In the previous week, after the last protest to save democracy in Israel (21), I heard in the media voices that said that perhaps it was ok to relax a little, maybe even to take a personal break from the protests, in order to preserve energy. The feeling was that finally we were on the right track. People claimed that, if needed, within minutes we can use the numerous groups on WhatsApp to regroup and show up.
Unfortunately it was wishful thinking: the last few days prove that there is no reason to relax, quite the contrary. The government has increased the pressure on the police to respond to civilians with force, even with violence. And on Friday night NY time, in that city, a senior elected official Simcha Rotman was caught on video ripping with force a megaphone of a protester’s neck, right after she said: “at the end we are all Jews”. Protest is one of the few actions that citizens could take in order to fight injustice, and acting violently toward demonstrators is a very dangerous sign for the future of democracy in our country.
Fortunately the people who said that we can be called into action and show up within minutes were right. Last night (June 3rd) over 300000 people demonstrated in 150 locations around the country, half of them were in Kaplan, which is the center of the struggle.
Yet last night I decided to join the Anti Occupation rally in Dizengoff Plaza, which marked 56 years of occupation (as a result of the 1967 war). A Palestinian leader, from Combatants For Peace, who spoke in the rally reminded the audience: “I was born into occupation and so was my son”. Everyone who took part in the rally, and many others who were protesting somewhere else, knows that there is no democracy with occupation. The Palestinians who live under occupation experience it every minute of the day, but even we, the Israelis who try not to think about it because it is such a painful subject, cannot ignore the price it has taken on our society. Another speaker in the rally, a young Israeli woman from “Breaking The Silence , bravely told the audience in great details how growing up in a religious settlement, occupation was transparent to her. Moreover, she admitted that she was blind to the plight of the Palestinians even though she did her military service in Hebron. It is hard to believe that such a thing is possible, but it happens to all of us: when you are trained, as an Israeli, not to see something you just don’t see it. It takes a true crisis, or a miracle for your eyes to be opened.
We are in a midst of an existential crisis to the state of Israel, which happened on January 4th, with the attempt to make our country a dictatorship. Our eyes were finally opened, and now is the time to act and make major changes.