Make Israel Pay, Then Dismantle It, Protestors Say

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT

( - Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to protest Israel's bombing campaign against Hizballah positions in Lebanon. Some argued that the nation of Israel should be dismantled and returned to the Palestinians.

Repeatedly referring to Israel as a "terrorist state," the protestors shouted that the Israeli government should "end this racist war." Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Jews United Against Zionism was met with scattered cheers when he said the bombings are "embarrassing for Jewish people" and that Israel should be "totally dismantled, and the entire Holy Land should be returned to the indigenous Palestinian population." See video

The demonstrators called on Israel and Hizballah to bring an end to the violence but some were reluctant to place blame on Hizballah for its role in sparking the current violence.

"Since they [Hizballah] didn't initiate it," Keren Batiyov of Jewish Voice for Peace said, "I would see that it's Israel's responsibility to withdraw and come to a ceasefire."

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Israel began bombing Lebanese territory July 12 after Hizballah ventured into northern Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Batiyov said she believes that the soldiers "were actually in Lebanon when they were captured." See video

Others, like Rama Taib, said Israel should be responsible for rebuilding the parts of Lebanon that its bombs have destroyed because it enjoys the financial support of the United States. Taib said that "millions and millions of dollars are going to have to [be spent], for people to be able to repair Lebanon and I think Israel needs to pay for that." See video

But Taib said Hizballah shouldn't have to pay for the damage it has caused in Israeli cities like Haifa because there is an "imbalance" in the damage and "the United States already aids Israel [so it] has plenty of money." See video

A spokesman for the embassy did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night and nobody entered or left the embassy's main gate during the rally, but on its website the embassy defends Israel's retaliation against what it calls "an unprovoked cross-border attack from Lebanese territory."

According to the embassy, the purpose of Israel's bombing campaign is "to free its abducted soldiers and to remove the terrorist threat from its northern border."

A major focus of the protest was the death of hundreds of Lebanese civilians during the bombings of Hizballah targets. Protest organizers estimated that as many as one third of the 400 estimated deaths have been children, prompting chants of "how many children have you killed today?"

But the embassy states on its website that the bombing campaign "only targets facilities which directly serve the terrorist organizations in their attacks on Israel." The web statement blames Hizballah for civilian deaths because "the terrorists have purposely hidden themselves and stockpiled their missiles in residential areas" of Lebanon.

The protestors called for an immediate end to Israel's attack on Lebanon, but the Israeli Embassy states that the attacks will not stop until Goldwasser and Regev are returned and the Lebanese Army expels Hizballah from southern Lebanon, where it poses a threat to northern Israel.

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