I just came back from the very large rally in Kikar Rabin (60,000-100,000)against the vote in the Knesset not to include gay men in the law approving payments for surrogate adoptions. It was the largest rally that I can remember recently, and it followed a day of strikes and smaller rallies all over the country.
The rally was attended by young and old and probably most important a demographic that has been missing from most protests this year- the 30 somethings that were there in large numbers filling up the square.
While the rally and the days’ events were initially aimed solely at the issue of gay surrogacy- it soon became apparent that the issues were larger. The anger was directed at all of the many things that the government did in the past week and beyond. Speakers talked about the arrest of the Conservative Rabbi. A settler from a Kibbutz surrounding the Gaza Strip spoke about events there this past week, Yael Dayan(daughter of Moshe Dayan), 80 and ailing spoke, about saving the Declaration of Independence from the Nationality Law that passed last week.
Bibi brought this on himself by his zig zags last week. On Monday speaking out and releasing a video supporting gay men receiving the same rights as other in surrogacy, and then on Thursday when the Ultra-Orthodox threatened him he led the vote against it.
That act inflamed the feeling of that part of the country who have liberal values and do not want to be dictated to by a group of Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis. It coalesced around the issue of LGBTQ rights where there is wide consensus and where everyone knows someone- but it may be deeper. Ultimately that is the question of the night. Have the events of the past weeks awakened those who want Israel to be part of the Western world – a liberal democracy from the slumber, or is this another transient phenomena limited to a single issue?
I do not have the answer.