All those who are disappointed that the social protest is "waning" or has lost direction can calm down. Anyone who thinks that the masses can be swayed for long in such a callous, close-minded society is dreaming. But the protest is alive, kicking and screaming. It's just perched at a crossroads.
It's been visited by a miracle, in fact. It has succeeded beyond all expectations, and quickly at that. Even the Trajtenberg Committee's harshest critics know that it represents a change, that the neo-liberal passions have cooled even in the heart of the establishment, and that while most of the Knesset members are just giving the protest lip service, they nevertheless have no choice now but to try to address the protesting public.
This is indeed a miracle, though it also poses a danger. It is relatively easy to bring the masses to the streets under the vague slogan of "the people demand social justice," but now that the people have voiced their demand, and all agree that is what's needed, in varying degrees and interpretations, the protest must be taken to the next stage, clearly stating the precise meaning of the words "social" and "justice." And that, if you haven't noticed, is exactly what the protest leaders did at the last demonstration in Rabin Square, which only represented the visible tip of the ongoing movement. They did not emphasize increasing the budget, but rather the just, detailed distribution of public spending in all fields.
The protest continues on the ground in new, novel encounters between Jews and Arabs, secular and religious people, immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, residents of outlying communities and central cities. Young people from all strata of society throughout the country are investing time and effort in this ongoing process, whose meaning is much more profound and far-sighted than participation in one demonstration or march. And it is spearheaded - how refreshing - by young, successful, intelligent, impressively eloquent and determined women.
Something strange is happening here: In the army, female soldiers are banished from the general dance floor during the second hakafot celebration of Simhat Torah and are forced into a separate cage, while senior officers stand by, wordlessly watching the scandalous humiliation; women's singing becomes a major subject for discussion and rabbis publish tiresome, shameful halakhic rulings that support the extremists; the Chief Rabbinate reaches a low point in its oppression of women in general, and of married women and Jewish converts in particular - while the most refreshing and important protest movement ever to emerge here is headed by young women, flowing hair exposed and all, totally oblivious to these attempts at their oppression.
It is no mere chance that the far right has targeted its venomous, no-holds-barred attack at Daphni Leef. She symbolizes the threat it fears the most - the desire for a democratic civic discourse that is equal and free, that rebels against conservative hierarchies and the conventional division into left and right, and speaks in terms that Israeli society has never dared to employ. Her protest leads, to their horror, to the inescapable conclusion that their nationalist-militarist, blinkered, racist, sectarian and anti-democratic agenda is detrimental to society.
The deeper the protest delves, the more we'll see new immigrant women at its helm, alongside Arab and religious women, who will shatter the familiar stereotypes and annoy the keepers of the separatist community gates. The new spirit has had such an impact that even the opposition leader Tzipi Livni said in her speech at the opening of the Knesset's winter session that there is no social justice without justice beyond the Green Line, to which the right-wing MKs responded with a defensive growl. It seems the protest movement has provided even her with new ideas and tools, more threatening than the former ones.
To what can this be compared? To a woman who has cast off oppression and fear, and instead of crying softly she suddenly raises her voice in song, and a large public suddenly joins in her singing. This is what should be done now: singing. Sing, girls. Face the heralds of darkness and sing. Everywhere. In the army, in the workplace, in the streets, in demonstrations, in marches, in the halls of the Rabbinate. Like Miriam, like Deborah, like the great women of yore. Sing. Break through the sound barrier. That terrifies them. It disturbs them. They'll cry out that your pure voices are sinful and that your unkempt hair arouses animal instincts. This wild democracy led by talented, brave women who are making a difference threatens them and their stifling order. So break out in song, girls. How lovely is your voice. Speak in song.
קראו כתבה זו בעברית: דפני ליף, המשיכי לשיר
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