Home > Jerusalem, Suppression of Dissent > Sara Benninga’s rousing speech at the Sheikh Jarrah rally: There is a new Left in town!

Sara Benninga’s rousing speech at the Sheikh Jarrah rally: There is a new Left in town!

Sara Benninga

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)

Banner calling for March 6 2010 rally in Sheikh Jarrah

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!

  1. March 8, 2010 at 16:38

    As human beings, we cannot help but be subject to our preferences. However, we do have control over the manner in which these manifest themselves in our lives. Every value we hold dear is an expression of either support or opposition, and it is our perspective that determines whether we are for something or against it. As an example of a situation we are all familiar with at this time: We can direct our energy and intentions into activities that promote peace rather than using our resources to speak out in opposition of war. On the surface, these appear to be two interchangeable methods of expressing one virtue, yet being for something is a vastly more potent means of inspiring change because it carries with it the power of constructive intent.

    When you support a cause, whether your support is active or passive, you contribute to the optimism that fuels all affirmative change. Optimistic thoughts energize people, giving them hope and inspiring them to work diligently on behalf of what they believe in. Being for something creates a positive shift in the universe, which means that neither you nor those who share your vision will have any trouble believing that transformation on a grand scale is indeed possible. To be against something is typically easy, as you need only speak out in opposition to it. Standing up for something is often more challenging, because you may be introducing an idea to people that may scare them on a soul level.

    Throughout your life, you have likely been told that the actions of one person will seldom have a measurable impact on the world. Yet your willingness to stand up for what you believe in instead of decrying what you oppose can turn the tides of fate. The thoughts you project when you choose to adopt a positive perspective will provide you with a means to actively promote your values and, eventually, foster lasting change.

    • Sumud
      March 11, 2010 at 09:34

      After all that, please clarify what you are actually trying to say, as it relates to the I/P conflict.

  2. conscience
    March 9, 2010 at 17:23

    BRAVO Sara! Justice HAS to prevail with this kind of conviction and determination though obstacles will have to be overcome and they will be. All the power to you and your co-activists, in solidarity from around the world.

  3. March 17, 2010 at 15:58

    Kol HaKavod. Although http://www.leadel.net is more or less apolitical, it is good to see this kind of inspiring activism on behalf of young Jews!

  4. January 24, 2011 at 06:39

    wish i could join you (age 77)

  5. annie
    March 1, 2011 at 08:48

    i love this post. so good to see it in ‘top posts’ today.

    i wrote a haiku about her and posted it on new years day on mondoweiss during our mondoawards wrap up.

    Sara spellbinds me

    wild gushing hope tears from me

    Young Brave standing there

  1. March 8, 2010 at 17:49
  2. March 9, 2010 at 01:59
  3. March 9, 2010 at 02:13
  4. March 9, 2010 at 03:23
  5. March 9, 2010 at 17:19
  6. March 19, 2010 at 00:49
  7. March 27, 2010 at 04:08
  8. April 11, 2010 at 12:55
  9. April 13, 2010 at 18:19
  10. April 26, 2010 at 14:38
  11. January 2, 2011 at 03:44
  12. January 24, 2011 at 09:04
  13. February 27, 2011 at 05:58
  14. March 8, 2011 at 14:01
  15. October 3, 2011 at 21:47
  16. January 5, 2012 at 23:56

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