the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel report on the demonstration as if it was a commendable step in the right direction and when they quote Odeh without putting his staged performance in context, they seem to be preparing the public for what, until now, seemed an impossibility: inviting Arab anti-Israeli parties to either enter the coalition government or to support it from outside.
Do they not remember when Odeh responded in a radio interview in 2015 that:
I do not put red lines on the Arab Palestinian nation in their struggle against occupation.
I always blame the occupation for being guilty.
Do they not remember when Nazareth Mayor Ali Salem chased Odeh away from the city while Odeh was inciting violence on film?
We need not go that far back in history, however. Just last week (27 April), Israel Hayom reported that Ayman Odeh published posts on Facebook praising Arab youth for resisting the police. In Hebrew he wrote:
This is not the first time the police and the government have acted violently, then tried to whitewash it before finally being caught in a lie.
It is good that they removed the checkpoints at the Damascus Gate – they did nothing but sow violence and hatred. The price was paid by the residents of east Jerusalem, who will continue to fight against the occupation’s oppression and discrimination.
And in Arabic:
The occupation backed down in the face of the youth of Jerusalem and removed the barricades at Bab al-‘Amud [Damascus Gate]. This was the same occupation that backed down in the face of the youth of Jerusalem and removed the metal detectors from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
This wonderful and honorable victory belongs to the youth of Jerusalem. These clashes are sometimes calm and sometimes erupt, and it will be so until the intifada comes and brings an end to the occupation and hoists the Palestinian flag over the Al-Aqsa Mosque, over the churches, and over the liberated gates of Jerusalem. We extend our greetings to the free people of Jerusalem.
I wonder what the audience response at the Standing Together demonstration would have been had Odeh said to them in Hebrew what he wrote in Arabic on Facebook. Would they have applauded him just as enthusiastically? Perhaps, just perhaps, some of them may have hesitated for a moment as they tried to figure out if this is the same Ayman Odeh who knows how to wax poetic on cooperation and mutual respect. But Jews who yearn for peace and want to believe that the Arab leadership has the same yearning, seem to deal with the cognitive dissonance that must arise if they actually paid attention to what Odeh says in Arabic by pushing it aside and pretending that he does not really mean it.
For some reason, I still naively believe that journalism should include this kind of context so the reader can derive an informed opinion. Unless, as I stated at the start of this section, desensitisation to active Arab anti-Israeli participation in our government is something the editors at JPost and TOI view favourably.
Feature Image: Screenshot from Twitter post above.