I started translating the address delivered at the Sheikh Jarrah demonstration Saturday Night by activist Sarah Beninga, but I was beaten to the punch by the Sheikh Jarrah website here. (And Didi Remez published his own translation here at his indispensable Coteret site)
The rousing speech, which does not have a single author, articulates a vision of the Israeli New Left. It will be very easy for old folks to dismiss them; in the Middle East, cynicism and a "been-there-done-that" mentality prevails. And yes, there are already important groups to which some of the Sheikh Jarrah activists belong, like Ta'ayush and others. But this manifesto captures something new, which, if it develops, will be an important moral and political force in Israel/Palestine --now and as long as the struggle lasts.
Even the consciousness, or the recognition that there is a new left, is important.
I hope that it is widely circulated throughout the world.
There is a New Left in Town
There is a New Left, and it is not a left that is content with peace talks; it is a left of struggle. There is a New Left that knows that there are things you have to fight against even when they are identified with the state and even when they are sanctioned by law. There's a New Left that knows that this struggle will not be decided on paper, but on the ground, on the hills, in the vineyards, in the olive groves. There's a New Left that is not afraid of settlers – even when they come down on us from the hills, masked and armed. This left does not succumb to political oppression by the police, nor does it care what Ma'ariv writes about it.
There is a New Left in town. This left does not want to be loved, does not dream of filling town squares and does not bask in the memories of 400,000 demonstrators. This left is a partnership of Palestinians who understand that the occupation will not be stopped by missiles and bombs, and of Israelis who understand that the Palestinian struggle is their own.
The New Left links arms with Palestinians in a cloud of tear-gas in Bili'in, and with them, bears the brunt of settler violence in the South Hebron Hills. This left stands by refugees and work immigrants in Tel-Aviv and fights the Wisconsin Project [privatized "welfare-to-work" program]. This New Left is us, all of us.
All those who came here tonight; all those who dared to cross the imaginary line separating West and East Jerusalem despite the threats and intimidation - we are all the New Left that is rising 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. Until the Ghawis, the Hanouns and the El-Kurds return to their homes, there will be no peace; because peace will not take root where discrimination, oppression, and plunder exist. There is a New Left in town and this left stands with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah tonight, and it will continue standing with them until justice overcomes fanaticism.
But there is also a New Right in town. A Right filled with envy and racism that seduces the masses with its jingoistic rhetoric. The New Right has no interest in the well-being and the welfare of human beings. The New Right is only interested in a narrow ethnic and tribal loyalty a la Avigdor Liberman. For the New Right only the Jewish poor deserve attention. And what makes someone Jewish is that they're not Arabic. The New Right has nothing to offer but never-ending war. The New Right has nothing to offer bur hate for the other: Arabs, refugees and leftists.
This New Right creates the fanatic settlers against whom we are demonstrating tonight. These settlers hate Jerusalem. They have no love for Israel and no love for humankind – they love only themselves. There are many amongst the settlers who can and should carry out a dialogue with. But the settlers in Sheikh Jarrah who sing songs of praise to Baruch Goldstein – must be defeated.
The New Right created the mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat. He is a technocrat who doesn't understand or care about Jerusalem. He is a mayor who uses administrative terror against the residents of East Jerusalem and neglects the residents of West Jerusalem, while mouthing empty clichés. If Jerusalem is a powder keg, then Nir Barkat is the one who is striking the match. But Barkat doesn't scare us and neither do the settlers or Liberman.
We will continue coming to Sheikh Jarrah and everywhere that justice is crushed by the forces of occupation and oppression. Take a look around you; we are not as few as we thought we were! And we will prevail!