This is not a political post. Y’all could put away your pitchforks, I am not taking sides.
Here’s the story; we had the sons of friends of ours from Boca Raton stay in Rehovot for shabbat, and I thought we could bring them back to their Yeshiva in Jerusalem and then my wife and I could go have a nice night out.
My wife, as it turns out, had plans that I thought were tonight. Oops. Yet I wanted to go to Jerusalem, and asked some friends who might be around but everyone was busy. While leaving shul, I asked one of our friends if he wanted to go to Jerusalem after shabbat.
He said, yes, his wife was also out with my wife so we should go. Oh, and he said our other friend was going up to a rally at the Prime Minister’s residence, so if I wanted to go, we can go eat afterwards. Thus putting into place an “I’ll do anything once” situation.
Meanwhile, the yeshiva boys, well they wanted to stay in Rehovot and get ice cream. So, no one else to wait for, off we head to Jerusalem, and what is for me my first political rally since I was in yeshiva. I think, not sure. I really don’t care about politics.
Naturally I was unprepared. I did not have any signs or flags, nothing. Who knew you need props at these? I figured they gave them out. Anyway, our friend had in his car so we found parking and trekked over to the Prime Minister’s residence to start my new adventure.
10 degrees Celsius out, so we dressed accordingly. As we walk up to the residence, we are greeted by a fairly large guy giving everyone bear hugs and thanking us for coming out on a night like this. Flags waving, loud, VERY loud karaoke speaker blasting music and rhetoric, police of some sort, and about 80 people chanting, rooting for Prime Minister Netanyahu using his nickname, Bibi.
Where is the opposition I wonder? In the past, (ok, way back in last century, the 1990s) there would be groups next to each other, on every street corner, which is what I expected. Alas, no such thing is allowed anymore. Any opposition people must be across the street or down the road some place, not next to opposing side.
This rally takes place every, repeat every, Motzei shabbat from about 7pm to 10pm so if you too want to experience the fun and excitement of political rallies, but could do without all the chaos of large crowds, here’s your chance.
First thing you realize, once you “join the crowd” is the people who have come out for this are people. Not students, not teenagers, but adults, and to be honest, I felt like one of the younger people there, and I am 50. To back up a second, my oldest daughter, who I thought would like to go to it, basically said to me that it is a stupid waste of time and nothing comes from these things. I argued she would get fed afterwards and NOT dairy anything, but that was not enough to sway her to come with us. Pretty sure my son would have done it for a promised night out in Jerusalem eating great food.
I would describe the crowd as a mix between rabid sports team fans, in this case adulation over Bibi and Likud, and a hippy fest. We had everything, torches lit on fire, weed, bad cigarettes, pretty sure some flasks and a mix of people that included a few religious people, like us, but we were the minority. Israelis, French, Americans, Ethiopians, Russians, Ukrainians, British and who knows what else all blended together, on our own dime, as the speaker blared, no buses brought anyone, no one was paid to come, no one was tricked to come, everyone came of their own accord.
Naturally, attending one of these things is not without surveillance. We joked about which person videoing everything and taking pictures was from the Israel intelligence or secret service groups, just like when you fly El Al and try to guess who the Air Marshall(s) for the flight might be and where they are sitting.
Let this record show them, I am not their man. The rally was interesting, but I failed to see what the purpose or benefit of it was on the greater populace. Historically I am not sure if any rally like this in Israel has ever produced any change to any event or swayed volumes of people before the polls. No doubt some reader out there will have better knowledge than I.
As we hung around Jerusalem, Bibi was in Bet Shemesh as it turned out. The crowd grew at one point to about 150 people, cars honked as they went by, and the parodies of popular songs, parody might be the wrong word, the reworded songs, were probably longtime Likud standards but all new to this writer. Definitely my favorite was the Bibi Melech Yisroel, to the tune of David Melech Yisroel. Some other songs were also adapted children’s songs I was told by my friends, which of course not being a native Israeli were unfamiliar to me.
The rhetoric speaker was rambling on and on about the opposing parties or heads of parties or numerous things which at times were pretty funny to me, but also quite serious when they reminded us about the various terrorist incidents over the years.
After the first half hour or so it gets rather repetitive. Same songs, same rhetoric, different person shouting it, maybe some new flags or signs from the people showing up late, and nothing new. Maybe nothing is supposed to be new, I am not sure, but I guess older people don’t do change much.
Maybe I expected more pro-rhetoric instead of just baiting the opposition.
I would imagine people walking by might be more interested if they were hearing what is good about Likud and Bibi, and less of “the opposition will weaken us”. Why not tout the years of experience, the changes in economics, the better defense systems, when you are trying to remind and encourage people you go with what there is, and not do scaremongering.
In Israel though, scaremongering works well, and for good reason.
Rockets, terrorist attacks, exploding balloons, kids’ books that are bombs, stabbings, car ramming, and other things the world ignores, but our Southwestern border deals with daily. We do need to remind people that we are not dealing with sane or stable neighbors at times. And so that gets spewed out.
The police were friendly about it all, as long as everyone listened to them about where to stand or what to do, or not do, as far as the street and traffic was concerned, it was all very peaceful, albeit loud.
When it was time to go, they thanked everyone, and in typical fashion a bunch of people took a group photo and selfies with the police, because at the end of the day, we are all one big mishpacha that needs to watch out for each other because as the person at the rally held up this sign, I/we have no other land.
Afterwards we went to Crave in the shuk to enjoy the Rodeo burger, onion rings and Alexander’s Blazer beer while we discussed the, yet again, upcoming election and why anyone thinks the outcome will change this time, short of any party heads dying/quitting or some major changes in the 30+ parties working together.