Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Trouble in Zion

A sole Israeli protestor starts to draw supporters

by Florence Biederman, JERUSALEM (AFP)

Commander David Tatarsky has seen a lot of Israeli wars in his lifetime, but the recent conflict in Lebanon was too much.

"My protest is not political, it is one of a citizen," says Tatarsky, 60. Army chief of staff Dan "Halutz failed, the result is clear after days of war in Lebanon. He should step down," he says.

"When I heard Halutz tell television last week that he was not afraid of a commission, I was indignant -- I made my signs with my wife and I came down from Haifa to demonstrate," he says, referring to Israel's northern port city.

"This war is a loss! It had three goals: free the two seized soldiers, dismantle Hezbollah and drive it from south Lebanon, and protect the residents of northern Israel," he says.

"The soldiers are not freed, Hezbollah is still there, and the north of Israel was attacked as never before during the 60 years of Israel's existence," he says.

"The government did not do what it said it would," says Miriam Vizen, a 40-year-old artist.

"The whole government is responsible and should step down," she says, holding a sign "Olmert and Halutz, resign!"

"The civilians in the north were not protected against Hezbollah rockets," she says. "They didn't have bomb shelters, the help was slow in coming and badly organized, they should have prepared all this before launching into war."

"And what about the preparation of the army? This war was not a great success, we must quickly extract conclusions, we cannot afford the luxury of waiting years, we are a small democracy encircled by countries that would like to see us elsewhere," she says.

David Tatarsky and Miriam Vizen are right. I also hope they realize that our civilians in the South had no bomb shelters at all, have lost their homes and entire villages, and were pretty much all killed or displaced. I hope in their hearts, they're also protesting on behalf of our victims, and our country. I hope it's not just about the army and their military image, and I hope that more and more Israeli citizens will begin to see things for what they really are.

Which reminds me to post this from Amnesty, Imprisoned for refusing to attack.

"The number of imprisoned conscientious objectors at the time of writing is five. According to Yesh Gvul, an Israeli group supporting Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories, five others soldiers face sentencing before the Military Court for objecting to participate in the attacks on Lebanon."

Among them Amir Pasteur and Itamar Shapira. You can 'take action' on Amnesty's page if you want. I did, but I think emails to Israel from Lebanon are blocked. So my letter didn't get through.


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