I’m 100% Against – But We Gotta Talk about Blocking Roads

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Effective civil disobedience is not wreaking havoc until something changes. Chaos serves no one – least of all us.

Every Thursday and Saturday, and sometimes in-between, I’m out demonstrating. I financially support and am completely on-board with the strategy and tactics of what’s come to be called HaMecha’a (the resistance). With every fiber of my being, I’m against the self-gratifying and clumsy power grab orchestrated by our pathetic petty dictator wannabe and his dark or sycophantic minions.

Just so we’re clear, in Monty Python terms: I really hate the Romans.

That Said, Let’s Talk About Civil Disobedience

Specifically, let’s talk about blocking highways.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

I agree with MLK. And I think we may be in this for the long haul – making effective civil disobedience a soon-to-be necessary reality. But civil disobedience is not wreaking havoc until something changes. It’s not “breaking eggs to make an omelet,” as an acquaintance said while climbing over a highway guardrail. Blocking highways is not effective civil disobedience because:

  1. It hurts supporters and detractors alike – At a recent protest, a major road was blocked (not by me). A man ran up from back in the line of cars, clearly distressed. “Look,” he yelled “I support you 100%. But my wife is in the hospital and I need to get there.” Does preventing a fellow citizen – from whichever side of the political fence – from attending a medical emergency really further the cause?
  2. There’s no connection to the issue at hand – Look back at historically effective civil disobedience campaigns. They relate directly to the issue that sparked the campaign. Ghandi’s Salt March, Rosa Parks on the Montgomery bus, you name it – these actions took on a specific injustice. What exactly does blocking the Ayalon have to do with Bibi’s putsch?
  3. It’s counterproductive – Blocking highways does not paint us as powerful. Rather, it taints us with an unwarranted label of lawlessness. And the fence-sitters we’re trying to bring on board don’t like a mob. What’s more, it encourages counter demonstrations that are similarly not focused on the issues – sucking us all even farther down the spiral we’re already in.

OK, So What Instead?

Blocking roads, nope. Effective civil disobedience on a mass scale, totally yup. Need some examples?

  • There’s no reason non-Jews in hospital should be forced to observe Passover dietary restrictions. To protest this pointless legislation, there are activists planning to violate it by delivering pizzas to hospitalized non-Jews who want them.
  • This government is harming the economy according to the head of the Bank of Israel, and endangering the lives of its citizens, according to the Minister of Defense. Why should it function unimpeded? Leaving aside critical services like the defense establishment, fire stations, hospitals, etc. – redirect the Tel Aviv demonstrators from the Ayalon to block access to the government building of their choice during business hours.

I call on the leaders of the protests to speak out against blocking highways. This is not a moral argument – just a pragmatic one. Chaos serves no one – least of all us. You have some 500,000 Israelis listening to you closely, and the attention of arguably a million more. Redirect their energy into productive and effective acts of civil disobedience, not blocking roads to the detriment of everyone.

About the Author
Steven Greenberg is an award-winning novelist (see , a professional writer (see, and a full-time cook, cleaner, chauffeur and single dad for three young adults (see his dishpan hands). Born in Texas, Steven grew up in Indiana and emigrated to Israel just months before the first Gulf War in 1990. He's a former combat medic in the Israel Defense Forces, who never learned to properly salute despite his rank of Sergeant. And he's a career marketer, who's run a home-grown marketing boutique since 2002.
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