“The demonstration against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz was juvenile, one-dimensional and offered no alternative,” Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer told Ynet following Thursday’s mass rally at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.
“To say ‘Olmert go home’ without offering an alternative is not a message, but blindness that I refuse to be a part of,” he said.
Peace Now was behind the “400,000 people rally” in 1982 against the first Lebanon war, considered to be the largest demonstration ever to be held in Israel.
Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Shulamit Aloni were among the prominent figures who attended that rally, which pressured the government into setting up the Kahan Commission to probe the Sabra and Shatilla massacre.
But according to Oppenheimer, there is no room for comparison between the two rallies.
“Then the demonstration was held by a camp that knew what it was protesting about; that rally had a message regarding Israel’s character and the State’s responsibility for what was happening in the Middle East.
‘One-dimensional rally.’ Protest at Rabin Square (photo: AFP)
The Peace Now director said Israel’s Right was taking advantage of the public outcry to call for early elections.
“I do not adhere to the notion that if Olmert resigns the country’s problems will be resolved,” Oppenheimer said. “If Olmert says, ‘I am staying on as prime minister and advancing the peace process’ – that’s okay.”
Tsli Reshef, one of Peace Now's founders and one of the organizers of the large demonstration in 1982, also shunned tonight's demonstration.
"This is a particular demonstration that has a large platform to which I feel no ideological connection. But I am not disrespecting the demonstration's principle – that people will be held responsible for their failures."
He said the massive street demonstration against the 1982 war in Lebanon had a well-defined ideological platform.
"That was a demonstration with color – opposition to the war in Lebanon. It was a demonstration of peace and left-wing parties, during which we did not have to hide our identity."
"The demonstration 25 years ago was the culmination of a series of demonstrations against the war … It was a demonstration that led to the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the Lebanon war, and was not the result of a commission of inquiry," he said.
Reshef added that Thursday’s demonstration served the interests of the Right in Israel because if the government was forced to resign the hawkish Likud Party would most likely win the general elections under the leadership of MK Benjamin Netanyahu.