Protesting for Peace

25 January 2024
Protesters in Tel Aviv

On January 18, thousands of Israelis–Jewish and Palestinian–took to the streets, chanting “only peace will bring security.” NIF grantees Standing Together, Women Wage Peace, and so many others organized in cities across Israel—their demands? An end to the war and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and the freeing of Israeli hostages. This last protest, which was the largest protest critical of Israel’s war to date, was hard won. The week prior, based on an appeal from the right-wing organization “Btzalmo”, the police blocked two rallies—one in Haifa and one in Tel Aviv—our grantees planned in Tel Aviv, citing concerns for “the disruption of public order”. 

The organizers filed a petition against the police’s decision, arguing that their fundamental right to freedom of expression and protest was being systematically violated by the police. Israel’s supreme court justices agreed. 

In their written decision, the justices wrote that they felt it was necessary to state something that “should be self-evident”: “The ability to hold a demonstration is not a special privilege, but rather a fundamental right. This is even more relevant in times of war, even if practical aspects may limit the scope of the permit granted. Similarly, threats of violence from third parties cannot be used as a consideration that limits the possibility of protesting.” 

This last week, NIF grantees planned an even bigger protest—and the police allowed it. Standing Together, Women Wage Peace, Breaking the Silence, Machsom Watch, Combatants for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, Yesh Din, Mehazkim, A Land for All, and over a dozen other organizations came together in Tel Aviv. 

Rula Daood of Standing Together, was one of the speakers on the podium. “I understand all of the eulogies: Those that are said in Hebrew and those that are said in Arabic,” she told the crowd of protestors. “We are here to say as clearly as possible: Only ending the war will free the hostages. Only a ceasefire agreement will save [the] lives of innocents in Gaza. Only Israeli-Palestinian peace will lead to security.”