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And What’s Next? The Day After the Protest

Yesterday I attended a panel in the Law School of Tel Aviv University with the intriguing title: “And What’s Next. How Do We Resolve The Crisis of the Judicial Overhaul?”   The choice of the speakers was interesting as well. Professor Alan Dershovitz  gave a short speech on Zoom from his home in the US. The people in the hall were: Shikma Schwartzman-Bressler, a leader and the symbol of the protest, Daniel Frieidman a former Justice Minister,  Maisam Jaljuli an activist and a co-CEO of Tsofen Organization, Avraham Yustman an activist and a lawyer in the Haredi world. The initiator of the panel and the moderator was Issachar (Issy) Rosen Zvi, a professor at Tel Aviv University Law School.

In a nutshell it was an exciting event, lively and emotional, and and I was sorry when it ended.  The speakers presented their world view, and the moderator was experienced and stern, and didn’t let anyone monopolize the panel. 

About Dershovitz, perhaps because he spoke on Zoom he had the advantage of not seeing that the audience felt betrayed by his words. Although in January Dorshovitz spoke against the Judicial Reform,  yesterday he chose to blame the protesters especially, the pilots on reserve duty and the high-tech activists, of exploiting  their position in Israeli society to stop the judicial overhaul. To me it sounded like Dershovitz joined the coalition and recited  the party line after being prepared by proponents of the plan. 

Once Dershovitz finished his disappointing talk,  the pane  started. Shikma said that in order to move forward the racism and fascism propagated by the current government, led by Netanyahu should be publicly condemned. For the last 15 years this prime minister has incited and divided the country, people have stopped speaking their minds. But now that our eyes were open, we are not afraid to say that we want to live in a “normal democracy”  where human and minority rights are kept and respected.

Daniel Friedman reminded the audience that in many places around the world Democracies are challenged. In Israel for some segments of the population values such as the Greater land of Israel takes precedence over democracy and it explains what happens in  the occupied territories. And as for what’s next,  Friedman believes that, with some corrections to the judicial system, we can find a way to live here together and he sees the Ultra Orthodox segment and the Israeli Palestinians as having a responsibility to be part of the civil society. 

Maisam Jaljuli reminded the audience that it is hard to speak about democracy and occupation, and even the Israeli Palestinians do not enjoy the same rights as the Jewish citizens. Looking at the protest, she and others,  divide the participants into two: They are those who want to save  the country, and others who wish to repair it. As for what’s next Maisam believes that the Israeli Palestinians should be part of the repairing faction , working together in solidarity and equality. 

Avraham Yustman admitted that in his Haredi world they don’t believe in democracy, but he expects the supreme court to come up with a solution for the day after. According to Yustmasn the Haredi people prefer not to be at the center as long as they get a fair share of the economic pie. 

In the registration form we were asked to pose a question for the panel,  mine was : Taking into account the elephant in the room  (Netanyahu’s legal problems), is it at all possible to talk now about what’s next and the day after?

 Unfortunately there was no time for questions from the audience. We were left with no answers, but  with a lot to think about. 

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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