'Revolution' Picks Up Steam

Yesterday there was a unique alliance in Jerusalem, a heterogeneous alliance that includes masses of young people, mostly Zionists.

The city elders, the elders of all the cities, stood by as if they couldn't believe it. Could this be Jerusalem? Around 30,000 people gathered in the city center and cried out for justice, a cry that hadn't been heard in the city. The spotlight yesterday was on the mass demonstration in Tel Aviv, but the sight in Jerusalem was out of this world, as if the Foreign Legion had conquered the city center.

But these were Jerusalemites who experienced a sense of solidarity and pride they hadn't felt in years. Where were all these masses when it appeared for years that they had surrendered unconditionally to other forces, when it was clear that the rules had changed, that the city had been abandoned to a different agenda, a rightist-religious one, in which demonstrations broke up only after violent clashes with the police?

Mass protest Jerusalem - Tomer Applebaum - August 6 2011
Tomer Applebaum

With emotion but with great order, the masses marched through the city shouting "revolution." Is this rebellion here to stay? Will it die out? For the time being it's only picking up strength.

Like elsewhere in Israel, the people who gathered here last night had hitherto watched developments from the side, in quiet outrage. The fact that this crowd is making its voice heard is amazing, especially in Jerusalem. Take this example for the rapid change in thinking: The stage, the roadblocks and the electricity networks that served the demonstration in Jerusalem were put up yesterday afternoon, many hours before the end of the Sabbath.

For years in Jerusalem there hadn't been such a violation in the streets, in public, without someone complaining. Just a month ago the country was focused on the Haredi demonstrations over the Sabbath. Exactly a year ago, "A Star is Born" had to place observers at the Sultan's Pool lest someone use a screwdriver during the Sabbath. This time the rules were different. The attitude was different.

Yesterday there was a unique alliance in Jerusalem. It's hard to call it secular, even though it's clearly so. It's hard to call it Ashkenazi, even though it's clearly so. It's a heterogeneous alliance that includes masses of young people, mostly Zionists. But some also aren't, with communist flags.

Yesterday the older demonstrators stood out, joining the people in their 20s and 30s. In recent decades their children have abandoned the city, and suddenly the parents have emerged from their homes with a sense of empowerment.