Monday, May 07, 2007

You say you want a revolution....

The people of Israel came out in throngs this past Thursday night demanding a change of government. I joined hundreds of thousands of fellow Israelis in Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv to call on prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz to resign. In the wake of the damning Winograd Report, it appears that the Israeli people have lost their patience with the current government. (A comparable protest in America would have drawn between 11 and 12 million people to the Capitol!)

The rally drew people from all segments of Israeli society. While I am saddened that it takes a situation like this to bring together opposing political parties, I must say that it was an amazing feeling to be surrounded by and united with people from groups as diverse as Meretz and National Union party. There were young and old, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, religious and secular, left and right. The organizers insured that the rally would be apolitical by refraining from inviting politicians to speak. The speakers included authors, bereaved parents and leaders from the miluim (reserve officers). I found most of the speeches to be passionate and moving, although somewhat repetitive ("Olmert: Resign!")

The state of affairs in this country has reached a moral low. Our suspended president has been summoned to a hearing with the attorney-general on two counts of rape. The finance minister has suspended himself on suspicions of bribery. The prime and defense ministers are clinging to power despite the complete loss of the public's confidence, as demonstrated by the rally.

Furthermore, university students across Israel have been on strike for the past three weeks. There are domestic problems, and terrorist threats abound. Not to mention threats against this country's very existence. In some ways, it seems this country is falling apart at the seams! And yet, as I wrote a friend who lives in America the other day, somehow, miraculously, this country continues to function, flourish and thrive. People continue to learn, go to work, party and the pulse of democracy beats wildly. At the end of the day, there's no place I'd rather be.

(Becky almost getting arrested at another protest outside of the Prime Minister's residence. Sign reads: "The right and the left call on Olmert to stop!")