Amit, one of the anti-war protestors, told IsraelNationalRadio correspondent Aaron Fox that he was participating in the protest in order to demand that Israel comply with Hizbullah and Hamas demands. “Our position is to stop the bombing and start negotiations,” he said. “Israel should release the [Arab terrorist] prisoners and the Lebanese, and hopefully the Israeli soldiers will be released. Then there can be negotiations about the UN decision about where the border should be and stop the Israeli provocation in the area.”



Asked what Israeli provocations he was referring to, in light of the complete Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, Amit said: “I know as an Israeli that Israel is doing provocations. Israel is a very strong force in the region and using that strength to disturb the people around us. There will be peace if Israel understands that the way to do peace is not with weapons but with talking. Olmert should remove all the soldiers and start negotiating.”



A man standing at the counter-protest said he ran from his home to the site of the protest the second he heard about it on the news. “The Jews standing there are far worse than the Arabs,” he said. “They scream peace and have no idea what peace is. These folks want to exterminate us. Olmert was about to give them everything they ever wanted. I wanted to tell people how I feel about these people that are betraying our country.”



“How do you feel about them?” Fox asked.



“I hate to say it,” said the man, “but I hate them.”



Another man was chanting slogans calling for Israel to “Stop the occupation!”



“What occupation?” asked Fox. “Didn’t Israel leave southern Lebanon?”



“Israel has been violating international borders every day for 18 years,” the man responded, “by violating Lebanon’s air space and holding prisoners. The only way to achieve peace is first of all to release prisoners – that is what they demanded. In the long-term we need much more than that.”



In the face of a growing crowd of counter-demonstrators, Fox asked the man if he didn’t feel like his presence at such a protest in the missile-battered city of Haifa was a provocation.



“Our presence here?” he said. “I don’t know if it’s provocative. For those who don’t like peace it is provocative.”



Fox reported intermittent physical attacks on the left-wingers and Arabs by irate Haifa residents, who pushed them, grabbed their signs and even threw rocks at them.



“People are hitting us and the police are standing by,” said an Arab resident of Haifa. “They are attacking us for no good reason and the police stand by looking – and this is a democratic state? It should protect its demonstrators.”



Asked what he thought of Hizbullah, the Arab man said, “If you bomb Beirut – they think they have the right to bomb Haifa.”



Another woman said that killing people is wrong, even if those people are members of a group like Hizbullah. “They should not kill them, but negotiate with them,” she said. Asked whether she was afraid of the constant missiles on her home city, the woman said, “Personally, I am afraid sometimes, but I can’t believe they can really hurt me. There is a siren and we can take cover. The real crisis is in Lebanon.”



One woman, a longtime Haifa resident, went from protestor to protestor, calling them traitors. “This lady over here,” she said, “treason is the word. These [Israeli Arabs] are getting money from our taxes to have six and seven children to [support those who] kill us. After 9-11, in the US, if they stood there and said, ‘We support them,’ would you allow that? This is the same thing.”



The woman, who declined to give her name, said that she and her neighbors who came to the protest believed not in a particular political ideology, but in survival. “We don’t have an agenda – we want to live,” she said, adding, “Next time when we go to vote, I hope the right-wingers won’t differentiate between someone who does and does not have a kippa [yarmulke]. We have to all be united. The Disengagement was colored religious and non-religious. That is not the issue – it is all of Israel.”



“Usually we have good relations between Arabs and Jews here,” another man added. “I like to sit and drink coffee on Friday morning with my Arab friends. They are very kind. I respect them, I love them. They are a part of Haifa. But what is happening here is not just Haifa. It is an expression of some really hard feelings. Iran and Syria will make a war against Israel and against the Western world. We have to stop it and we have to keep our survival.”
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