We begin with a story about a married couple who appeared in family court due to the wife wanting to get a divorce. She claimed that her husband was abusive, but he insisted that he had never laid a hand on her.
Surprisingly, the woman confirmed his words but immediately described to the judge a pattern of abusive behavior in her marriage. The judge then tried to explain to the husband, with no success, that by preventing his wife from using a credit card, leaving the house at certain hours, or visiting her parents, he was actually engaging in abusive behavior.
The husband repeated: "I have never laid a hand on her, and she says the same." The judge's attempts became futile, and she gave up. She didn't even try to explain to him that there are other forms of violence.
I remember this absurd lack of understanding every time I hear the protesters against judicial overhaul boasting that their protest is nonviolent. If it weren't for the absurd activity taking place in our own backyard, one could even laugh at it.
It is precisely the people who fear for democracy, freedom of expression and civil liberties the most that are restricting others' freedom of movement, surrounding the homes of public figures and, worst of all, effectively silencing opposing opinions.
Threats like "we know where you live," and "we won't let you be for a minute" are violent in every sense. Especially when they are not allowed to speak in public or walk the streets of New York. Yes, that is violence.
The pretext that the protesters use to justify engaging in violence, behaving like bullies, and silencing other people is the fear of dictatorship. The claim that Israel is heading toward dictatorship is equivalent to Coca-Cola's slogan "Taste the Feeling."
Both are dominant, well-funded campaigns, and have managed to catch the attention of a part of the public. Well, let's assume that the government's legislative courses are destructive and we saved Israel’s democracy. What kind of democracy will it be then?
A democracy where freedom of speech is forbidden at conferences and universities? A democracy where leaving the house is only allowed for those whom the protesters agree with? An Iranian-style democracy where only people with the correct opinions can be elected and make decisions?
It can be cautiously assumed that the fact that members of the opposition failed to agree on anything in dialogue at the President's Residence was largely due to their fear that this brutal behavior would be directed toward them as well if their agreements wouldn’t be received well in the eyes of protest organizations and organizers.
Politicians who considered a compromise knew that the moment they agreed to something, they would immediately be branded as collaborators of the dictatorship, and then it would be permissible to treat them violently in the name of zealotry to defend democracy.
The most characteristic image of this protest is that of protesters beating on drums with their ears covered, metaphorically saying: "I will deafen you until you give in, and I have no interest in hearing you at all."
This is the complete opposite of who we are and what we stand for as a people. It’s the complete opposite of an honorable and respectable discourse that should take place among people and in parliament, which derives from the democratic elections we have here.
The protesters, in their shortsightedness, fail to understand that when they cross boundaries, they dictate the conduct of future protests. Because that's how it works with zealots: they’re convinced that their goal is inherently sacred and justifies the illegitimate means they employ.
However, they will soon find out that others can also break the rules and are willing to do so for purposes other than their own.
Protest leaders insist that this isn’t a battle between the political left and right. This is true. The battle is about the shape of Israel’s society in the coming years. Will we have a society of dialogue and conversation, where democratic decisions stand above all, or will the protest prevail, turning us into a society where might makes right for everyone?
First published: 00:46, 07.10.23