Today is not 1974, and the political crisis that has paralyzed the country for the last year can in no way in the world be compared to the Yom Kippur War.
By HERB KEINON – www.jpost.com
In February 1974, Motti Ashkenazi, a recently released reservist who served in Sinai during the Yom Kippur War, parked himself outside of then-prime minister Golda Meir’s office in Jerusalem with a sign that read, “Grandma, your defense is a failure and 3,000 of your children are dead.”
His one-man protest against the failures leading up to, and during, the Yom Kippur War swelled into a mass movement, one that caused the government to resign a few months later and led in 1977 to the end of the Labor Party’s historic ironclad grip on power.
Yet, one striking thing about the current political crisis is that it did not trigger any mass public movement. Sure, there were sporadic rallies for and against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or for and against the state attorney and the legal establishment, but the most they attracted were a few thousand people with a partisan agenda.
There was no effort to rally tens of thousands of people into Rabin Square in Tel Aviv demanding the parties end the logjam and figure out a way, for the collective good, to do the most basic thing a government must do for its people: govern.
Would it make a difference, New Right leader Ayelet Shaked was asked at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference last month, if masses of people would take to the streets with placards calling on their leaders to do something, declaring the nation cannot tolerate being without a fully functioning government?
“I think it would,” she said. “It would create pressure on the politicians.”
But those rallies never materialized, and that pressure never built up.
There are many possible reasons why no such movement emerged.
First of all, as Shaked herself speculated, it has to do with the public believing up until the very end that the politicians would work it out, that this would go down to the wire, but that it was all just a matter of brinkmanship, and at one minute to midnight someone would give in and a government would be formed.
This, actually, is how it has always happened in the past, and most thought that this would be the way it would happen in 2019 as well. Except that it didn’t.
Another reason Shaked proffered for why people did not take to the streets was a feeling that in this social media era, if you want to protest, you write a snarky post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Yet that doesn’t explain large protests organized by Ethiopian-Israelis following the shooting of Solomon Tekah in the summer, or by the Arab community in October to protest runaway violence on the Arab-Israeli street.
Those large protests this year alone show that people do take to the streets, but that they take to the streets when something affects and impacts them directly. Both the Ethiopian and Arab communities protested en masse against issues that touched their lives directly.
The masses, apparently, have not felt the direct impact of this political crisis on their lives. The impact of being without a fully working government now for a year will be felt by average citizens only at the beginning of next year, when services people are used to receiving from the government ministries – from health to social and even religious services – will not be available because a new budget has not been passed.
Another way that the average citizens might feel the lack of a fully functioning government would be if one of the country’s enemies viewed Israel as weak and vulnerable, and decided that this was the perfect time – without anyone fully in charge – to pounce.
And a third reason for a lack of a significant protest movement over this issue is simple apathy, the sense that demonstrations would not make a difference. If casting a vote does not get the politicians to form a government, why would going out to a protest do the trick?
This is one of the biggest dangers of the ongoing political logjam, and what the lack of any significant protest movement on the street reflects – a growing feeling in the country that the system simply does not work.