As the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip continues, so does opposition from
the Israeli public. Protesters all across the country have been clashing
with police in both Arab-Israeli and Jewish cities. Lia Tarachansky speaks
to Jesse Rissin Rosenfeld, a Freelance Journalist based in Tel-Aviv and
Ramallah who has reported that the Israeli intelligence agency,
Shabak/Shin-Bet, has been cracking down on dissenters. He also reports
that protest to the Israeli offensive has grown significantly since Israel’s
attack on Lebanon and this time around Israeli protests in support of the
war are also starting.
Israeli intel targets protesters
GERALDINE CAHILL (VOICEOVER), TRNN: Protests have been sweeping Israel, as Arab Israelis and Jews alike demonstrate their opposition to the attack on Gaza. Thousands have gathered in cities all around the country, urging the Israeli government to stop the offensive. Israel has been deaf to the protests, and its internal intelligence agency, the Shabat (Shin Bet), has been reported to be cracking down on protest organizers and other activists. The Real News spoke to Jesse Rosenfeld, freelance journalist in Israel and in the West Bank. We’ve seen a lot of footage of protests in Tel Aviv against the war and also pro-war. What has it been like on the streets?
JESSE RISSIN ROSENFELD, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Tel Aviv had this strong bubble mentality, but that bubble kind of burst on Saturday evening when you had, after the 20,000-person demonstration, the vast majority of Palestinian Israeli in Sakhnin, that evening there was a major antiwar march that had been called in Tel Aviv. And the march itself had gotten a lot of prominence because the police took it to court, trying to refuse a permit. It went all the way up to the Supreme Court or the Israeli high court, and the police’s defense was they couldn’t control crowds if there were Palestinian flags in the march. There was then about a 1,000-person counter-demonstration that happened, which was actually called out for by the Likud Party through a mass email that they sent out. It was actually almost like a sea of Israeli flags, people wearing them as capes and waving them, but also trying to break into the demonstration, which, you know, several of the right-wing, pro-war protesters did, and attacked people inside the demonstration. They threw things from the sidelines as well. It was this sort of moment where the war actually came home to Tel Aviv.
CAHILL: Have you noticed a change in attitude in Israel before and after the ground invasion began?
ROSENFELD: When Israel sustained, you know, casualties from what they call “friendly fire”—an Israeli tank shell killed an officer, and the Israeli media was already starting to raise questions of whether the cost is worth it. As far as appetite for the war at this point as a result of casualties, there was definitely a mood, and there is, especially within Tel Aviv, sort of sentiments [inaudible] is this worth it? What are we going to get from it?
CAHILL: What about the West Bank? Has resistance there escalated since the ground invasion began?
ROSENFELD: There’s considerable outrage, but at this point it’s incredible shock in trying to figure out how to respond. But, then again, I was in a demonstration in Jaffa today where there was, you know, incredible outrage and, you know, calling for support of a new intifada. One of the organizers in the Jaffa demonstration was telling me that before the demonstrations last week which clashed with police, ten activists were arrested, and they’ve been interrogated by the Shabak, which is the Israeli security services. It’s sort of like the internal spy network, similar powers to the FBI. And similar experiences are happening for Israeli activists. It’s been reported from across the Israeli newspapers that Palestinian-Israeli community leaders and political party officials are being hauled in for interrogations by the Shabak, or they’ve been threatened, saying: “We’re going to hold you responsible for all the Palestinian-Israeli riots that are going on.”
CAHILL: What has been the result of this crackdown?
ROSENFELD: The impact on Palestinian Israelis is—you know, it’s severe that they’re happy that people are doing community organizing and coming out in solidarity with Gaza and trying to end the war, but they’re also scared of what the police crackdown is going to be.
CAHILL: How do you compare this resistance within Israel to what we saw during the Lebanon War of 2006?
ROSENFELD: What I’m hearing from all the activists that I’m talking to is that, you know, things are much larger now, but also the backlash is far fiercer, the Israeli media is far more fiercely propagandistic.
CAHILL: Rockets from Gaza have now come as close to Tel Aviv as Gedera. How has this imminence impacted Israeli attitude?
ROSENFELD: Because it’s even isolated from the Palestinian population in Jaffa, you know, and most of the antiwar protests have been sort of Jewish Israeli, there’s still been a maintenance of a sort of bubble here, even as the missiles get close. What you can potentially expect is increases of clashes with, you know, Israeli police in Palestinian-Israeli centers. You can see an increase of riots. And you can see that kind of frustration in those communities bubble up more as well. The organizers explained it to me: you know, Palestinians in Israel are facing a vast increase in racist attack from the public, while at the same time the police do nothing about it and exercise their own forms of repression when they try to politically express themselves.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.