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Israel: Rally in Tel Aviv Marks 22 Years of Persecution

Aug. 24, 2021 |   By Falun Dafa practitioners in Israel

(Minghui.org) A rally was held in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2021, to raise awareness of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s 22-year persecution of Falun Dafa, also called Falun Gong, a peaceful spiritual practice that has been persecuted in China since 1999.

Such rallies have been held in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv for each of the past 20 years, and a similar sight appears in front of Chinese embassies and consulates around the world. In Tel Aviv, Dafa practitioners held up banners calling for a stop to the brutal persecution and the Chinese regime’s forced organ harvesting of Falun Dafa practitioners in China. Many people gave speeches in support of the efforts to end the persecution.

Falun Dafa practitioners rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv, marking 22 years of persecution, on July 20, 2021.

A reenactment of forced organ harvesting

Practitioners presented a short reenactment of the horrors of the persecution, including the scene of a doctor and a policeman harvesting organs from a Chinese practitioner as she shouted “Falun Dafa hao!” (Falun Dafa is good!) The reenactment lasted a few minutes and garnered reactions from spectators and even practitioners.

This year’s protest focused on two main themes. One was that anyone who keeps silent in the face of this persecution is in fact a collaborator; people of Jewish faith and ethnicity, who experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, must not remain silent. The second message was that the persecution of Falun Dafa is pure evil, and that the CCP, which is responsible for this persecution, must be seen for what it is–an evil organization.

The rally was broadcast live on Facebook. Falun Dafa practitioners uploaded videos of the speeches to YouTube and then promoted them so that more and more people can learn about what is happening in China.

Professor: Ignoring the Persecution Same as Being an Accomplice

Prof. Yael Shemesh, Bar Ilan University: “Ignoring the persecution is no different from being an accomplice to a crime.”

Prof. Yael Shemesh, a senior lecturer at the Department of Bible Studies at Bar Ilan University, spoke at the rally. She said Falun Dafa’s principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance are principles that every human being can identify with. She said it was revealing that the CCP persecutes these values. She emphasized that freedom of faith and freedom of thought are things that cannot be taken from people.

Prof. Shemesh also talked about how the world kept silent while Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. She said it is easy to close our eyes and look away, even in the face of of the CCP’s forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience, but at some point keeping silent means that we have betrayed the victims and our own values. Ignoring the persecution is no different from being an accomplice to a crime, she said.

Moral Clarity Needed to Tell Right from Wrong

Elad Pressman, a publicist, blogger and social media activist: “As long as people lack the moral clarity to tell between right and wrong, and as long as they do not realize this is truly evil, the people of the world will remain silent.”

Elad Pressman, a publicist, blogger and social media activist, said the persecution of Falun Dafa has nothing to do with cultural clashes and that it is pure evil. He spoke of the silence of elites in academia and business, and said that large corporations make big profits in China and need China to keep their market value high. Because of that dependency, they cannot criticize the Chinese regime and therefore keep silent, he said.

Mr. Pressman added that with postmodern notions in thought and language, all values are rendered equal, and the hierarchy of values that distinguish between good and bad is abolished. As there is only “diversity,” it becomes difficult to diagnose and treat the problem he said.

Furthermore, Mr. Pressman noted how the silence relates to the waning of faith. People have lost the ability to tell between right and wrong, he said, and because of that, they find it hard to tell whether the persecution and forced organ harvesting are evil. This creates ambiguity and leads to silence.

Only when we agree as a society that forced organ harvesting and the persecution of Falun Dafa are evil, will we be able to address the issue, according to Mr. Pressman. As long as people think this is only part of some other culture, a legitimate element of cultural diversity; as long as people lack the moral clarity to tell between right and wrong, and as long as they do not realize this is truly evil, the people of the world will remain silent, he concluded.

Israelis Should “Open Their Eyes” to the CCP’s Threat

Ms. Maayan Eisenstadt, Chair of the “Magen for Individual Freedom” Association, said that since 1999, Falun Dafa practitioners have been brainwashed, tortured, raped and even killed for their organs. She said this shows the cruelty of the totalitarian Chinese regime, which denies people freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, individual freedoms, and all other types of freedom.

She noted that China’s social credit system, which began in 2018, allows the regime to exert its control on people. Chinese women are forced to undergo abortions and are forcibly sterilized. The coronavirus outbreak proved that the regime’s policy isn’t confined to China alone, but rather it has also been implemented overseas, including in Israel.

Ms. Eisenstadt said that Israeli citizens should open their eyes and realize what the Chinese regime is doing to its own citizens. If it is capable of doing such things to its own citizens, one can only imagine what it might do to pro-democracy people overseas, she warned. She also emphasized that the values of Falun Dafa are values that all people should uphold and live by.

Each Person Must Make a Choice

Mr. Vadim Berestetsky, chair of the Israeli Falun Dafa Association, said that the Chinese regime is based on lies and violence, and cannot tolerate the truth. More and more Chinese realize that not only Falun Dafa practitioners are victims of the regime, but that they, the Chinese people, including police officers of all ranks and other perpetrators who carry out this persecution, are also victims, he said. Even the people of Israel, who have been suffering for a year and a half under the current pandemic because of the CCP’s lies, are victims of the regime, he said.

Mr. Berestetsky noted that just as the world mostly kept silent as the Jews were slaughtered during World War II, many choose to remain silent today. He said every person must make his or her own choice, and that by making this choice, each person determines his or her own future.

Practitioners Highlight the CCP’s Cruelty

Mr. Gilad, an Israeli Falun Dafa practitioner, recalled the good feelings he experienced when he started practicing Falun Dafa 20 years ago. He recounted his meeting with Jennifer Zeng, who was taken to a forced labor camp in China, where she endured torture, sexual abuse and brainwashing, all aimed at making her renounce her faith. At one point she broke down and agreed to sign a document to renounce her faith in Falun Dafa, so that they would let her go.

But then her torturers also told her to sign a letter expressing her gratitude to the CCP for saving her, and the letter slandered Falun Dafa. She was also required to torture her friends and pressure them to give up their faith. “That is how the Communist Party operates,” Gilad said. “It won’t just harm you, it will turn you into an accomplice. The CCP doesn’t just target people, it also turns them against each other and turns them into accomplices.”

Ms. Nurit, also an Israeli Falun Dafa practitioner, said the cruel persecution was the result of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin’s vision, as well as the Party’s vision of power, greed, domination, cunning and struggle against all that is good. She said Jiang learned from the “best” before him–Stalin, Hitler and Mao.

Jiang launched the persecution by using the state’s propaganda machinery to flood Chinese media with lies about Falun Dafa. He later went on to incarcerate, torture, and brainwash practitioners by mobilizing the entire state apparatus. But that was not enough for Jiang, Nurit said, as he found a satanic way to make profit out of practitioners’ bodies and gave an order to turn them into a live organ bank, making vital organs readily available for transplants.

Nurit explained, “My mother’s family was almost entirely annihilated in the death camps in Europe. My father’s family survived the Holocaust by a miracle. How can I, a descendant of a family that’s survived the Holocaust, keep silent?”

She called on everyone present at the rally, “You can’t afford to keep silent. For humanity’s sake, for all of us, help us stop the Chinese communist regime.”

Rabbi: Jews Have a Duty to Speak Out

Former Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior is one of the public figures in Israel who has showed concern and sympathized with Falun Dafa in China, both during his tenure at the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), as well as a private citizen.

He sent a written statement: “As members of the Jewish people, we wonder time and again, how the world could have kept silent during the Holocaust, and not realize that keeping silent is a form of cooperation with the perpetrators of the most terrible crimes against humanity ever committed. Today, as Jews, we are a free nation in our own country, and therefore we do not only have rights, but also obligations. When similar crimes against humanity are taking place elsewhere in the world today, it is our duty as a state, a nation, a society, and also as individuals, to raise our voices and protest with all our might, otherwise we are collaborating with such crimes.”

Why the CCP Opposes Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance

Dorit, a Falun Dafa practitioner, explained the deeper implications of the CCP’s persecution of the values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance and how it leads to moral decay and a more vicious society.

“He who opposes the principle of Truthfulness, lies and deceives all his life, and cannot be trusted. For example, the CCP lies to the Chinese people and to the whole world when it slanders and defames Falun Dafa. It has lied and covered up the first cases of COVID-19 in China and thus caused it to spread all over the world,” she said.

“Those who oppose Compassion and Forbearance lead to the creation of a cruel society, in which living is a nightmare. Without the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, we will have hell on earth.”

Locals Support Practitioners’ Efforts to Counter the Persecution

Motorists passing by the rally stopped to listen to some of the speeches and read the signs. Drivers honked in a show of support.

Among the passersby were people who were hearing about Falun Dafa and the persecution in China for the first time. Others had heard about it before and came out to show their support and help raise awareness.

Alon, a Hebrew teacher, learned about the persecution and Falun Dafa while living in New York. He has joined the silent protest in front of the Chinese embassy many times before.

Mirel, who came from Be’er Ya’akov with her friends, said the persecution is “wrong and immoral.”

Ms. Nehora, from the city of Ariel, said, “It is sad and shocking even though it is happening far away.”

Ola is well aware of what is happening in China. “I am happy to see that people in Israel are aware of the issue,” she said, “and that they are making their stand. It is important to raise awareness, because China is far away and not everyone knows. I am happy to see the rally held in a central spot in Tel Aviv, so more people can learn the truth.”

Mauda said, “What you are doing here is extraordinary. It is something I have never seen in any other country in the world–the mere fact that you care about people who are persecuted and tortured in China. What kind of life would it be without freedom? Only a dictatorship can take the freedom of human beings. There is no life without freedom. Well done to you for caring about other people!”

Israel Zirlin said, “Human rights are important, and there should be a brotherhood among people. I believe in your way. It is the very basis of human existence. During the last few centuries, evil has grown in popularity. If evil prevails, the world will cease to exist. The entire world is at a turning point now. I believe in the good side of people. The mere fact that such a practice as Falun Dafa is taught all over the world for free, already makes it a sublime practice worth getting to know.

“Organ harvesting is unequivocally a horrible, terrifying thing. We must cry out about it, because life and the world belong to every living being under heaven.”