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Thousands of people remain in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and others are taking to the streets in other major cities across Israel. Unlike protest movements in other parts of the region, there is not even a hint of violence or potential violence.
This is not a movement created by a broken system, as much as one created by the awareness that with success come new challenges, challenges from which a healthy society must not shrink if it hopes to continue being as successful as Israel has been.
The current demonstrations in Israel lack focus, and there is no real agreement about what the protestors really want. What is clear however, is that for the first time in Israel’s history, the demonstrations are NOT about security, terrorism, or anything of that sort. This is a movement not about threats from outside of Israel, but about the quality of life within Israel. That alone is a magnificent achievement.
It’s hard to know how, if at all, today’s murderous terror attacks which left 7 dead and 31 injured in the south of Israel may affect the protest movement or its participants. We will have to wait and see. On that front the only things that matter now are securing the country, caring for the wounded and grieving with the families of those who were murdered.
And whatever direction the protest movement goes, it has already evoked some rather inspired and inspiring thinking from young leaders across the country – people who are both idealistic about the future and fearless when it comes to asking tough questions about how to achieve that future. Among them is a friend of mine named Gild Perry, a leader in the Dror Israel movement and author of a powerful letter addressed to Jews world-wide, and to all people who care about Israel. In fact, it is a letter for all people who care about what it means to establish secure and ethical democracies for the 21st century.
Here is a bit of Perry’s letter, the rest of which can be found on the Jerusalem Post site where the letter appeared when it was also published in the paper:
The State of Israel is a miracle, a social and national phenomenon unlike anything the world has ever seen. The Jewish people, who throughout the generations obligated themselves to a strict moral code of social solidarity, have established an exceptional state based on the essential Jewish values that aided our survival through 2,000 years of exile – “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” and tikkun olam (repairing the world).
I am writing to you because something has changed in Israel. I am not speaking about the conflict. I am speaking of the rift that has broken down the solidarity within the country and compromised our ability to survive as a small state in the Middle East…
Israel’s’ challenges are not so unique, but its response may be, if not unique, at least an important model for the world. Certainly Perry’s approach is and I hope that people will listen to him and to other intelligent voices articulating a path to a better, more secure and more humane future for all of Israel’s citizens and for the world.