Sara Benninga’s rousing speech at the Sheikh Jarrah rally: There is a new Left in town!
In his succinct post on the March 6 2010 rally in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerry Haber at the Magnes Zionist wrote
in my opinion, the highlight of the night was a speech delivered by young Israeli activist, Sarah Benninga, who spoke about the New Left and the New Right.
I agree. It was rousing, articulating the thinking and spirit that has enabled a small group of activists to succeed singlehandedly in launching a protest movement. Sara, a 28 year-old student living in Jerusalem is one of those activists. For months, we have become used to seeing her, megaphone in hand, leading the protesters in slogans and songs, both at Sheikh Jarrah and, except for the weekend when she was arrested, outside the police holding cells during the Saturday night hearings.
Here’s the full text of the speech (slightly different translation on the group’s website)
Sheikh Jarrah, March 6, 2010
There is a new Left in town!
There is a new Left and it is a Left that is not satisfied with peace talks. It is a Left that fights!
There is a new Left that knows there are things you must fight against even when they are identified with the State and even when they enjoy the protection of the law!
There is a new Left that knows that this fight will not be won on paper but on the ground, in the hills, in the vineyards and in the olive groves.
There is a new Left that is not afraid of the settlers, even when they descend on it from the hilltops, blindfolded and armed.
This Left does not surrender to the police’s political repression, and does not care what they write about it in Maariv. There is a new Left in town!
This Left does not want to be loved, does not fantasize about town squares and does not bask in the memory of the 400,000. This Left is a partnership between Palestinians, who understand the occupation will not be defeated by missiles and bombs, and Israelis, who understand that the Palestinian struggle is their struggle.
The new Left joins hands with Palestinians in a cloud of tear gas at Bil’in and gets beaten up together with them by settlers at the South Hebron Mountain.
This Left stands by refugees and labor migrants in Tel Aviv and fights against the Wisconsin Plan.
The new Left is us — all of us!
Everyone who came here tonight. Everyone who dared cross the imaginary line between West and East Jerusalem, despite the threats and intimidation.
We are all the new Left that is emerging in Israel and Palestine.
We are not fighting for a peace agreement. We are fighting for justice. But we believe that injustice is the main obstacle to peace.
There will be no peace until the Ghawi and Hanoun and al-Kurd families return to their homes. Because peace does not grow on a soil of discrimination, oppression and theft.
There is a new Left in town and that Left stands with the people of Sheikh Jarrah tonight and will continue standing with them until justice defeats fanaticism.
But there is also a new Right in town.
A Right awash with fanaticism and racism that seduces the masses with nationalist rhetoric.
The new Right does not care about the welfare and well-being of human beings. The new Right only cares about ethnic, tribal, Liebermanistic loyalty.
For the new Right charity begins at home only for Jews. And what makes a person a Jew is the fact that they are not an Arab.
The new Right has nothing to offer except for endless war.
The new Right is the empty wagon that went off the rails: religious and secular Jews who have nothing but hatred of the other: the Arabs the refugee, the leftist.
That new Right manufactures the deluded settlers, because of whom we are demonstrating tonight.
Those settlers hate Jerusalem. They do not love the Jewish people and they do not love mankind. They love only themselves.
Among the settlers there are many with whom we should speak. But the settlers of Sheikh Jarrah, who sing canticles to Baruch Goldstein — they must be defeated.
The new Right created Nir Barkat. A technocrat who does not understand Jerusalem and does not care about Jerusalem. A mayor who uses administrative terror against the residents of East Jerusalem and neglects the residents of West Jerusalem, while reciting endless clichés.
If Jerusalem is a powder keg, the match that might light it is called Nir Barkat.
But we are not afraid of Barkat, nor are we afraid of the settlers, nor are we afraid of Lieberman.
We will keep coming to Sheikh Jarrah and to every place where justice is trampled by the forces of occupation and oppression.
Look around you. We are not as few as we thought! And we will win!