‘Zionist Left’ to gather in Kikar Zion Sat. night

Peace Now and other organizations gather under the banner “Zionists aren’t settlers.”

Jerusalem’s Kikar Zion, which has been the site of many right-wing rallies, will host a different kind of demonstration on Saturday night when Peace Now and other left-wing organizations gather under the banner “Zionists aren’t settlers.”
The rally was organized by Labor chairman Ehud Barak’s disgruntled former bureau chief Eldad Yaniv’s National Left Movement, which aims to rebuild the Left from the ground up, encourage Zionism among the left wing, and serve as an umbrella for parties to the left of Kadima in the next election.
“We have been working for months to wake up the Zionist Left in Israel,” Yaniv said. “We have held parlor meetings across the country three or four times a week, and now we have decided to return to the streets with Israeli flags and say that Zionists aren’t settlers, and that the time has come to end the occupation and build a society that can be a light unto the nations.”
Yaniv said that Kikar Zion had been purposely chosen as the site of the rally because it was considered a symbol of the Right. He said the rally would emphasize that the square in particular, and Jerusalem and the country in general, belonged equally to the Left.
Unlike other rallies on the Left that have been taken over by anti-Zionist parties and movements, Israeli flags will be handed out at the entrances to Saturday night’s rally, and pop star Ahinoam Nini will sing “Hatikva.”
The organizers said most of the speakers at the event would be young leaders, and that no current MKs would speak. But the rally will be addressed by haredi former Meretz MK Tzvia Greenfield; Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer, who has twice run for the Knesset; and Yaniv, who has not yet decided whether to run for the next Knesset.
Meretz, the Geneva Initiative, left-wing movements from Israeli universities, the Hashomer Hatza’ir youth movement and the Labor Youth organization that Barak banished from the party will also take part in the rally.
Kibbutz Movement leader Yoel Marshak announced that his movement would not take part, but Meretz chairman Haim Oron, who lives on Kibbutz Lahav, said Marshak had no right to make such a decision and vowed that thousands of kibbutzniks would come.
Organizers expressed concern that the rally could be hurt by a Hapoel Tel Aviv-Betar Jerusalem soccer game taking place at the same time. But they said they hoped enough people would come to make a statement.
“We want to speak to the Zionist Left in ‘blue and white’ and give them the feeling that they are at home,” Oppenheimer said. “After a week in which right-wing ministers competed over who could be more extreme, it’s important that our sane voice be heard loud and clear.”