An Eyewitness Account of the Haifa, Israel Anti-War Demonstration

Israeli policemen arrest protesters as Palestinians living in Israel and left wing activists protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza in down town Haifa, July 18, 2014. (Photo:

I’m going to try to write up what I saw, heard, and experienced at the anti-war demonstration in the Carmel Center, Haifa on Saturday, July 19th2014. This was a difficult and traumatizing experience, one of the worst I have faced in over a decade of activism. Please forgive rough writing. This is my point of view, and as such, is clouded. I can only write what I saw and experienced. All times are approximate.


9pm, opposite Ha’Agala Burekas restaurant, Moria Ave, Haifa: my partner and I are in my parents’ car, heading to the demonstration that is supposed to start at this location at 9:30. As we drive up, we see a huge police presence, including armored horses, a water canon, and hundreds of police. Getting closer, we see what they’re there for: over a thousand right wing counter-protestors have showed up, chanting,waving Israeli and army flags, calling the left ‘traitors’.


9:05pm: We call the organizers, in a half-panic. We’re told that the demo has been moved a few hundred yards down the street, nearer the Carmel Center. As we’re walking, I see a policeman shoving a man with a sign supporting the left. He’s bleeding. We later find out he was punched in the face by one of the right wingers.


9:10pm, at the entrance to the Kababir neighborhood, Moria Ave:we arrive at the new site for the demonstration. We’re practically alone with a ton of heavily armored police. At this stage, it seems utterly irresponsible to encourage people to march. Being outnumbered doesn’t begin to describe the situation we were in. We head off to a nearby restaurant for a few minutes.


9:20pm: People are trickling in. I walk around, trying to explain to folks there what I saw down the street (most people came from a different direction). I’ve been an activist for many years, and have attended hundreds of demonstrations. From experience, we can deal with the police, almost no matter what they do. We can’t deal with huge numbers violent counter-demonstrators out to kill us. A sense of bewilderment seems to be the dominant theme.


9:25pm: The main organizers ask us to move people into the adjacent park. I ask people to do so, and for the most part, they do. At this point,many counter-demonstrators have moved to stand opposite us, and are being held back by the police. Chants of “Death to Arabs”,“Death to traitors”, “Death to leftists” come from the other side of the street. Their numbers are swelling, fast.


9:30pm: We’re asked to move back onto the sidewalk from the park, as the police say they cannot protect us in the park. With all that’s going on, much of this gets lost.


9:45pm: Our side is swelling, but the other side is swelling faster. There are supposed to be buses arriving from other parts of the country. We chant slogans for unity: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”;“Both in Gaza and in Sderot, children want to live”; “Peace isn’t built on childrens’ bodies”; “Gaza, stand strong, we’ll end the Occupation yet”; and many more. Banners are raised. Red flags and Palestinians flags are waving. The other side is jumping up and down, singing nationalist songs, waving Israeli and army brigade flags, all the time pushing against the police line. Our side does not at all push against the police. There’s no point: if the line were to be broken, we’d be facing a raving mob head on.


10pm: Buses should be arriving from other parts of the country. They do not. We get word that the police has blocked buses of our supporters from coming.


10:05pm: One bus arrives, barely. It takes a long few minutes for the police to get the bus through the right wing folks. When they pull up, I go over to greet them. Turns out it was a bus from Nazareth. Our ranks are swelled a bit more. Still, we’re outnumbered, by a long shot.

Over the next thirty minutes or so, one more bus arrives. We found out much later that four buses were blocked completely by the police.


10:45pm: By now, a few small scuffles have broken out between police and the counter-demonstrators. A couple of them are arrested. Chanting keeps up on both sides. We shout for life, they shout for death. I stay as close to the front as I can, right up to the police line. Tempers flare here and there.


As a Jewish Israeli, it’s very very difficult for me to even consider trying to hold back Arab protesters. It isn’t my place. They have so much more to be angry about than I do. Our privilege, being identified by the state as being Jewish, is huge. Yet I seem to have taken on a role of responsibility, together with my Arab friends. This is a tough paragraph to write. I don’t want to appear arrogant. Yet it seemed at the time that all our efforts were appreciated by those trying to keep others from getting badly hurt.


10:50pm: A couple of demonstrators from our side get snatched by police and arrested, violently. Looking across the street, I see murder gleaming in the eyes of the fascists. I don’t use that word lightly,but when a huge gang is quite literally calling for us to be killed,it’s appropriate, I think.

Much later, we find out that a few of our folks found themselves attacked by the right. One broken nose, one broken shoulder. Maybe more.

A few bottles are thrown on us. Nothing much, at least not compared to what was to come later.


11pm: Someone decides to move into the neighborhood, away from the main street. People are terrified, as the counter-demonstrators are still swelling and getting closer. In principle, this should be the end of the demonstration. The police allow some of the counter-demonstrators across the street, near the bus. Other police try to herd some of our side onto the bus. The bus is headed back to another town. Police barely manage to get it out.


11:20pm: We’re trying to disperse. Outside of the West Bank, where protests are suppressed with heavy crowd-control measures, I’ve never been to a demonstration where the hardest part is leaving. A group of folks from Tel Aviv ask us to help them, to take them through the backstreets to where their bus is. They can’t find all their people. We stand with them in a courtyard, with people trying to get through the back the building. Suddenly, they come running back, shouting that the rightists are coming from behind. Across the narrow side street,many of them have moved opposite us, shouting and gesturing. Police are barely to be seen.


11:30pm: We move to the corner of the next street. There are around 100 of us left at this point, as many somehow managed to escape, perhaps on a bus, perhaps in small groups on foot. We can’t tell. My partner andI agree that we’re not leaving until everyone is safe. All three opposite corners, and quite a way down the streets, are covered with our opposition. It’s a terrifying scene. We’re surrounded. Police are hanging out in the middle, looking utterly clueless. Their horses and heavy machinery are nowhere to be seen. For only the second time in my life, I’m wishing for police protection.


11:40pm: Stones start flying toward us. Not many, but large. We have older folks with us, some over 70. We use the sticks holding our flags to try to deflect the stones like baseballs. A few hit people. People are bleeding. Police look almost as scared as we are, and still,they do almost nothing to help us get the hell out. They have helmets. Needless to say, we do not.

This doesn’t stop. We chant those same slogans for unity: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”. It seems so damn empty at this point,facing hundreds of Zionist Jews who want to see us dead. Not in jail. Dead.

I talk to a few people. The word ‘pogrom’ starts being whispered. These are highly experienced folks, for the most part,who do not use such words lightly.


Midnight: A policeman tells us to stand back. In his words “there is going to be a mess here”. A water cannon shows up. Armored police horses show up. I find myself almost relieved. When the water cannon is shot right atone of the bunches of right wingers, a cheer goes up from our side. Myself and few others shout at them to stay quiet: “We do NOT cheer police, ever!”

More stones. More chants for murder. We’re still trapped. A few people try to push out to escape the hell we’re in. They are pushed back by police and counter-demonstrators.


12:15am, July20th: The police try to get us out. People are throwing stones at us. Again, not many,but they’re coming from all sides, including the buildings we’re passing by. Police run into building entrances, pushing back those trying to attack us. They’re barely successful.

I hear shouts and run toward them. I see one of our people on the ground, bleeding from his head. Police try to push us forward. A couple of us tell them, trying to be calm, that we have some one injured. A policeman says “fine, leave him there”. We do nothing of the sort. We pick him up. He’s ok, somehow. Adrenaline,I suppose.


12:30am: We’re still half walking, half running down the street, surrounded by police. It’s a bit calmer, but the counter-demonstrators (perhaps,by now, rioters) are still not far behind us. We find ourselves at a traffic circle. Two police commanders are arguing about what to do. All we want is to get a bus. They keep changing up where they want the bus to be. I overhear one commander telling the other that there are another hundred rightists coming down the street. They do not know what to do. They order us further down the hill.


12:35am: The sidewalk ends on our side. Police tell us to get into the shadows. I hear one of them ordering a bus sent to us, empty, asfast as possible. Nothing happens, everyone is exhausted. They seem to holding back the counter-demonstrators up the street.


12:45am: A public bus is passing by with around six people aboard. Police stop the bus, tell everyone on it to leave, and shout at us to get on. We can’t believe this: the police have literally commandeered a bus. It takes a while, but we all get on. Eighty people packed like sardines onto a bus that holds fifty. The bus moves up the hill to turn around. As it does, it’s hit with a rock thrown at it.


12:50am: We start singing. People sing and laugh as the adrenaline starts to decline. We feel safe, for the first time in hours.

1am: As we head toward the shore, where another bus is waiting for us, a car covered with an Israeli flag pulls up. The driver shouts and gestures at us. This is our first hint that it’s not over yet. Some still feel safe enough to flash V for victory signs at him.


1:05am: We pull into the parking lot behind the beach restaurant, Maxim. We get off the bus. We wonder where the next bus will take us. One of the organizers tells us to get on, and we’ll sort that out later. The water cannon truck pulls in behind us, with a number of police vans.


1:15am: We’re on the bus, and we’re moving out of the parking lot. The police accompaniment leaves. We’re alone. Suddenly,we hear two or three rocks hitting the bus. Two windows are shattered. We push the broken glass out onto the street to avoid the pieces flying in due to wind and hitting passengers. The broken windows make the bus windy, full of fresh air. We’re tense, but we’re safe.


1:20am: The bus pulls up near the Haifa headquarters of the Hadash party, one of the main organizers. As we disembark, we take photos of the youth making victory signs out the broken windows. We’re safe.


1:30am: We go to headquarters to debrief, post reports, and decide on next steps. At some point later, my partner and I go get some food and drinks for ourselves and our friends.


2:30am: We head to the police station to wait for the eight arrested to be released. A somewhat surreal scene occurs when we encounter a demonstrator from the other side, doing the same. No tempers flare.


4:30am: After two hours of waiting, talking, trying to understand what happened and why, our prisoners are released unconditionally. We applaud.

We go home. We sleep.


We were lucky: one stone an inch to one side or another, and someone would have died. Quite a few people were injured. One broken nose; one shattered shoulder. One demonstrator hit in the head by police. Who knows what else?


We live to fight another day.


Zeige Kommentare: ausgeklappt | moderiert

Dieser Augenzeugenbericht einer israel-stämmigen jüdischen Person wird wohl bei den meisten Personen hier nicht in das Weltbild vom guten Israel passen.
Eine schöne Anekdote die beweist, dass Israel genauso wenig homogen ist wie jedes andere Land der Welt.
Auch in Israel gibt es Faschisten und Rechte Spinner. Die sind in diesem Fall nebenbei halt noch Juden. Na und ?
Macht das ihren Faschismus irgendwie besser oder schlechter? Nein.
Faschismus bleibt Faschismus und niemand hat einen Freifahrtsschein. Kein Hassprediger in einer Mosche, kein radikaler Christ, kein Salafist und auch kein radikaler Zionist in Israel.
Ihr würde es mir sehr wünschen, wenn die deutsche Linke ihr Dogmadenken endlich ablegen würde und sich mit Menschen solidarisieren würde anstelle von Ideologien oder Staaten.
Man kann nicht auf Demos "kein Gott, kein Staat" etc. rufen und im nächsten Satz sich mit Israel solidarisieren. Das ist pervers und widersprüchlich.
Hamas? Scheiße. ja. Dafür 600 Tote im OpenAir-Ghetto Gaza akzeptieren und tollerieren? HELL NO !
Das haben selbst Personen wie diese, die diesen Augenzeugenbericht geschrieben hat, die ISRAELISCHE STAATSBÜRGERSCHAFT hat, begriffen.
Dann sollte das doch auch jeder Deutsche begreifen können.

I am one year in Germany, and fully surprised and dissapointed from this "israel state- friendly" attitude of the german "movement".

Socked to see flags of the israelian STATE  in antinazi demos.

I just wonder how all these guys with the israeli-flags or the philo-israeli feelings, think about the israeli boys and girls who go to prison because they refuse to join this deadly army (IDF).

Not to say about the bombings of houses and hospital in Gaza.

It's super obvious that all this trend is lead by regrets of the 2nd WW, but this is not a way to do politics. And these are not anti-deutsch statements.


Merkel agrees allright with the  war right now.

Whenever a guy or a girl wares a scarf that looks like palestine can be accused of being fasist.

You know how i call it? Islamofobia.


Anyway, schlaf gut people.

Try to stick always on the side of the repressed ones.

i ve been over a year in germoney too and getting sick with these Murder sympathy. why do you guys(germans left wingers) although not all, instead of seeing what is really going on there you just inciting a conflct? Hamas definitely will be another fascist too. but man see the fact. it s all about occupation-settlement. open-air prison. the palestinians have to live it years and years every fucking day n that s why, no fucking question for them to resist and this is very important to distinguish what is war and what is resistance since stone and tank are imbalance to compare.

Ich bin ehrlich gesagt auch fassungslos, mit welcher Gleichgültigkeit unsere Bevölkerung und die ganze Welt das Handeln Israels hinnimmt und wie gut man dem Normalverbraucher vermitteln kann, dass es sich hier nicht um einen gezielten Völkermord und die Vertreibung der Palästinenser aus ihrem Land, sondern um einen Kampf gegen die Hamas, die als skrupellose Terroristen anstatt Freiheitskämpfern dargestellt werden handelt.


Auch schließe ich mich weitgehend meinen Vorgängern hier im Forum an, da auch ich Sympathiebekundungen für Israel selbst aufgrund Deutschlands Vergangenheit absolut nicht verstehen kann, sondern so etwas eher für eine absolut plumpe Antinaziprovo halte.

Die Hamas sind keine "Freiheitskämpfer". Deine Ansicht ist genau so einseitig und dogmatisch wie die deiner politischen Gegner. Pro-Hamas-Äußerungen haben auf Linksunten nichts verloren!

die regierung und die armee israels sind eindeutig rechtsoben zu verorten, basta.

ist wohl etwas revisionistisch wenn die lebenserwartung in gaza höher ist als in der türkei.

Eigentlich hatten wir die ganze antiimp/antid scheiße doch schon durch, wann emanzipiert ihr euch mal von staatfetischistischen Dogmen.

“The only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” This assertion was made by Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University about three weeks ago on an Israel Radio program. “It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East,” added Kedar, of Bar-Ilan’s Department...

(eigentlich wenig "Antiimp" - verdächtig" sieht man die Demonstrationen israelischer Rechter mit Parolen, wie 2macht Gaza zum Friedhof" oder "Löscht Gaza aus". Aber das verschweigen die Kämpfer fürs Abendland lieber.


Danke für objektive Berichte.

Einigen Dinge die  letzte Samstag gehoren haben

As the conflict in the Gaza Strip continues to escalate, and the body count continues to increase the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) has called for an immediate end to all European military support for Israel and for the EU to declare a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties in conflict. Pending such an embargo, all EU states must immediately suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and ammunitions to the parties in conflict.
When taken together European countries are one of Israel’s main suppliers of military systems and equipment, behind only the US. In the last ten years EU countries have licensed over €2 billion of military contracts to Israel, including over €600 million in 2012

Die Kommunistische Partei Israels und die Demokratische Front für Frieden und Gleichheit (HADASH) drücken ihren Zorn und ihren Schmerz über den kriminellen und inhumanen Angriff Israels auf die Menschen in Gaza aus. Wir übermitteln hiermit unsere tiefe Sympathie und Solidarität an die Menschen in Gaza, die von einer bösartigen Regierung getötet und verletzt werden, deren einzige Absicht es ist, die Besetzung und Kolonisierung der besetzten Palästinensischen Territorien und die Belagerung Gazas aufrecht zu erhalten.

Seit Beginn des Angriffs haben die KP Israels und HADASH eine Reihe von Demonstrationen und Aktivitäten gegen diesen Überfall organisiert und angeführt und verlangt, das Feuer sofort einzustellen und die Zivilbevölkerung, Palästinenser wie Israelis, aus diesem blutigen Konflikt herauszuhalten. Bei unseren Aktivitäten und Initiativen wurden wir vom faschistischen und rassistischen Mob angegriffen, während die israelische Polizei kaum etwas getan hat, dies zu stoppen. Diese gewaltsamen Angriffe wurden praktisch von der neofaschistischen Regierung gefördert, die ständig gegen alle progressiven und demokratischen Kräfte Israels hetzt, insbesondere gegen die KP Israels und HADASH und mehr noch gegen die im israelischen Staat ansässige arabisch-palästinensische Bevölkerung.

Gestern (Samstag, 19. Juli) demonstrierten Hunderte von uns – Juden und Araber-Palästinenser gemeinsam – in Haifa gegen die israelische Aggression. Wir wurden vom jüdischen Neonazi-Mob geschlagen und verfolgt, einige von uns wurden mit Steinen und Flaschen verletzt, die auf uns geworfen wurden. Die Polizei verhaftete 13 unserer Mitglieder, obwohl niemand von ihnen in irgendeine Gewaltaktion verwickelt war.

Genossen, wir werden weitermachen! Wir werden uns niemals der Einschüchterung und Gewalt ergeben: Gaza, wir von der KP Israels und von HADASH, Juden wie Araber, werden unseren Kampf für die Befreiung des palästinensischen Volkes fortsetzen!

Juden und Araber sind nicht Feinde, sondern Genossen – Brüder und Schwestern!

Befreit Gaza!
Nieder mit der Besatzung!
Lange lebe das unabhängige Palästina!