Am Yisrael Chai
I really wanted to go to the “pro-judicial reform” rally in Jerusalem last Thursday night. My son’s yeshiva in Ramat HaGolan took the boys in buses to partake. And from what I read, heard and saw on news sites, there were hundreds of thousands gathered there peacefully. I couldn’t get to Jerusalem, but it looked like a success. What does that mean exactly? Was it a success because so many people showed up? Because it was peaceful? In my opinion, and from what we have been experiencing the last several months, I’d say so. I spoke to a friend who attended who told me that the participants were a mix of all types of Israelis, and there was a very positive vibe overall. Jews from all over Israel, dati and chiloni, gathering together peacefully to rally for a cause is showing the world the way it SHOULD be done. A Kiddush Hashem (sanctifying G-d’s name).
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the other side. The anti-judicial reform (a.k.a. anti-government) protests have been going on for months now, at least once a week, and it seems to me that the protesters don’t even know what they are protesting against anymore. They keep shouting “Democracy”, but this doesn’t make sense, as this government was elected democratically, just like all the other governments voted in. Someone decided that blocking one of the most important highways in the country night after night was a good idea? Overdoing it, but we got the point. Then there was the dressing up as handmaids from the dystopian book/series The Handmaid’s Tale and marching silently with heads bowed. I’ll admit that at first it was somewhat amusing to watch. And definitely an exaggeration. But since then things have crossed a line. And now I don’t know how anyone can actually believe in their “cause” anymore.
Prior to Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, the Prime Minister implored the nation to please “lay down their arms” (in this case, literally their “arms” and signs) for a few days to commemorate the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives fighting for our country, and the victims of terrorism. Fair enough. You’d think the protesters would agree to a cease-fire for 48 hours, and come together as a nation should on Memorial Day and Independence Day. But no, they couldn’t. I attended the annual Yom Hazikaron ceremony at the Ra’anana military cemetery. I was there to support a friend and colleague of mine, Judy Hillman, whose son Benji (May G-d avenge his blood), an elite Egoz soldier, was killed in the Second Lebanon War, a mere three weeks after his wedding (!), fighting for us. As I looked around at all the people there that day, who were quietly and respectfully standing together, united, I knew that we were all there to show support and solidarity, whether we had personally known these brave soldiers or not.
Apparently, I was mistaken. Not everyone gathered there had good intentions. The anti-government anarchists showed up and made their presence known. They clearly had an ulterior motive for attending: To disrupt the solemn ceremony by inappropriately singing Hatikva (as if that makes it ok!) while speeches were taking place, and even more inappropriately, clapping afterwards just to make noise. And these people didn’t stay outside the cemetery. They came in, literally next to the graves, and started their chanting right in front of the families of the fallen soldiers. They apparently didn’t want to hear any speeches, no matter how apolitical. They also didn’t care to hear the stories being told of these brave warriors who gave their lives for all of us gathered there that day. It was then that any small amount of empathy I may have felt for these people to express their opinions was completely lost. I was disgusted, and I still am.
The next day wasn’t much better. On the beach in Tel Aviv, as we watched the annual Israeli Air Force flyovers (matas), we were once again forced to confront the protesters. But they chose a different tactic on Yom Ha’atzmaut. As beach-goers were enjoying the more than 100 planes showing Israel’s might in the skies above, we suddenly heard an “announcement” coming from somewhere. At first we all looked toward the lifeguard tower, thinking that it was coming from the loudspeakers up there. But it wasn’t. We then looked out beyond the breakers right off the shore and saw no fewer than ten boats – an armada of sorts- with large banners draped over the starboards displaying the typical anti-government slogans we have gotten used to seeing. One of the boats was bigger than the others and was obviously the lead boat in this makeshift flotilla, and it was from this boat that the yelling was coming from.
For the next two hours- no kidding- thousands of us trying to enjoy a gorgeous Independence Day at the beach were subjected to loud chants of “De-mo-kra-tiya, de-mo-kra-tiya”, over and over and over again. They didn’t stop for even a minute, and interestingly, they didn’t seem to be moving down the coast either. It didn’t matter that fighter jets were performing in the skies above us and we were cheering; they kept on screaming. It seems that they even got their kids to participate, taking turns with the microphone and shouting into it. At a certain point the lifeguard got on his own loudspeaker and told them to be quiet and stop disturbing our holiday at the beach. This elicited an applause from us, but unfortunately, it didn’t help. The chanting continued until the crowds had dispersed after the air show, at about 1 pm. I wonder if they feel good about themselves now, knowing that they nearly succeeded in ruining Yom Ha’atzmaut for thousands of fellow citizens.
My guess is that they do actually feel good about themselves, and believe that they are doing the right thing for “democracy”. But we on the other side have had enough already, and the Jerusalem rally last week proved that. The left has gone too far. We can only hope and pray that this madness will end sooner rather than later, and that we can move forward, united as one nation.