The Left-wing Protest / No Rage in the Square

The left returned to the square last night - well-organized, restrained, polite and statesmanlike - just like in the good old days. The square may no longer be the same square, the museum plaza has replaced Rabin Square, but the left is the same: mostly secular Ashkenazis.

Israel killed nine Turks, but the left is still resting. Perhaps it has not properly awakened from its winter slumber.

Though the Israeli left displayed encouraging signs of life yesterday, every European capital had larger, stormier demonstrations against the Israeli occupation and the ships' abduction. Let's not forget what real rage demonstrations around the world look like. Not like this.

Surrounded by a tight police ring, another sign of the times, they called out the same hollow slogans we've heard for 43 damned years - "two states for two peoples," just like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Bar-Ilan University. This is not the way to bring down a government or to lift a blockade.

The left may know how to organize a demonstration, but it doesn't know how to generate momentum. It has no leadership. Relatively anonymous people spoke from the podium, without anyone evoking real emotion or making the soul tremble.

Two demonstrations for two peoples. First came Peace Now's blue and white flags; Hadash's activists, some of them Arabs, with their red flags, came last. The first group tried to maintain a statesmanlike facade: "Proud of the soldiers, ashamed of the government," they cried. They railed against Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, but not against Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The Arabs in the rear called: "Defense minister, how many children have you killed today?"

Real rage, the kind seen in government-toppling, occupation-shattering demonstrations, was simply not seen here last night. Here, among the Jewish left, people come to meet up with friends and feel good about themselves. Have you ever seen a left-wing demonstration in the world whose participants shout that they are "proud of the soldiers?"

In Israel - awash with nationalism and militarism - the left wants to draw masses and thinks it must act accordingly.