New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel group in the United States, has expressed dismay at Sharon’s decision to not allow hundreds of buses carrying tens of thousands of Israeli citizens to attend an anti-Gaza retreat rally. Police officers are taking away the driver’s licenses and permits from the bus drivers. Nevertheless, people from all over the country, including Jerusalem, Ra’anan and Kiryat Shemora have begun to march toward Netivot, the rally site. Police are also setting up roadblocks in Judea and Samaria and from Kiryat Shemora to Eilat in an effort to intercept protesters before they neared the rally start-point.
Leaders of the rally said that the Israeli government had “crossed a red line.” They also claimed that the police “reneged” on previous agreements.
ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “It seems to us that attending a rally to support or oppose a policy of any government is a fundamental right of free speech. We are perplexed and dismayed by what is going on. I, myself, participated in dozens of rallies protesting the war in Vietnam in the 1960s. I also participated in dozens of rallies to support civil rights and voting rights for African-Americans in the 1960s. The forced removal of 10,000 Israeli Jewish men, woman and children from their homes, farms, schools, synagogues, and businesses is a human rights issue too, especially when there is no agreement of peace or no clear benefit evident, and may even increase the terror attacks on Israel.
As Natan Sharansky said, ‘I oppose the disengagement Plan which is a tragic mistake that will exacerbate the conflict with the Palestinians, increase terrorism, and dim the prospects of forging a genuine peace.’ Outgoing Chief of the IDF, Gen. Moshe Ya’alon said this week to a Knesset committee that this Plan will ‘blow up in our face’ and said that Sharon ‘never consulted me or my staff ‘as to whether this Plan was a good idea militarily; ‘he presented it to us’ as a fait accompli after he came back from talks with President Bush and Secretary Rice concerning the plan. Even leading journalist, Danny Rubinstein, writing for Ha’aretz, has now stated that we should not withdraw from Gaza because it sends a message that Kassam rockets, suicide bombings, and mortars against Israelis, pay.”