The demonstrations in Jerusalem against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s are an amazing thing from a civil and democratic perspective. They are also terrifying. The protesters come out of there emotionally overwhelmed.
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LISTEN: Protests, pandemics and Netanyahu’s day of reckoningCredit: Haaretz
I’ve been to four such demonstrations over the past two weeks, and I want to tell you what happens there. It’s important because most of the media outlets cover the events lazily and are sometimes biased.
A lot of Israelis are attending the demonstrations in Jerusalem, far more than they tell you, and they often also attend other demonstrations large and small in other places. I have been at demonstrations and other mass events, and I can reasonably estimate the number of people in a crowd. Last Saturday, to encourage the protesters, thousands of supporters carrying black flags and placards stood at junctions and on bridges throughout the country.
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The demonstrations have no defined leadership, steady funding or a clear plan of action. Information is decentralized and spread by word of mouth or social media. All kinds of political groups stream to the Balfour Street protests, along with many who don’t belong to any group. The demonstrators make their own signs, accessories and sometimes costumes. They make a lot of noise, shouting, singing and whistling, and with bicycle horns, pots and pans. This is an authentic civil protest and the most exciting one I’ve ever been privileged to see.
The demonstrations are very political, in sharp contrast to the “pareve,” fearful and self-defeating atmosphere during the 2011 protests. They are focused on the demand that the prime minister accused of crimes yield his seat, along with his swollen, detached and corrupt government. There are many messages in favor of democracy and against dictatorship, for integrity and against corruption. There are musical instruments, flowers and pictures of hearts.