Israelis Demonstrate in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Against Turkish Invasion of Kurdish Region of Syria
An interfaith group of Israeli Jews and Christians gathered in Jerusalem’s Paris Square on Saturday to protest the recently launched Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurds.
The organizer of the demonstration, Rabbi Roni Lesser, told Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, “I’m a simple person, but as a Jew I can’t see what’s going on and shut up.”
As the idea of a protest spread on social media, he said, “Christians from the Old City contacted me, so the event gained interfaith cooperation.”
Rabbi Yaakov Meidan, who spoke at the protest, called for Israel to recognize the Armenian Genocide — which Turkey still denies — and said that while Germany has taken responsibility for committing genocide, Turkey has not.
Tehila Friedman, another participant, said, “I am a third generation Holocaust survivor and we often ask why the world was silent. Today we are part of the world, and the minimum we can do is not be silent and empathize [with the victims]. The ability to reach out and express solidarity has meaning.”
A young resident of Jerusalem, Haggai Hershman, also attended the protest, saying, “I have come to feel the reality of the Kurdish people, to try to understand what is happening there, to make their reality our reality, and to show that we must identify [with them] and act in their favor.”
According to Israeli news website Mako, another protest took place in Tel Aviv on Sunday morning, with more than 100 demonstrators expressing solidarity with the Kurds outside the Turkish embassy.
“We will not forget or be afraid,” the protesters chanted. “The Kurdish people are not alone.”
Among other slogans, the demonstrators shouted for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “Leave the Kurds alone,” as well as asking “Who will lift the finger to stop the attack?”
Avishay Borla, the protest’s organizer, said that Israelis must speak out to “stop the bloodbath.”
“In an ocean of the political and cynical interests of foreign powers, human beings are needed,” he said.
“If human life is still worth anything in this world, the madness that is happening next to us must stop,” he added.
Another organizer, Tal Hartham, said, “All the warning lights are on: The abandonment by the United States, Erdogan’s declarations, and an invasion that has already begun.”
“A murderous bloodbath is going to happen here next to us and anyone who thinks this reality will not affect us is closing his eyes,” he added.
The Israeli protests come as thousands marched in Paris on Saturday to support the Kurds, France 24 reported.
They waved Kurdish flags, denounced President Donald Trump as a “serial killer” for greenlighting the Turkish invasion, and called Erdogan “the true leader of ISIS.”
Protests also took place in French cities Marseille, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lille, and Grenoble.
Additional protests took place in Cologne, Budapest, Vienna, and Zurich.
Last Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the Turkish action.
“Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” the prime minister stated.
“Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people,” he added.
Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also weighed in, drawing an oblique comparison to the Holocaust, tweeting, “Our national memory requires us to revolt against violence directed against another nation. Such is the Turkish violence directed against the Kurdish people in northern Syria.”
“I have said this in the past: It is in the interest of both Israel and the United States, for the security and stability of the region, that a Kurdish state be established,” Shaked asserted.
“The Kurds are the world’s largest nation without a country, with a population of about 35 million people,” she added. “They are an ancient people that share a special historical connection to the Jewish people.”
“The Kurds in general, and especially those who live in Turkey and northern Syria, are the most progressive and Western in that region,” Shaked continued. “They are the main force that fought against ISIS and endured thousands of deaths, under a special joint leadership of men and women.”
“The Western world should stand with them,” she concluded.
Blue and White party co-chair Yair Lapid urged that Israel penalize Turkey in response to the invasion, saying, “In light of the Turkish actions in northern Syria, I call on Justice Minister Amir Ohana to bring forth his proposed law to recognize the Armenian genocide that Bibi prevented from being raised. We will support it.”
The Jerusalem Post reported that a group of over 100 IDF officers sent a letter to Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi urging them to take action to prevent possible Turkish atrocities against the Kurds.
“As Israelis and as Jews, we must not stand idly by,” the letter said.