Monday, August 28, 2006

Update On the Protests Against the Government

The protest movement against the government's handling of the war in Lebanon is continuing, albeit slowly. Ynetnews.com reports about some reserve soldiers marching from Tel-Aviv - (where they set up a protest tent in Rabin Square) to Jerusalem. Ehud Olmert is supposed to announce this evening (although he has put this off once already) what type of inquiry he will set up. If he chooses a government inquiry (versus the State Commission of Inquiry which is more objective and has more teeth) than the reservists predict that the protests will intensify.

In fact, there are a number of protests going on simultaneously (you know, two Jews, three synagogues. In Israel this translates into political positions). The reservists, who are justifiably angry over the government screw-ups, are calling for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to immediately resign. (For some interviews in English of IDF reservists who served in Lebanon and are now protesting, go to the OneJerusalemBlog here.)

Another group, led by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, is protesting down the street from the reservists, and is currently holding a hunger strike. They are pushing for a State Commission of Inquiry, because they feel that the problems shown up in the war are not just a function of these three individuals, but a function of the inherent problems in the government as a whole, and that a State Inquiry will bring these to light.

I am always wary of these types of groups - because behind the neutral sounding names sometimes hides extremely left (and occasionally, right) wing groups. This one really is a non-partisan, non-profit group that refuses to lobby the Knesset - because they want to be neutral. I laughed out loud when reading their FAQ section, and came across the very straightforward question "Are you just one of those left-wing groups that always bashes the right?" The answer, of course, was no. (My main problem with the group is that it is made up of lawyers and their main approach is to petition the Supreme Court here. Nothing wrong with that - but it doesn't address the problem of the extreme bias of the court itself. Still, they do some good work).

Both groups are being asked to suspend their protests on Thursday in order to join the families of the kidnapped soldiers who are organizing a big rally on Thursday evening in Rabin Square.

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