Saturday, September 24, 2011

What comes after Arab Spring?

There have been wide-spread civil protests this summer in Israel.  The one that has affected me the most has been the doctor's strike.  The one that has made the biggest splash has been the tenting students on Rothchild Street.

On September 4th, Israeli's organized the biggest demonstration ever in Israel.  We were on the beach that afternoon, and a group with banners and a bull horn walked through notifying everyone of the evening rally.  We went for an evening walk in the general direction of the rally, and joined a sea of wall-to-wall people on a major street, Ibn Gvirol, for about 5 blocks, at which point the march turned a corner to head to the square and we turned left to work our way slowly back home.

What felt unusual for such a large demonstration was my sense of safety.   There were families everywhere, with strollers and other baby carriers.  There were children marching along with parents, sometimes helping hold signs.  There were Israeli-Arabs taking part. There were Europeans, Russians, Ethiopians, Nigerians, French, British, Americans - most sharing the commonality of being Israeli.  There was no sense of danger that can sometimes come with crowds of such a large size.  This was a truly peaceful demonstration.

That was 20 days ago.  Focus has again shifted. It is not yet clear what, if anything, will come of the tent city movement.

Last night, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian territories made his bid for Statehood to the United Nations General Assembly.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke afterwards.  I encourage anyone interested in understanding a little about the country I live in currently to listen to this speech (click on the link).  It is not only informative, but he is an excellent orator.