Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let’s Protest ….. Everything: The Israeli Way

Our family just returned from Israel and during the 10 or so days we were there, we found more protests per square mile regarding clearly relevant and important issues and protests that protested the protests than one would be able to imagine. This is the land of protests. We have come through tentifada, the protests regarding needing to better meet the needs of the disabled, protests against the referred - to Occupation (please don’t protest, I am just referencing the name), protests supporting the efforts of TZAHAL, protests regarding the religious control and presence in various communities, protests regarding the lack of religious control and presence in various communities, protests about the economic situation, and oh yes, there is that other issue… you know, the treatment of women.

Should they be visible or invisible? Should they be visible part of the time or all of the time? How long should their sleeves be? While one man spits at a child whose sleeves are not long enough (shame on him and any others like him!) another very Haredi community has now required that their women wear their skirts to the middle of their calves, and NOT full length in…. (yes, you guessed it) PROTEST of the Modern Orthodox and National Religious women who wear long skirts (for me, its just that I like that flowy, hippy style!). Then there are those in Ramat Beit Shemesh who protest any length of skirt and wear their Burkas, in protest! Does anyone else find this as absurd as I do?

Protests abound in support of women being visible on billboards, singing at celebratory events in the army and not having to be relegated to the back of the bus. Then there are other protests for the rights of the Haredi men who are now serving in the army (after many years of efforts that went into making that happen) who should not have to hear the voices of women. Further, now there is a new “potential wall” to protest – the one being discussed that would divide Beit Shemesh, an entirely other discussion.

It really is a wonder anyone has any time to do much of anything else in the course of a normal week here (whatever that might look like). PROTESTING can be a full time involvement in this tiny and VERY VOCAL country! So, I think this can be a good thing. Thank G-d, in this country people can protest and counter-protest and then protest against the counter-protesters and generally everyone gets their word, their street corners, their newspaper and media coverage and of course, this just fuels all of the protests even more. Israel definitely gets credit and praise for this – you know, its called Freedom of Speech!

That being said, I wonder if the core issues are getting lost in the overly plentiful protests as wonderful and important thoughts get lost in too many words. While the raising of voices is to be valued and appreciated, I am concerned that while some are yelling louder and louder for whatever they are protesting, others are getting headaches and just losing their way. What if we all join in one large protest in which we would ask all factions and groupings in Israeli society to treat each other with the respect and regard that they would hope to be treated? Are you listening, Hillel and Akiba? What if we protested protests and promoted dialogue and sitting down to deeply listen to the other and make their cause our concern? So much in our Jewish tradition really encourages us to do just that. I personally think it is the way to go, but I know…. This would definitely lead to another protest!

No comments:

Post a Comment