Thousands took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Friday for a march meant to promote human rights.
Demonstrators who attended the fourth annual rally carried posters calling for "racism-free elections" and stating that "a true revolutions starts from the bottom." Other slogans criticized Israel's
leaders – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
– of stifling civil liberties.
The march commenced at the plaza in front of the Habima National Theater and concluded at Rabin Square, where various artists performed to mark the international Human Rights Day.
Demonstrators in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)
"I felt it was important for me to attend and represent Arab women, whose rights are violated over and over," said Waffa Tiara of the Maan Workers Advice Center, who came to the rally with friends. Tiara, who helps women find work, said that unemployment rate among Arab women amounts to 83%.
"(Employment) is a basic right that the government ignores," she said. "It doesn't open factories or daycare facilities and doesn't provide adequate transportation.
"This march is our opportunity to make our voices heard," she added.
Fighting for human rights (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Dawit Demoz, an Eritrean asylum seeker who entered Israel by jumping its southern border three years ago, was among the demonstrators as well.
"There are people here from all kinds of places, but we are all united by the battle for basic rights," he said. "The government in Israel treats us like criminals or infiltrators. People are detained without trial. But the people in Israel need to realize that we are fighting for our lives against a brutal dictatorship in Eritrea. This is the reason we escaped and came here."
'We're fighting for our lives' (Photo: Yaron Brener)
The event's organizers said that they chose performers who represented Israel's diverse sectors.
"Art at its best… touches all our hearts, and reminds us that we all belong to the same noble and sensitive race – the human race, which deserves rights to the fullest extent," said Sami Michael, the president of the Association for Civil Rights.
Ralliers demanded justice and equality (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Meretz Party Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On said that people and groups fighting for civil rights have experienced prosecution during the current parliament term via anti-democratic legislation and attempts to restrict their activity.
"Unfortunately, the next Knesset doesn't look more promising than the current one, but we won't give up," she said. "We will fight against the fascism and racism that rear their heads at the Knesset and the Israeli society, and will stand guard over democracy."