Israelis dance for peace
By news.com.au – 24 May, 2002
IN In a fresh twist for Israel’s peace movement, thousands of young people put on their dancing trainers in Tel Aviv for the first “rave” to protest against the occupation of Palestinian lands.
The dance party last night at the plaza of the city’s art museum drew more than 3,000 people, mostly twenty-somethings who want a peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but find the usual slogan-shouting protests too boring, organisers said.
“For many people in Israel, having a left-wing agenda is really not cool. It’s supposedly one of the most naive things people can think,” said one of the protesters, 25-year-old Aviad.
Like many of the others dancing around him, the musician said he had refused to serve in the army because of the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which has sparked a ferocious 20-month uprising by the Palestinian side.
“There’s nothing strange here except there’s a war going on a few kilometres away from here,” he said.
The protesters danced for several hours to thumping techno music played from a DJ booth on a stage beside two large video screens which showed spliced images of the occupation and violent children’s cartoons.
Many wore the outlandish or revealing outfits which have become standard at raves around the world.
Several ravers dressed in mock army uniforms walked on stilts and fired water pistols at the sweating dancers.
A macabre “Miss Israel” paraded through the crowd with a “bouquet” of flowers, a plastic gun and a stump of a mannequin’s leg painted with fake blood.
About halfway into the protest, a minute of silence was held in memory of the more than 2,000 people on both sides who have died during the current uprising.
“Young people are fed up with politics. This experiment was trying to bring politics (into their lives) through the back door,” said Dima, a 30-year-old graduate student with spiked black hair and a nose ring.
“The rave idea brought many people here today who are not identified with activism, to bring in clubbers and ecstasy eaters,” he said.
Rave parties have become infamous for their association with the party drug ecstasy, but organisers had stressed drugs would not be tolerated.
Scores of police were also deployed in the area to protect demonstrators from attacks by either Jewish extremists or Palestinian militants.
Later that night a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside a nightclub in southern Tel Aviv after being fired at by a security guard, injuring two people, according to Israeli army radio.
On Wednesday night, a Palestinian suicide bomber also killed two people and wounded dozens of others in an attack near a park in a suburb of the city, while another bomb set fire to a tanker truck in the country’s main fuel depot in a populated area just to the north.
“After the terrorist actions which took place last night and this morning, it’s good to see people still wanted to come out,” said one of the organisers, 25-year-old law student Eyel Oron.
Both the organisers and ravers also said they hoped the protest would add momentum to the peace movement, which had been flagging after a wave of devastating suicide bombings earlier this year.
But the left-wing groups made a strong comeback earlier this month after the army’s Operation Defensive Shield against militant groups in the West Bank which marked its largest military offensive since the 1967 war.
More than 60,000 demonstrators turned out in Tel Aviv earlier this month for the largest peace rally since the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000.
“Israel has many people who are involved (in the peace movement), but as more time passes they become apathetic. You go to protests and it’s very serious and heavy and maybe this is a chance to bring a little light into it,” said Andrew Lanezos, a 29-year-old doctoral student in anthropology.
“The hope is that more and more people might join parties and realise there’s more to life than killing and fighting,” he said.