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We’re Fed Up With Your Protests

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Protests in Tel Aviv against the 'recommendations law' on December 2, 2017
Protests in Tel Aviv against the 'recommendations law' on December 2, 2017Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Another historic Saturday night looms: Tens of thousands will march down Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard once more. Judging by the reactions to last week’s historic Shabbat, we’re in for another stunning success. Smugness reached new heights, in real life and on social media. “Israelis’ sense of justice is what was burning,” that politician of protest Isaac Herzog pronounced.

How lovely, O people of Israel; how lovely the sense of justice that burns within you, so intently you could cry. It’s encouraging to see people shrug off their apathy; they even have a determined, admirable populist leader, but the goals are evasive, cowardly, trivial and they run away from what’s most important.

The “recommendations bill” — for this Israel will take to the streets. The hatred for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jolted a third of a percent of Israelis from their indifference. The last time it happened, the price of cottage cheese fell. Now they want the publication of police recommendations, the preservation of the rule of law and of course Netanyahu’s downfall. Supremely worthy goals. But the people are still afraid to touch what really matters. The recommendations bill will fail, and Netanyahu’s end will come. Then what?

There are a thousand reasons for these good Israelis to take to the streets, and they chose the least of them. What they should do is to come out en masse Saturday night against U.S. President Donald Trump’s insane plan to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Millions, half the nation, should be there to cry out, Thanks but no thanks, America. We’re not willing to spill more blood for your hollow gestures. We don’t want another prize for the occupier, another carrot for the criminal. We don’t want an embassy in Jerusalem, we want justice and equality in Jerusalem.

Just imagine millions of Israeli, Jews and Arabs, marching together against Trump’s decision. What an effect this would have, here in Israel and around the world. What an embarrassment it would be to Trump, who is convinced that he is bestowing good upon Israel but is actually corrupting and drugging it even more. What a success that would have been.

But there’s no chance of that happening. The number of Israelis who’d be interested could fit in a phone booth. That’s why the masses will once again shout on Rothschild Boulevard, “We’re fed up with your corruption,” and will once again marvel at themselves and their consciences.

They should be marching Saturday night en masse against the draft law that makes supporting a boycott of Israel a crime punishable by a seven-year prison sentence. This bill threatens Israeli democracy infinitely more than the recommendations bill. If someone here will be sent to prison for believing a boycott will end the occupation, it will end what’s left of Israeli democracy and freedom of expression. Turkey in Israel. Against this we must demonstrate. Or against the siege on the Gaza Strip. Just imagine millions of people marching down Rothschild, week after week, in solidarity with the millions of people trapped in Gaza.

But there’s no chance of that. While they march down Rothschild against the recommendations bill, another cancer patient in Gaza will die because he can’t leave the Strip to get medical treatment. What does Rothschild Boulevard have to do with that?

It would also be proper to demonstrate Saturday night against the plan to send tens of thousands of African asylum seekers to their deaths. Against the evil of those who are sending them. In your dreams. We have the recommendations bill to protest.

The recommendations bill is an awful piece of legislation. It would undermine law enforcement and delay Netanyahu’s removal from, a process that is accelerating. But to what end? So that Gideon Sa’ar can be appointed in his stead? So that Avi Gabbay can be elected, or Yair Lapid?

In 2017 it is immoral to demonstrate against the recommendations bill. When the U.S. president is pushing the Palestinians to the brink of despair, when in Israel the state is threatening to imprison people for their opinions and deport asylum seekers to their deaths, when in Gaza there is no life, the demonstrations on Rothschild are another characteristic way to feel good about making believe you are doing something.

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