Last night was the 24th Shabbat of demonstrations against the Judicial overhaul. Although there is no end in sight, we all understand the importance of being part of the struggle. Yesterday I joined the rally of the civic groups from Dizengoff Plaza toward Kaplan, there were many flags and noisy whistles and some people held torches
Since the beginning of January over a quarter million Israelis have been dedicating every Saturday night to the demonstrations. We have come to realize that struggles take time. Unlike military operations which usually end after several days, civil uprising or struggles could take years (the 2nd Intifada, for example, lasted for over 4 years, and the outcomes were bleak).
Being in the midst of the struggle it’s hard to imagine the day after, still we must never despair. Being in Kaplan every Saturday fills me with hope, listening to the speakers on stage (yesterday Tzipi Livni, and Or-Ly Barlev spoke, and last week it was Shikma Bressler) gives me hope. But on a regular basis I get my daily dose of hope from Karine Nahon, who founded the Nahon’s WhatsApp groups for updates on the struggle.
Dr Karine Nahon, a professor of Information Technology, and Society, at Reichman University, understood from the beginning the value of updating and motivating the activists. Thus she created special WhatsApp groups which report news from the demonstrations and recruit people for special assignments, like protesting at lectures, conferences, in front of politicians homes etc. Thanks to these groups we keep a close touch, and know at any given moment what is going on. As a scholar and an activist Nahon understands the dangers of burnout due to fatigue and less of progress. So she gently, but constantly, provides the participants with reasons to keep on going. As a member of a Nahon’s group (there are 13 groups and over thirteen thousands people), I trust the group as a source of information, and I have come to rely on Nahon’s encouragement when I am feel frustrated. Her personal messages are less manifestos and more micro motivational speeches. For example, last month the headquarter of the struggle announced a special day of disruptions. Nahon decided to provide the activists with an explanation about this drastic act. On the morning of May 4th she wrote: “Good morning everyone. Why do we disrupt the order? In democracies disruption is an act of public participation which is used by social movements to express protest….”
“How do we disrupt? Disruption of daily life is done in different levels from installations, demonstrations, rallies, tents etc.”
This short text immediately placed the day of disruption in the right context, as it is a democratic tool to express disagreement with the actions of the government. Her messages to the groups are always short, to the point and optimistic. It is an inspired strategy to motivate weary activists, and to give them a sense of purpose and even pride.
Nahon has emerged in this struggle as a true leader, who so far chose to do most of her work behind the scenes. Hopefully once we overcome the attempt to make Israel a dictatorship worthy people like Karine Nahon will step up to be part of the new order.