Protest in Tel Aviv
Photo: Ben Kelmer
Good morning, Mr. Prime Minister, assuming you even slept tonight; because if last night you saw what you referred to earlier as a “populist wave” you had good reasons not to fall asleep.
We’ve seen some protests in our lifetime, Mr. Prime Minister: The large protest after the Yom Kippur War that urged the government to quit, the mass rally after Sabra and Shatila, and the peace rally where Rabin was murdered. I know this as I attended all of them. Yet never before, Mr. Prime Minister, never before have I seen such protest on the streets of Tel Aviv.
I think it was the greatest no-confidence protest in the history of the state; because the question, Mr. Prime Minister, is no longer how many people hit the streets last night, but rather, how many did not. If what took place in Tel Aviv yesterday is any indication, not too many people stayed home.
More than 250,000 people gather in Tel Aviv Saturday night for one of largest protests in Israel's history; some 30,000 rally in Jerusalem, tens of thousands demonstrate elsewhere. Student leader: We demand change
You should have been there, Mr. Prime Minister, in order to understand it. Believe me, watching it on television isn’t enough. The sense of energy cannot be sensed through the screen; this excitement and sense of solidarity. The same is true for the civilized conduct of the protestors, their tolerance and lack of violence. In order to feel it, one must march with this giant human wave and scream along with it “the people, demand, social justice,” in one voice, with all your heart and soul.
Mr. Prime Minister, you may not fully understand what social justice means. Maybe they don’t fully understand either. Yet what’s clear here is that your people are demanding something; something great, significant, and important. And the people demand it from you.
Had you been there yesterday, Mr. Prime Minister, you too would have been touched upon seeing the hundreds of thousands of people. Yes, sir, hundreds of thousands of people who marched there. They were no anarchists, no leftists, and carried no sushi and nargile; it was the people of Israel, the common people. You would have seen a whole nation that used to be indifferent, dispirited and hopeless – but came back to life.
Pride and jealousy
Had you been there in the terrible heat and humidity, shoulder to shoulder with your sweaty and spirited citizens, you would have seen something great and immense heading out to the street; it will be impossible to push it back to where it came from.
Had the Knesset not been on its summer break, you would surely hear your colleagues trying to downplay the scope of the rally. The contempt over the tent protest would have seeped through the walls and made its way to the street. And believe me, Mr. Prime minister, the contempt we heard there last week prompted 100,000 more people to join last night’s protest.
So who was there at the protest yesterday, Mr. Prime Minister? I saw masses of young people. Yes, the people who started it all. My children, your children, Shlomo Artzi’s children. The people who completed their military service, embarked on their long trip abroad, proceeded to study and work, rented an apartment and started their lives.
I saw the parents of young children carrying their kids on their shoulders or pushing strollers. I also saw the parents of these young people, as well as grandmothers and grandfathers who came with their grandchildren. I saw among the crowds people who can easily make ends meet. They can even help hundreds of others. I saw adults whose eyes were shining and hearts went out to the tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of youngsters who led them in an amazingly orderly fashion through the streets of Tel Aviv. They looked around in amazement, with pride, with jealousy even.
Yes, with jealousy; they would give so much to be part of this young, inspiring generation. They would pay so much to be the ones who started the revolution; to be a page in this history themselves.
They must have asked themselves last night, where were we all these years? What have we done? Why were we silent? How come we were so obedient and disciplined, lacking initiative and courage? Why didn’t we do the job for these kids? And how did we abandon them to indifferent governments, without a political horizon, without financial security, and yes, without social justice.
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