I went tonight to the rally in Rabin Square by Sholom Achshav to mark 50 years of occupation. Before going I was skeptical – another rally, what would it accomplish? On the other hand putting on my journalist hat, I said how can I not go. When I first arrived, I was enthusiastic. I went around interviewing people taking notes. I even got a some good quotes. A man about my age, who is a wounded veteran and who lost his brother in the Yom Kippur War said “that the Six Day War was a great victory- but if we keep the territories forever it will be the end of the state.” Another couple, also my age who actually arrived in Israel from Argentina 42 years ago two months before I first arrived said “we have to bring about change”.
But then the rally started and the speeches began. There were a few minutes of news in the speeches, Herzog who was met with both cheers and boo’s called for the creation of one bloc on the center left that would include both Kachlon and Lapid- both names were met with boo’s but Herzog went on to call for an open primary for the leader of the bloc. Nice idea but it’s not clear how you get Lapid who is convinced that his only chance to be Prime Minister is to move to the right, to join in the effort. Ayamn Odeh, that head of the Joint Arab list called for the creation of joint bloc called the democratic bloc. An interesting idea, but after interviewing Odeh two years ago I have been very disappointed in his actions, and even in his speech. He was very careful in defining himself, as a Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel, but could not call himself an Israeli.
As the rally came to the end, I mostly felt sad. A feeling I have been having often lately( not on a personal level but on a political level). Sad that this was the nth rally I have attended in the last six years since we returned, sad that there was nothing new. Sad that the left continued to think short term, instead of worrying about the long term. Odeh talked about democracy, but in reality democracy is eroding in this country, and most people are not even aware of it. I am not sure of the answers but I am fairly sure that our current leadership does not have them.