Menu JTA Search

Peace Movement to Hold off on Rallies During Begin’s U.S. Visit

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The Peace Now movement which has been urging the government to give peace priority over settlements and territory, said last night that it would refrain from further demonstrations during Premier Menachem Begin’s visit to the U.S. beginning Monday.

Begin, who traveled to Jaffa yesterday to dedicate a monument to fallen Irgun comrades, ran a gauntlet of some 4000 men, women and children spread out over 10 miles of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway in a human chain passing peace petitions hand-to-hand.

The demonstrators were peaceful and respectful as the Premier’s car passed by. They waved “Peace Now” posters, called “Shalom” and signaled “V” for victory. They had come from cities, towns and kibbutzim as far away as Shaar Haamakim in the Jezreel Valley, some in private cars, some in chartered buses and some hitchhiked.

Many of them were young couples with small children. They greeted all cars on the highway, many of which flashed their headlights and sounded horns to signal support. The occupants of some cars shouted “Secure Peace, “the slogan adopted by Begin supporters to counter the “Peace Now” call.

The Premier’s reaction to the highway demonstrators was not known. He has been icy toward the Peace Now advocates since the movement mushroomed into a grass roots protest against his government’s policies little more than a month ago. He insists that his policies represent the will of the majority of the electorate.

Begin made no mention of the demonstration in Jaffa. Instead he extolled the Irgun fighters who battled Arabs in Jaffa during Passover week 30 years ago, claiming that their action saved Tel Aviv from damage and casualties. He placed a wreath on the new monument to the 40 Irgun men killed in the battle and paid tribute to his late aide, Amitai Paglin who commanded that operation. Paglin was Begin’s advisor on counter-terrorist measures when he was killed in a highway accident two months ago.

DELIVER PETITION, 60,000 POSTCARDS

While Begin was in Jaffa, Peace Now demonstrators assembled quietly outside his office in Jerusalem to deliver their petition and 60,000 postcards urging the Premier not to “endanger peace for the price of the settlements, do not get carried away to extremes, to the road of no return.” Above the individual signatures were the words “I love Israel, I want peace now.”

The demonstrators waited for some time before two members of Begin’s staff emerged and accepted the petition and cards. Afterwards, they dispersed. Large contingents of police were on hand but no incidents occurred. When a car bearing the “Secure Peace” slogan approached, the organizers of the demonstration cautioned their followers not to be “tempted by provocations.”

NEXT STORY