Friday, May 04, 2007

On Last Night's Rally

ANALYSIS: May 3 rally stands apart in historical significance
Ari Shavit, Haaretz Correspondent

On Zeitlin Street there was more room but on Bloch it was crowded. In Rabin Square itself it was hot and sticky, it was difficult to breathe and move. A hundred thousand? A hundred and fifty thousand? Two hundred thousand? It doesn't really matter.

The May 3 demonstration was different from all other protests in Rabin Square. It was the first inter-tribal demonstration. A demonstration of Meretz-NRP, of Yossi Beilin and Uzi Landau, of Uri Avnery and the Yesha Council. A demonstration of settlers praying in the corner and those from the northern quarters of Tel Aviv, with the tight T-shirts and the "Let the Animals Live" slogans.

The demonstration of May 3 was the demonstration of those Israelis with different beliefs who came to the square not to protest each other but to demonstrate against those without beliefs. To protest against the hollow. To protest against the cynics. To protest against those without conscience and compass.

It was not easy to stand together. The shared songs to connect the various tribes were missing. The code words, the shared calls to battle were missing. The shared ceremonies were missing. And still, there was a quiet elevation of spirit in the air. There was the sense that "it is happening." That honest Israelis from the entire spectrum could defeat the mutual alienation, the indifference and come to the square to voice their protest. To say what a nation whose leadership turned its back on them says.

For Ehud Olmert the significance of the demonstration last night is obvious: Now he is not an elected prime minister, he is an appointed prime minister.

If Olmert wants to renew his legitimacy, he should bring his own supporters to the square. There will be 10 billion, 10 reporters and 10 PR mercenaries. Around them will be those from Kadima who lack a backbone, and which on Thursday began the roll toward the fate of Shinui. How appropriate that the good friend of Tommy Lapid is now leading the supporters of opportunism to the same political future to which Lapid led his own opportunistic backers.

The May 3 demonstration had much broader and deeper significance. It was the start of the uprising of the Israeli public against the unworthy elites. Now the ball is back in the court of the politicians. If Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres do not brace themselves quickly, Kadima will not survive.

No comments: