Tomorrow will be the 21st Shabbat of demonstrations in Tel Aviv which started as a protest to Yariv Levin’s announcement on January 4th 2023, that as a justice Minister he is planning a wide- ranging judicial reform.
The following Shabbat thousands of protesters gathered in Habima and as the crowd grew larger, it has spread to Kaplan street all the way down to the intersection with Menachem Begin (more than 2 kilometers). If we count the 21st week by days, it means that we have been protesting for 3 weeks straight. And that without taking into account demonstrations which took place in the middle of the week, marches, and emergency protests, such as the one which happened spontaneously the night when Netanyahu fired Yoav Galant, his Security Minister. That night furious citizens got out of bed and rushed to the streets. It was a startling and unforgettable night.
I cannot recall a similar time in Israel when a government so cruelly and cynically trampled on its citizens, dismantled the values specifically written in the Declaration of Independence by the founders of the state, and looted the money saved for the future of our country.
In the week prior to Shavuot people started sharing on social media a special kind of card, at first glance it seemed just like another holiday greeting, but upon a second look it had a painful message. It is a sign featuring the flag of Israel, with a determined fist in front of it and inside the fist a sheaf of wheat. The title in Hebrew is “As Many Weeks As It Takes”. This is a Hebrew pun on the name of the holiday “Shavuot” (שבועות) which means weeks. The treason for this name has to do with counting the days in the seven weeks period (The Omer) from Passover until the harvest in Shavuot .
The struggle in Israel to preserve democracy, and to resist the attempt to make us a dictatorship is long and hard. It has been going on for weeks and unlike the 7 weeks of counting the Omer which end with the harvest in Shavuot, there is no happy end in sight. But as the signs says we will be there as long as it takes because we have no choice, and quoting another popular sign in Kaplan “We Don’t Have Any Other Country.