Last night (Saturday) was the 20th Shabbat of demonstrations against the judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv. Last week was officially canceled because of security reasons. But still thousands of people arrived to exercise their civic responsibility of protesting against the attempt to make Israel a dictatorship.
Prior to this struggle I participated in very few demonstrations. We lived in the US for many years and, in that time life in our midwestern university town was very quiet. But in Israel of today no one has a privilege of remaining indifferent or uninvolved as these are historic times.
We had a strong suspicion that life would change under the new right wing/ ultra orthodox regime, but the announcement of the plan for “Judicial reform” on January 4th 2023 took many of us by surprise. It took time to understand the meaning and the implication of that announcement. Some with the right background understood immediately, other needed help in deciphering the, seemingly innocuous ,dry legal language. But then we took to the streets, and the first demonstration in Habima was on January 8th 2023. What happened last winter in Israel is best understood if we compare the plan revealed on January 4th to the Insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6th 2021. Both were unprecedented attempts to change democracy, and perhaps some of the inspiration for the Levin/Rottman plan was Donald Trump’s refusal to act according to the law.
For me personally the protests in Israel restored my belief in the future of Israel. After many years of frustration with, and even a slight alienation from my country, Kaplan made me an involved citizen who is not ashamed to be an Israeli. Standing with likeminded people in Tel Aviv I finally feel a sense of belonging and I am hopeful that eventually we will be able to make a change for the better.
In the demonstration last night the former Director of Budgets in israel’s Ministry of Finance Shaul Meridor, the son of former Likkoud leader Dan Meridor and grandson of Eliyahu Meridor a Member of Knesset in the Herut party, gave a fiery and hopeful speech about the future of the state. This young man who was forced to resign his position because of the climate of looting, which characterizes the new regime, promised that we shall over come, and will be able to amend the wrongs. It was the first time that someone I trust used a different language from the normal prophecies of doom and gloom that we read and hear, and the audience in Kaplan needed to hear it, and it was clear to me that here is one of our future leaders. We need wise, practical and even tempered leaders like Shaul Meridor.