If the success of a protest depends on clever slogans and gimmicks, Saturday night’s anti-government demonstration in Jerusalem was clearly on the right path.
“Put your hands in the air!” ordered one of the leaders, and thousands of hands shot up.
“Put three fingers in the air!” was the next order—admittedly a
puzzling one—and thousands of fingers were raised.
“Now sing!” came the order. And hundreds of voices joined in a song that was a parody of the children’s song, “My hat has three corners.”
And these were the words:
“My Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] has three apartments.
If he didn’t have three apartments, there would be an apartment for me.”
How different are today’s politicians, one wealthier than the next, from the founders of the country, and how far have we come from the founding principles. In a historic film clip screened at the protest, Ben-Gurion read Israel’s declaration of independence, which promised that the state would ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants.
Were 300,000 people really on the streets in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem Saturday night, as the newspapers announced with glee the following morning? Half that number might be a better estimate, but one thing was certain. More people protested Saturday night than did the previous week. And my guess is that even more will protest next Saturday night. And soon, I hope, there will be a critical mass that will force change.
Gilad Shalit wants a home, too
Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been held captive by Hamas for more than five years. His family and supporters are now permanently esconced in a tent near the Prime Minister’s Residence, just where the big demo was held Saturday night. They displayed a poster that added yet another aspect to the expression of dissatisfaction with the government.
Young architects speak out for the cause
The young architects branch of the Israel Association of United Architects has announced plans for an exhibition on public housing, with a focus on “original and unusual solutions” for affordability, mixed uses (including residential), sustainability, and urban density.
According to the announcement, “in many developed countries, residential construction is promoted by means of open architectural competitions that examine innovative types and models for public housing. Such competitions … enable new talent to … present fresh architectural thinking.”
The young architects call on the Housing Ministry to conduct a planning competition and to renew construction of public housing.
The government gets one thing right
The cabinet has approved arrangements and supervision regarding the supply of cannabis for medical and research uses. The Health Ministry will be responsible for supplies from import and local cultivation.
Cannabis is already available in Israel for medical use, as I learned about two years ago from a Jerusalem friend who described going to a seedy location in Tel Aviv to pick up her supply. Perhaps now the cannabis will be dispensed in the same clinic where a cancer sufferer receives other treatment.
Text and photos copyright 2011 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text or photos may be used without written permission of the author.