Jews and Arabs Rally for Coexistence in Jerusalem

Some 1,500 protesters march in the capital amid a wave of violence. 'Only together can we break the bloody cycle of occupation and hate," MK Dov Khenin says at the rally.

Olivier Fitoussi

Some 1,500 Jews and Arabs demonstrated on Saturday evening in Jerusalem under the motto “we will not surrender to despair.”

The demonstrators marched from Gan Hasus ("Horse Park") in the center of the city to Kikar Hahatulot (“Cat Square”). A small group of right-wing protesters demonstrated at the endpoint of the march, with police separating the two sides.

The main demonstration was organized by a new joint Jewish-Arab group called “Omdim Beyachad” (“Standing Together”), which was formed in response to the current wave of violence. Members of the group have called for an immediate stop to the violence and the end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Among those attending the rally were Knesset members and representatives from Jerusalem’s Max Rayne Hand in Hand Hebrew-Arabic bilingual school. One of the rally organizers, Alon-Lee Green, said the timing of the demonstration during the current period of “despair and fear” sends “a message of hope and of another way.” He called for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and an end to the occupation.

At the rally, Meretz party chairwoman Zehava Galon called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to reject a new French-sponsored proposal at the UN Security Council  that would have international observers sent to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. “At a time of unceasing and explosive tension when the national dispute is about to become a religious conflict, the government needs to take steps and back international initiatives to restore quiet and enable a calming of passions in advance of dialogue,” she said.

Joint Arab List Knesset member Dov Khenin welcomed the joint Jewish-Arab protest: “It is only together that we can stop the foul wave that is threatening to drown us all. It is only together that we can break the bloody cycle of occupation and hate and advance a peace of independence and justice for both peoples.”

Olivier Fitoussi
An Israeli right wing activist holds up the flag of the outlawed Kach movement as he rallies against an Israeli left-wing demonstration in Jerusalem, October 17, 2015.