Leader of '73 protest against Meir joins demonstration against PM

In a highly symbolic move, Moti Ashkenazi, the reserve officer who led the protest which eventually led to the downfall of the Golda Meir government after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, has joined the burgeoning public protest of reservists against the government for its handling of the war in Lebanon. "In both these wars, both the political and military echelons failed completely," Ashkenazi said Tuesday night at a protest by reservists opposite the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. "The stories of mistakes and failures we are hearing today are similar to the ones of 33 years ago." Voicing his faith in "people power," Ashkenazi said that a million people needed to publicly voice no-confidence in the government to spur the Knesset to bring about its downfall, far more than the turnout at the protests to date, but within reach over time. "I can feel the earth moving under our feet," he said in an address to several hundred reservists who gathered in the Wohl Rose Garden. "The public is much more aware of its power today than it was then." A huge banner called for the resignation of Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz. Meanwhile, about a dozen parents who lost sons in the war have joined ranks with the reservists to protest the handling of the war. They have signed a petition calling on Olmert and Peretz to quit and are planning to hold a protest march to Jerusalem on Friday. "We call on the prime minister: Don't exhaust us. We have suffered enough, we have just returned as soldiers from the battle... Spare us at least this struggle. Resign immediately," the petition states. The group plans to present it to Olmert on Friday, or start an open-ended protest. Other bereaved families have said that the public should unite around the IDF and the government.