Radicalism seems to be the prevailing operative construct. In religious and political contexts, locally and internationally, humans seem to have chosen radicalism as a way of dealing with both the inevitable and preventable frustrations of existence.
Radicalism by itself is not malign. Radical reorientation of our attitude toward our natural environment, and radical reaction to the judicial “reform” madness, are indeed essential. It is mindless radicalism, in action or reaction, that is counterproductive and ultimately harmful.
It is in order to advance constructive radicalism, in the service of the protests primary objective, that you are asked to ponder the following.
Is it possible that the long consecutive streak to which the leaders and participants of our months’-long massive protests proudly point as a mark of their success, is actually an indication of their failure?!
Witnessing Ben Gvir’s odious grin, hearing Smotrich’s recurrent self-righteous blather, and then to observe Netanyahu’s smug smirk, as he corruptly shakes the hand of one more venal Haredi hypocrite in public celebration of yet another brazen “cash for you; support for me” arrangement – in fact, to see Netanyahu pictured anywhere but behind prison bars – convinces one that the demonstration WERE, at one time, a success. No longer so! And should give thoughtful pause to any premature celebrations about the effectiveness of the protests. Perhaps, also cause for (radical) tactical reconsideration? Much more meaningful work remains to be done, and no one seems to be doing it.
The Ayalon blocked with dozens of baby carriages made to resemble hearses – a perfect photo-op demonstration about inequality – the tirelessly dedicated Moran Zer Katzenstein vowing not to stop after celebrating her supermarket shelf display victory (and then warning us that the next days are crucial), as well as the weekly self-congratulatory pronouncements about bigger and more meaningful protests “that will not stop”, might convince a dispassionate outsider that half a year’s worth of protest marches, has not accomplished much – certainly not much after the first few weeks of proving the extent and the depth of discontent and ire.
More proof of that was offered recently in this space by yet another astute diagnostician with impressive political background and, sadly, a constructively hollow “Opinion“ piece on these pages.
Correctly assessing the inept response to the imminent threat to democracy in Israel by opposition political “leaders” – “[they] choose to perpetuate the divisions within the opposition….. they lack a strategy and a concrete political action plan. Instead, their efforts are dedicated mainly to exploiting the mass protest for their own short-term personal political gains” – is NOT enough.
YES, “… freeing ourselves from outdated paradigms and gathering the courage required for the next necessary step” is necessary! AND “…. dramatic change – change that can be realized only through a united and strong political faction” is absolutely required.
It will, however, not come from existing political “leaders” and established parties. And it will not “happen” as a consequence of more, bigger, higher intensity protests. The united political front that is called for must emanate from the protests, from prominent figures who are not lifelong professional politicians.
Recently, the central protest were addressed by Prof. Yuval Noah Harari, Prof. Hagai Levin, Sharon Arda and Michal Tzur (from the tech workers protest), and student protest leaders Bar Pakula, Sara Yitzhaki, Nadav Salzberger, Lihi Caspi and Or Filk. Impressive, but wasteful, as Harari, of all people ought to recognise. After more than six months of doing the same thing, over and over again, intelligent people should not expect different results. It is folly to not realise that. Harari, Levin, Arda, et al must do more than speechify. They, and Matti Friedman, and Moran Zer Katzenstein, must abandon anachronistic “demonstrations”, put aside their egos and pet objectives (however worthy they are), in the service of one, and only one cause: A new, truly united, Israel Justice Party that will run on a narrow but righteous platform, justice and reason in every context, for the benefit of all Israelis equally. Instead of railing once again about the injustice of it all, create a political movement and enlist every protester to the cause and to its promotion, with dedication equal to the protesting. Everything else, pertaining to all challenges faced by Israel and indeed by the globe, must be subsumed under (governed by) justice and logic, and nothing more. Every other consideration (petty, parochial, and serving narrow “special interests” – whether religious, dogmatic, irredentist, gender-centric, or financial) pales by comparison, and is rendered irrelevant by the crises – political, natural, and moral – facing Israel today. All one must do to recognise the sanity and validity of this argument is review the record of the usurpers indifference, and hostile legislative record of the last week!
Unless the protest leaders and those who fancy themselves as thought leaders acknowledge this fact by using their influence and the momentum that protests engendered in the service of drastic political change, it will have been (in Shakespeare’s immortal words) “full of sound and fury, signifying [and amounting to] nothing”.