Social protests face next challenge: Loss of interest
Now of all times, during the moments that are liable to signal the protest's gradual end, its leaders must continue to invigorate the language that is taking shape under them.
The protest now faces its most important test. After one of the country's greatest shows of solidarity ever, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets of their cities to identify with the protest and demand social justice, the organizers of the tent city on Rothschild Boulevard are confronting the bitter enemy of any struggle anywhere: a loss of interest.
The high point of the protest, which came only four days ago, naturally was followed by an anticlimax. The people's pleasure was a peak that the organizers will find hard to repeat, and the possibility that fewer people will attend the next rally has turned into a horror scenario that should not be put to the test.
Alongside the fear of a failure of numbers, the protest organizers are now confronting a far more destructive decline in excitement: ebbing media interest. In recent weeks it was television, the newspapers and the websites that placed the protest at the top of their agendas and enabled it to grow to unprecedented proportions. Now, after the initial stimulus has waned and the expected catharsis has been achieved, the media are looking for another issue, while the protest is being sidelined.
Now of all times, during the moments that are liable to signal the protest's gradual end, its leaders must continue to invigorate the language that is taking shape under them. The protest must continue to be cast in this new language, without attributing too much importance to the tactical aspects. Public relations and media considerations are not relevant to an expression of anger and the taking of a stance. To a great extent these are the main characteristics of the old language that the tent city's chiefs are trying to cast off.
The performance by singer Shlomo Artzi on Saturday night marked the dangerous stage in which the struggle measures itself by appearance rather than substance. Quality is replaced by quantity. The protest organizers must avoid this trap. Even if they bring fewer people to the next rally, and even if the media decide to withdraw completely from the encampment on Rothschild, the organizers should not be discouraged. To change national priorities, one needs to update familiar patterns of protest as well.