Israel's Left and Right March Separately for Human Rights

5,000 marchers mark International Human Rights Day in Tel Aviv; Im Tirtzu Chair at march: Jews and even settlers have rights too.

Over 5,000 people participated in a march marking International Human Rights Day on Friday in Tel Aviv.

The marchers gathered at Tel Aviv's Habima Theater in the morning and were divided into two groups for the actual march: one for left-wing groups and one for right-wing groups.

The right-wing Im Tirtzu group caused a stir on Thursday when they announced that they were planning on participating in the march under the banner, "Jews also have rights."

Out of the over 120 groups participating in the march, most are focused on protecting human rights and are associated with the left-wing movement.

At the march on Friday, those from the right-wing side held signs saying things such as "Tel Aviv + Ariel = Israel," Ariel being a large settlement in the West Bank, and "Jews also have human rights."

Ronen Shoval, Im Tirtzu Chairman explained his groups position, saying " We have come with a different message: to emphasize human rights for Jews too, and farmers, and army reservists, and surprisingly, even settlers."

Signs from the left displayed slogans more commonly associated with left-wing causes such as "Stop the occupation" and "Solidarity against fascism."

Marchers on the left were joined by large numbers of foreign workers and refugees. Among the left-wing groups participating were the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Adalah, Machsom Watch, Breaking the Silence and Physicians for Human Rights.

Im Tirtzu gained notoriety this year after they threatened the head of Ben Gurion University that they would convince people to stop donating to the school unless it got rid of the "anti-Zionist tilt" in its government department.

Marchers in Tel Aviv
Nir Kaider

Before the march, the Executive Director of the Association for Civil Right in Israel expressed surprise to learn of the right-wing group's participation in the march

Haggai Elad said it was ironic for a group "that has worked so hard to slander human rights" to participate.

"We think they have a lot to hear about rights for all humans and the march is a great opportunity for this," Elad said.