For 32 weeks now, every Saturday evening, hundreds of thousands of Israelis, in more than hundred different locations, are taking to the streets. We are protesting against the Netanyahu government’s legislation to abolish the independence of the judiciary, to grant absolute power to its ministers, to politicize the Supreme Court, to subvert Israel’s democracy.
Prime Minister Netanyahu won the vote in the Knesset last month, as the first bill was approved, with 64 out of 120 members of the Israeli parliament voting for it. The rest boycotted the vote.
Yet, the protests against the anti-democratic overhaul are not subsiding. On the contrary, they are expanding and growing stormier, but the protestors are not violent. The police, however, under National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, are more brutal now.
The enemies of Israel, mainly Iran and its proxies, watch these developments in my country but interpret them entirely in the wrong way. For them, these are a sign of weakness, of erosion of the Jewish state. This misinterpretation leads Iran and its proxies to greater arrogance, to increasingly violent provocations, mainly along Israel’s border of Lebanon, but in remote arenas as well. Misinterpretation may lead to miscalculations that may lead to a regional military confrontation.
The thousands of Israelis taking to the streets—myself included—are doing so out of love of Israel, out of loyalty to the democratic values of its founders. They are afraid that Netanyahu wants to steal from them the state they fought for, the only place where they want their children to grow up.
Almost every Saturday evening I go to the City Hall square of my hometown, meeting the demonstrators: people of all generations, the classmates of wife, the classmates of my children, men who served with me in the military and in operations and wars—“Brothers in Arms,” as one of the protest movements is named.
I look at the faces of the demonstrators and I know exactly who they are. These are the men and women who give Israel its scientific and cultural excellence, its economic advantages, its military superiority. They are all patriots who care about their country. To interpret their demonstrations as a weakness of Israel is a dangerous mistake.
True, many of the pilots, the hard core of the Israeli Air Force, intelligence analysts, cyber experts, members of Israel Defense Force’s elite units, warn that they would not serve a dictatorial regime of Netanyahu and his extremist coalition partners, and some are acting on their warnings. But if Israel is attacked, they will all rush to their units ready to serve in devotion and excellence.
Yes, Israel is divided. But there is no parity between the two camps. The democratic camp, the demonstrators, are those who make Israel into what it really is. Without them, with only the other camp, Israel is a third world nation, not the “start-up nation.” In city and village squares across Israel every Saturday night, among these demonstrators, you find the good Israel.
We shall face crises, struggles, elections. In the end, the good Israel will prevail. Actually, it is the only one that can survive.
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