International Human Rights Day was marked in Israel for the first time on Friday when thousands of people participated in a human rights march that began in Rabin square in Tel Aviv and concluded with a rally in front of the Tel Aviv Museum.
The march featured human rights organizations, Arab rights' advocates, gay and lesbian activists, migrant workers, environmentalists and feminists, united under the slogan "No Way."
The event, which also featured performances by Israeli musicians including Hadag Nachash, Alma Zohar and others, was meant to protest the continuing erosion of democracy in Israel and the lack of equal rights for many of the country's citizens.
At the conclusion of the march, the president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, author Sami Michael, awarded the human rights medal to the founders of the human rights organization "Yesh Din," and to the family of Nir Katz, who was murdered in the gay center shooting in Tel Aviv this past August.
Speaking at the rally, Michael stressed the importance of Human Rights Day. "We are all survivors of a damned century. A century of wars and bloodshed... We are here in order to emphasize that we all belong to a magnificent race - the human race. We are here to fight for human rights and we will continue to be here tomorrow and the day after that. We must always be here in order to secure a civil and fair society," Michael said.
Balad Minister Hanin Zuabi criticized current Israeli government policies at the rally. "This march, though important, does not mirror the widespread political culture in Israel. On the contrary, it sharply contradicts mainstream politics and daily racist policy," Zuabi said.