This morning, there were some fifty of us picketing the US embassy in downtown Tel-Aviv - at the call of the Women's Coalition for Peace through their ant-war ad in Ha'aretz*. (It wasn't of course 10 pm - as we mistakenly wrote in yesterday's last-minute alert.)
The police barrier, erected across the street to prevent cars from passing directly in front of the embassy, incidentally facilitated our action. We spread out behind it, and the long row of motorists forced to take slowly the bend had long minutes to see and read our signs: "No military solutions", "War does not eliminate terror - it feeds it", "Morn the dead - don't add to them", "Bombing civilians is terrorism", mixed in with the normal Women in Black signs against the occupation. Most reactions, it must admitted, were hostile - not surprising considering the fact that we were bucking a very strong world-wide current which is particularly strong in Israel; but there were also touching manifestations of support, like the smiling and waving young woman in the ramshackle yellow car.
We were a quite heterogenous crowd: women and men, Jews and Arabs, who came there with different motives. The position of a considerable part of the women was expressed beautifully by a slogan based on the well-known words of Gandhi: "An eye for an eye - until we are all blind!". Some, like the ex-Trotskyte ODA, would oppose any military action by the United States, regardless of the circumstances. But many participants would in fact have been able to stomach a US retaliation directly at those responsible for such terrible damage at the heart of their country. What made them come was a feeling of disgust and alarm at the unbridled campaign against whoever the US chose to designate "terrorist" under the Orwellian claim of "Infinite Justice". The strident militarism broadcast by the hour on CNN did the rest.
As for our main struggle: at least, the expectations of Sharon and Co., to get a free hand against the Palestinians as part of the worldwide "Crusade against Terrorism" have clearly been dashed. The US, for its own far from altruistic reasons, decided that precisely when it prepares for war it cannot afford to let the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to go on escalating, and they in fact very much need to have Yasser Arafat in their coalition. Thus, the ceasefire which Secretray of State Powel and other high-level international mediators cobbled up during the past week, and which is until now very partial. (The Israeli media predictably attributed ceasefire violations solely to "Palestinian perfidy", glossing over the fact that the first fatality after cease-fire was declared was a Palestinian shot by the Israeli forces near Hebron). It remains to been seen whether that same motivation, the need to maintain their interests in the Arab and Muslim World, will be enough to bring the Bush Administration to at last tackle seriously the occupation and the settlements, which are the underlying causes of so much violence and bloodshed in the past year. Lacking that, any ceasefire will prove short-lived indeed.