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January 15, 2011

Twenty thousand march in Tel-Aviv against McCarthyism, racism and fascism

samedi 15 janvier 2011, par Parti communiste d’Israėl

Twenty thousands of activists, Jews and Arabs, from left-wing movements,
parties and human rights organizations march in Tel Aviv on Saturday
(January 15, 2001) in protest of the Knesset’s decision to set up a
committee of inquiry to probe the funding sources of human rights movements.

The protest march, under the headline “Demonstration (since it’s still
possible) for democracy”, left from Tel Aviv’s Meir Park, in front of the
Likud headquarters, toward the plaza in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art,
where a rally take place in which Knesset members from Hadash, Kadima and
Meretz as well as officials from Peace Now and human rights groups deliver
speeches.

Protesters chanted in support of democracy and free speech and against
racism and fascism, and carried hundreds of red flags and signs with slogans
such as “Jews and Arabs together against Fascism”, “Awaiting Democracy”,
“Danger – End of Democracy Ahead !”, “Fighting the Rightist Government of
Darkness” and “Democracy is Screaming for Help”. Among the MKs taking part
in the event were Dov Khenin (Hadash), Afo Agbarie (Hadash), Meir Sheetrit
(Kadima), Hanna Swaid (Hadash), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) and Mohammad
Barakeh (the Chairman of Hadash, the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality
– Communist Party of Israel).

MK Horowitz inveighed against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense
Minister Ehud Barak, whom he said were “supporting Lieberman’s incitement
and encouraging racist legislation in the Knesset”. “Tonight we are telling
the Labor Party that it is a full partner of the most racist government in
state history, and that they must leave it immediately,” he said. Peace Now
Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said at the rally that Israel was
suffering not only from the Iranian threat but also from the “Liebermanian
threat”.

Hadash Chairman Barakeh said, “We are at a dangerous crossroads where
democracy is concerned. Democracy is collapsing, not because of Lieberman
but because of the support he is receiving from the prime minister. Jews and
Arabs who care about democracy cannot fail at this time. Anyone who wishes
to know the power of the people can look to Tunisia”. In the same vein he
added, “The victory of the people in Tunis over cruel dictatorship teaches
us that oppression is not the fate of mankind and the people can win.”

MK Sheetrit denounced Foreign Minster Avigdor Lieberman’s proposal to probe
the funding sources of human rights organizations. “If such legislation is
passed, it will be like taking a brick out of the wall of democracy. I am
surprised that Likud members support this. It’s simply shameful that they
can sit in a government that makes such a proposal,” he said.

MK Khenin said during the protest that “the thousands of people who are here
understand that our democracy needs protection against its destroyers. We
are voicing a clear voice in support of human rights and democracy, and
against racism, fascism, McCarthyism and future destruction of the
democratic values. We will continue to fight for democratic rights, freedom
of speech, equal rights for Jews and Arabs and the end of the occupation.”

List of participating organizations in the Emergency rally

Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) // Communist Party of
Israel // ACRI (Association For Civil Rights in Israel // Meretz // New
Israel Fund // Peace Now // The Kibbutz Movement // The Progressive Movement
// The Green Movement // Physicians for Human Rights // The Geneva
Initiative // Ha’Shomer Ha’tzair // Yisrael Hofshit (Free Israel) //
Coalition of Women for Peace // Public Committee Against Torture // Yesh
Gvul // Shutafut/Sharakah – Organizations for a Shared, Democratic and
Egalitarian Society : Agenda, The Abraham Fund, Negev Institute – NISPED,
Sikkuy, Kav Mashve, Keshev, Shatil // Gush Shalom // Yesh Din // Almuntada
Altakadumi – The Progressive Circle in Ar’ara // Negev Coexistence Forum //
Peace NGO’s Forum // Amnesty International Israel // Banki-Shabiba – Young
Communist League // Hagada Hasmalit Alternative Cultural Center in Tel-Aviv
// Tandi – Democratic Women’s Movement // Parents Circle – Families Forum //
Social Workers for Peace and Social Welfare // Arab Movement for Renewal //
Mossawa Centre – the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel // Adalah –
the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel // Yesh Din – Volunteers
for Human Rights // Machsom Watch // Tarabut-Hithabrut // Rabbis for Human
Rights // Ir Amim // Maan – Workers’ Advice Center // Daam – Workers Party
// Syndianna Galilee for Fair Trade // Israeli Children // Campus Le’Kulanu
– Left Students Movement, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Haifa
University // ASSAF – Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in
Israel // ICAHD – The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions // Social
TV // Socialist Struggle // Labor Party Young Guard // HAMOKED – Center for
the Defense of the Individual // BINA – Center for Jewish Identity, Hebrew
Culture and Social Justice // AIC – Alternative Information Center // Our
Heritage – The Charter for Democracy //

 

source : by e-mail

Tunisia’s national anthem 1958-1987

Not Twitter, Not WikiLeaks: A Human Revolution

Beginning this afternoon, shortly after (former) president Ben Ali fled Tunisia, I started getting calls about the effect of social media on the Tunisian uprising. I answered a few questions, mostly deferring reporters to friends in Tunisia for their side of the story, and then settled in for the night…only to find rantings and ravings about Tunisia’s “Twitter revolution” and “WikiLeaks revolution” blowing up the airwaves.

Like Alaa Abd El Fattah, I think it’s too soon to tell what the true impact of social media was on the events of the past few weeks. I also think it’s a bit irresponsible of Western analysts to start pontificating on the relevance of social media to the Tunisian uprising without talking to Tunisians (there are notable exceptions; Ethan Zuckerman’s piece for Foreign Policy is spot on, Matthew Ingram does a nice job of opening the debate here, and Evgeny Morozov’s analysis–which starts with this great piece–is ongoing).

But for each thoughtful, skeptical piece, there is yet another claiming the unknowable. In this piece, for example, Elizabeth Dickinson of Foreign Policy writes:

Of course, Tunisians didn’t need anyone to tell them [about the excesses of the first family]. But the details noted in the cables — for example, the fact that the first lady may have made massive profits off a private school — stirred things up.

By all Tunisian accounts, WikiLeaks had little–if anything–to do with the protests; rather, the protests were spurred by unemployment and economic woes.  Furthermore, Tunisians have been documenting abuses by the Ben Ali regime and the first family for years, as Zuckerman notes.  In fact,  Dickinson seems to realize this herself, and yet for some reason still attempts to argue that WikiLeaks was a catalyst in the unrest.

Andrew Sullivan, who praised Dickinson’s piece, seems to have decided for himself that social media was used as a tool for organizing:

The core test is whether Twitter and online activism helped organize protests. It appears they did, even through government censorship. Wikileaks also clearly helped. So did al Jazeera, for those who see it entirely as an Islamist front.

I’m not sure by what means such an idea appeared to Sullivan, but I haven’t heard it said yet–not once–by a Tunisian.  Until I do, I’ll remain skeptical (though Sullivan’s praise of Al Jazeera is welcome).

Now, I’m not about to discount social media’s relationship to the Tunisian uprising.  For one, it most certainly played a huge role in getting videos, photos, and news out to the world–and not just to a public audience, but to news organizations as well.  Al Jazeera–which had some of the best coverage of Tunisia over the past few weeks–relied heavily on sources gleaned from social networks for much of its print work, as did other organizations.  Tunisian blogs and news sources–such as Nawaat and SBZ News–filled in the gaps left by the mainstream media’s shoddy reporting of the events. And speaking from personal experience, I was able to connect a lot of Tunisians–some of whom I’ve never met in real life–with journalists because of our connections on Facebook and Twitter.

But to call this a “Twitter revolution” or even a “WikiLeaks revolution” demonstrates that we haven’t learned anything from past experiences in Moldova and Iran.  Evgeny Morozov’s question–”Would this revolution have happened if there were no Facebook and Twitter?”–says it all.  And in this case, yes, I–like most Tunisians to whom I’ve posed this question–believe that this would have happened without the Internet.

The real question, then, is would the rest of us have heard about it without the Internet?  Would the State Department have gotten involved early on (remember, their first public comment was in respect to Tunisian Net freedom)?  Would Al Jazeera–without offices on the ground–have been able to report on the unfolding story as they did?  Most importantly, would any of that have mattered?

Social media may have had some tangential effect on organization within Tunisia; I think it’s too soon to say.  No doubt, SMS and e-mail (not to be mistaken with social media) helped Tunisians keep in touch during, before, and after protests, but no one’s hyping those–e-mails and texts simply aren’t as fascinating to the public as tweets.  In fact, assuming SMS and e-mail did play a role in organizing (and again, I don’t doubt they did — Tunisian’s Internet penetration rate may be only 33%, but its mobile penetration rate is closer to 85%), then we ought to be asking what it is about social media that is unappealing for organization?  Could it be the sheer publicness of it, the inherent risks of posting one’s location for the world to see?  Given the mass phishing of Facebook accounts, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Facebook were seen as risky (Gmail accounts were also hacked, however, which undoubtedly led some to view digital communications in general as risky).

I am incredibly thrilled for and proud of my Tunisian friends.  This is an incredible victory and one unlikely to fade from popular memory anytime soon.  And I am glad that Tunisians were able to utilize social media to bring attention to their plight.  But I will not dishonor the memory of Mohamed Bouazizi–or the 65 others that died on the streets for their cause–by dubbing this anything but a human revolution.

Arab Bloggers Cheer on Tunisia’s Revolution

By ROBERT MACKEY

Last Updated | 5:36 p.m. As my colleague David Kirkpatrick reports from Tunisia, the authoritarian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, has fled the country after weeks of chaotic street protests that his security forces have been unable to stifle.

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