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Occupation magazine - Activism

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Thousands in Tel Aviv march to protest loyalty oath
By BEN HARTMAN--October 16, 2010

Organizers say demonstration against `Liebermanism, the threats of transfer, and the legislative initiatives of the past week.`

Thousands marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday, to protest a recently passed citizenship amendment commonly referred to as the loyalty oath. Protesters also voiced their opposition to what they described as a rising tide of fascism in Israel, as well as the growing legitimization of calls to transfer Arabs out of Israel.

Entitled `Together against Racism ן½ Arab and Jewish march for democracy`, the march from Gan Meir park to the Defense Ministry headquarters brought together demonstrators from the left-wing Hadash and Meretz parties, members of a number of NGOs and activists groups, and thousands of unaffiliated protesters.

Organizers said the protest march was called to `protest the murky tide of Liebermanism, the threats of transfer, and the legislative initiatives of the past week and those planned for the coming months.`

The group also said it is protesting `the dangerous retreat of Israeli democracy`

The controversial amendment was approved by the Israel cabinet on Sunday, October 10th by a vote of 22 to 8. Under the amendment, non-Jews trying to become citizens must pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

The 8 opposing votes included five ministers from the Labor party and three from the Likud.

Many protesters, including Hadash Party Chairman Dov Henin spoke about what they said is the mainstreaming of calls to transfer Arabs from Israel proper, mentioning a police and prison service exercise earlier in October as evidence.

Speaking outside the Defense Ministry, Henin said `transfer is no longer something that only the extreme parties talk about, or that is only on the extreme margins,` adding that `we must fight this and that is one of the reasons we are here today.`

On October 7th, Israel Radio reported that security forces held a large-scale exercise in the north of Israel the day before partly to prepare for a scenario in which Israeli Arab riots break out in the wake of a population exchange agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

In response to controversy that greeted publication of the exercise, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said the exercise `was to train officers for an imaginary incident dealing with demonstrations, and does not indicate any sort of standing or intentioned policies.`

Israeli `Elka Kaye` (not her real name), was at the march on Saturday, and said it brought up memories of her past protesting fascism in the UK, before she immigrated to Israel in the 1960s.

`I remember standing in Trafalgar Square (in London) to protest fascism 40 years ago. And now here I am doing the same in Israel,` Kaye said, adding that watching what is happening in Israel gives her `a terrible, sad feeling, I`m crying on the inside.`
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