Israelis, Go Protest!

Saturday the power of a society will be tested - a society that has finally come alive and grown up after decades of slumber.

As the social protest enters its eighth week and the demonstration planned for Saturday is set to be the greatest in Israeli history, it's time to issue an emergency mobilization order. All people who care about their lives in this country must, simply must, report for duty.

All people who thought they could do nothing but grumble and discovered it can be completely different have a duty, not only a right, to go outside and come to the square.

mass protest 6.8.11
Tal Cohen

Rightists and leftists, Jews and Arabs, women and men, young and old, religious and secular, northerners and southerners - everyone must be in Kikar Hamedina Saturday night.

Saturday the power of a society will be tested - a society that has finally come alive and grown up after decades of slumber. If the masses flood the square, their outcry will be heard. Nobody, not even Benjamin Netanyahu's government, could ignore hundreds of thousands of Israelis demanding change and social justice.

Size matters, but it's not the only thing. From the protest's first day, from the first large demonstration on July 23, it was marked by an enthusiasm we never witnessed at any other demonstration, perhaps since the birth of the state. Winds of change like that haven't blown since the night the state was declared, when we danced outside the old Tel Aviv Museum on Rothschild Boulevard.

The day after the first demonstration, I wrote here that a new spirit had emerged. At the second demonstration, I was proud to be an Israeli, more than I had been for years. At the third demonstration, the largest ever, I felt that Israel was celebrating its renewed independence.

A wind has blown through the country in recent weeks, changing the language, agenda and tone. Instead of a bunch of cynical, cliche-reciting and deceiving politicians, we have a group of plain-speaking youngsters who have set the agenda and tone. Instead of a group of greedy, ostentatious tycoons we have humble tent-dwellers. These winds of change must blow Saturday too, but more powerfully.

All eyes will be on Kikar Hamedina Saturday, not only those yearning for success, but also the worried, frightened eyes of people fearing change in the existing order, which was so good to them. The protest's enemies, few but powerful, will stay home hoping that the demonstration will bomb.

These are most of our politicians, tycoons and owners of big companies and their relatives. People who overprice and overcharge, who drive to their minimum-wage factories in their black Mercedes, like the chairman of the ailing Pri Hagalil plant in the north. Also staying home will be the army of high-paid conservative commentators. They're all lying in wait, hoping that the revolution will fail.

In the next two days, every Israeli should remember what the state and society looked like before the first tent was set up, what people talked about and dealt with. We should compare it to what we're dealing with today. We should think of the reduced prices, the rich who suddenly have adopted more modest ways, the government that appoints committees, reduces companies' profits and uses, at least outwardly, a new language. We should think especially about our politicians, who suddenly seem so pale and shabby beside the impressive appearance of Daphni, Stav and Itzik Shmuli.

Anyone who wants this music to end Saturday should stay at home. Anyone who thinks this music must not be stopped must show up. Nine o'clock at the square. That's the time, that's the place.