As the body count rises in Syria, a group of activists held a candlelight vigil
on Saturday night outside the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv to protest Moscow’s
defense of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
On the Facebook page
advertising the event, organizers called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to
“take a brave action and announce the opening of the northern border for Syrian
refugees looking for shelter” from the violent conflict between opposition
groups and Assad’s government forces, who have been accused of the large-scale
massacre of citizens.
Organizers said the event was held to show support
for the Syrian people “who are being butchered” by the Assad regime and to voice
their protest against Russia and China, who last week vetoed a UN Security
Council resolution that condemned Assad’s crackdown.
Across the street
from the embassy on Saturday evening, a woman with a megaphone led a chant in
Arabic, saying, “Get out, Assad! Get out, you liar! You killer!” By the third refrain, the non-Arabic speakers had picked up
the words and the cadence, but the lights inside the Russian embassy remained
The woman with the megaphone, Asma Agbaria Zahalka, said that the
approximately two dozen protesters came to show solidarity with the people
against Assad and to send a message that Israel is part of the Middle East and
not an island detached from the tumult of the region.
When asked if she
thinks that Assad and others could use images from the protest to argue that the
Jews and Zionists are supporting the anti-regime uprising in Syria, she said,
“He’s already said that 1,000 times. It doesn’t matter.”
that, despite the low turnout, she was convinced that the protest showed that
the summer’s “social justice” protesters had finally begun embracing the Arab
The protest did feature many familiar faces from the Rothschild
tent city that was the epicenter of the social justice movement. In keeping with
the spirit of the movement, the Saturday night protest included an “open stage”
and the megaphone was open to whomever wished to speak.
a young woman wearing a “Free Palestine” shirt and holding a Syrian flag who
spoke of the carnage in recent weeks in the Syrian city of Homs, and a young man
who took the megaphone to promote a sign-language street protest against Assad
outside the Habima Theater in Tel Aviv next week.
In addition, a number
of obscene slogans were shouted at the embassy in Hebrew and Russian.
one point, someone called for a chant in English, to which one protester
answered, “Russians don’t speak English.”
The signs on display
articulated the crowd’s sentiments perhaps better than any slogan. These
included a poorly translated English sign that read, “People alive buried under
the slogans and you are only with useless diplomacy.”
accused China and Russia of supporting widespread “slaughter.” One sign that was
the hardest to misunderstand, however, included a caricature of Assad with a
Hitler-style mustache, wearing a swastika armband.