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"The People of Israel Will Not Surrender!"

“The people of Israel will not surrender!” was the message broadcast across the world from central Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Organizers report over 150,000 people attended.
First Publish: 1/12/2004, 3:11 PM / Last Update: 1/11/2004, 9:09 PM

"The people of Israel will not surrender!" was the message broadcast across the world from central Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. "The Settlers Are Israel’s Security Fence!" read one of the large banners crowding the square. "Evicting Jews Won't Bring Peace" said another, in English, captured by several foreign media television cameras.

Organizers report that 150,000 people attended the rally - reaching the number hoped for by the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha). Police estimated that well over 120,000 were in attendance.

Among the Likud cabinet ministers and Knesset Members on the dias were Ruby Rivlin, Gila Gamliel, Uzi Landau, Micky Ratzon, Ehud Yatom, Yuli Edelshtein. Ministers Ehud Olmert, Limor Livnat, Binyamin Netanyahu and Danny Naveh were not in attendance. The prime minister himself, however, was present - at least in spirit: The rally featured video clips of Ariel Sharon speaking before pro-Land of Israel demonstrations during the administration of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and making declarations against appeasement of terrorism and ceding land.

MK Gila Gamliel (Likud) opened the evening’s speeches, saying: "This square is filled not with residents of Yesha, but with Jews from the north, south, center and the coastal plain - all of Israel - to support and strengthen the residents and the children of Yesha."

Minister of Housing Effie Eitam (NRP) issued an emotion-filled plea to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Arik," said Eitam from the podium, "we, your friends, are here to strengthen you. We know that the last watch before dawn is always the toughest, but the morning is almost here. We are witnessing the success of our war against the enemy and you wish to hand him victory? Is this the time to surrender and flea the battlefield, in the middle of combat?

"We were with you in battle, Arik. Zambish [Zeev Chever, friend of PM Sharon and chairman of Amana, which handles the logistics of the settlement enterprise – ed.], Ketzaleh [Yaakov Katz, executive director of Arutz-7, who also served with Sharon] and many others. We are with you in this battle for our roads, cities and homes. But we will not cooperate in the destruction of Jewish communities – we will not cooperate in expelling a single Jew from his home!"

Minister of Tourism Benny Elon (National Union) declared, "This is a people that does not want to be cut off from its traditions, its Torah, its history or its land," with the crowd cheering him on.

Fellow cabinet member Uzi Landau suggested that if the prime minister insisted on unilateral measures, Arabs, not Jews, should be moved. "If Jewish communities can be relocated, Arab communities can also be relocated," he said.

Minister Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) was answered with boos when he defended trying to influence government policy from within.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, dean of Ateret Kohanim yeshiva in Jerusalem and Chief Rabbi of Beit El, put things in a Torah perspective: "The path to the Land of Israel is difficult, and on this it is said, ‘the stubborn succeeds.’ Every Jewish community, the entire settlement of the Land of Israel - that was stubbornness for the sake of truth." The rabbi continued, "Throughout our history, we were stubborn and we won - the few against the many. Today, too, we are stubborn for the sake of our land - the few against the many. ...We built this entire country," Rabbi Aviner declared, "This city, Tel Aviv, was once just sand, and is now a holy city. This land is warmly welcoming us."

One rally participant told Arutz-7’s Eli Stutz that although she lives in Petach Tikva, within Israel’s pre-1967 borders, she could not say home while "the Prime Minister tries to give away parts of the country – my friends live there, and I care about this country. I moved here from England to strengthen Israel and not to see it surrender."

Arutz-7's Yishai Fleisher said, "This rally, in stark contrast with the so-called peace rallies of late - the cutting of the security fence and exchange of blows with IDF soldiers in recent weeks - conveys an overwhelming message of unity from thousands of people who truly yearn for a real honest peace. A real atmosphere of love, reminiscent of the sixties in America, pervades this square, and broadcasts hope and a positive message that the Jewish people are not willing to give up."