15 May 2021 | International Solidarity Movement Czech Republic (ISM ČR)
Related to the escalation of violence in Palestine/Israel, there was a protest demonstration in Prague on 14 May 2021. The event was organized by the initiatives Friends for Palestine and International Solidarity Movement Czech Republic branch (ISM ČR). It condemned the continuing expulsion of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, and armed attacks against the besieged Gaza Strip. The event was supported by Jewish Voice of Solidarity and Palestinian community in the Czech Republic. The demonstration paid tribute to Rafat Banat, Czech Palestinian and a descendant of Palestinians expelled from Jaffa in 1948, who passed away recently.
Despite the bad weather the demonstration was visited by 150 supporters of free Palestine and 20 supporters of Israel. Both groups listened to some Czech and other language speeches of Czech, Israel and Palestinian speakers supporting Palestinian rights for self-determination, compliance of human rights and international law and challenges for nonviolence.
Zdeněk Jehlička from the initiative ISM criticized the imbalance of Czech public service media in the relation to the occupied Palestine. According to him Czech media mostly take over official opinions of Israeli government and army and neglect the voice of the other side. He emphasized, that Czech media didn’t reflect neither last analysis of the organizations B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch describing Israel regime as apartheid. Jehlička in his speech also delimited himself against individual Palestinian sides and fractions: “We are not here to defend Hamas or Fatah, our demonstration wants to give voice to unanswered Palestinians, who are the ones mostly injured by the situation”, he said. He asked for honouring the victims of both sides of the so-called Israel- Palestinian conflict (he considers it as a misused term, which covers the fact of Israel occupation and colonisation).
Following speaker was a Syrian student Yasmine Zakie, according to whom the freedom of anybody can´t be enforced using oppression and the call for justice for Palestinians has nothing to do with supporting violence, extremism or terror. “When we talk about justice we are talking about justice for thousands of fathers, mothers and friends, who had lost their children and closest ones. We are talking about freedom and right for Palestinians oppressed since the year 1948. They are limited in their civil rights and they are victims of hate, oppressions and segregation. Israel by this continues in breaking the international law”, said Zakie in an allusion to continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestine (Nakba).
The program continued by Israel literature scientist Einat Adar, who pointed out, that Israel is not a standard democracy. She accused Israel premier Benjamin Netanjahu that he is the one responsible for the current exacerbation of the situation. According to her he needs to strengthen his position before the election and avoid threatening criminal sanctions. “Enforcement of personal needs was something, what was missing in this conflict till now and it is much more dangerous in a situation, when the extremist currents connected with the settlers’ movement are strengthening and all the Israel public opinion is moving to the right. There is no power able to face these manipulations”, she said.
Philosopher Joe Grim Feinberg from the Jewish voice for solidarity in a reaction to violent expelling Palestinians from their homes developed an idea of a home as a safe place for everybody. He admitted to connect home with an oppressive state and pointed out the sense of Jewish tradition originated in time of exile – home as a freedom for all. According to him Israel is hiding itself behind the interest of Jews, but the Jews cannot be co-responsible for everything what Israel is committing against Palestinians. “When people are expelled from their land, we admit that it is doing this in the name of all Jews, when the police is organizing night raids, it doesn´t do it for our security, when the crowd attacks other people because of their origin, they don´t do it for us. Any pogroms, any deportations, any attacks on civilians can´t be organized in an interest of any man.”, said Feinberg in the name of Jewish voice for solidarity.
The speeches were joined by a recitation of slam poetry of a poem writer Robert Netuka alias Tukan, who won with his poem Netanjahu na tahu (Netanjahu’s turn) the historical first Czech radio show of slam poetry. His interest in the Palestinian rights was led by his conviction that right for a home is something basic, what cannot be cancelled. To his words about unified humanity came a surprising positive reaction as well from the side of Israel supporters.
The open and free atmosphere joined by music was finished by a Palestinian and Arabic dance dabke.
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