Shayna Abramson

Why Aren’t There Massive Protests against Bibi?

Why aren’t there massive protests against Bibi?

It’s possible that Bibi’s innocent. But as the number and severity of the corruption allegations against him increase, it becomes ever more puzzling that there isn’t a massive political movement to demand his resignation.

There was a 3,000 person rally in support of Bibi on Wednesday. But there have been no similar rallies against him.*

Where are the rallies demanding that Bibi resign? Why aren’t there massive protests outside of his house every day? Why hasn’t the left set up a protest tent outside the prime minister’s house, as so many right-wing causes have done in recent years?

The standard for resignation, unlike the standard for guilt in a courtroom, is not “innocent until proven guilty”. The standard is, “Does it seem reasonably likely that you’re guilty, and does that detract from your ability to do your job? Have you lost public trust as a result of the cloud of suspicion against you?”

It’s clear that, when it comes to Bibi, the answer to these questions is “Yes”.

This would be a prime moment for the left to reach out and appeal to the vast majority of the country, which has no desire to see corrupt politicians in power. Instead, it remains passive.

Many studies about the rightward shift in the Israeli electorate in recent years point to fears stemming from the Second Intifada, or to school textbooks. They often leave out one crucial factor: The left sucks at politics.

That’s a real problem, because part of the health of any democracy is measured by the effectiveness of its opposition party, which ensures that the state does not become simply a tyranny of the majority.

But when it comes to protests at Bibi’s house, there’s another factor at play: Tel Aviv is the heart of left-wing political activity, and many left-wing activists don’t want to come to Jerusalem.**

This problem has a few facets: First of all, it’s emblematic of the fact that there is a seed of truth to the allegation that Israel’s left-wing community is a Tel Aviv bubble. This interferes with their ability to speak to the rest of the country and to actually be good at politics. Second of all, it reflects a problem for Jerusalem, which, despite being Israel’s capital, is not the center of political activity for the right or the left, both of whom prefer to hold their larger rallies in Tel Aviv.

But the biggest problem, of course, is apathy.

Many left-wing people -not the leaders, perhaps, but the lay people who fill the streets during rallies – have come to view Bibi’s prime ministership as inevitable. This quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People don’t act when they don’t believe they have the power to create change. When people don’t act, nothing changes. This only reinforces the perception that the status quo is inevitable, which further discourages people from action.

That’s the rut that the Israeli left -and large parts of the Israeli electorate from across the political spectrum -have fallen into. That’s why there are no nightly protests in front of Bibi’s house demanding his resignation.

When citizens feel disempowered and doubt their ability to make an impact, there’s a deep crack in the edifice of our democracy. When leaders don’t feel accountable to the people and are not embarrassed by credible allegations of corruption, it erodes trust in the democratic system. The results of this erosion can be seen in the political instability that is currently sweeping across much of the Western world.

That means that the lack of anti-Bibi rallies is not just about one prime minister, but also about the future of Israeli democracy -which makes it even more imperative that citizens take action.

Why aren’t there massive protests against Bibi?

Because we haven’t started them yet.

*There are weekly protests and counter-protests in front of the attorney general’s house about whether or not to formally charge Bibi. But ultimately, that decision must be made by a legal expert based on the law, not upon public pressure. It also still doesn’t explain why there have been no protests directly against Bibi.

**This is not to say that Jerusalem does not have its own fair share of left-wing activists, but there is a difference between having left-wing residents and between being the center of the left-wing community.

About the Author
Shayna Abramson, a part-Brazilian native Manhattanite, studied History and Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Jerusalem. She has also spent some time studying Torah at the Drisha Institute in Manhattan, and has a passion for soccer and poetry. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Political Science from Hebrew University, and is a rabbinic fellow at Beit Midrash Har'el.