Over 300,000 Israelis came out to the streets last week to demonstrating in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv with a call for social justice. Over 1,000,000 others followed live on their TV’s . First page headlines continue to cover what appears to be the strongest protest movement ever to be seen in the history of Israel and the government, who caught itself unprepared for this “social Tsunami”, appears stuttering as it attempts to engage the growing crowds.
Few have predicted that the initiative of a few young people who setup tents in the Tel Aviv 3 weeks ago will pick up such steam. But the moment was ripe and soon enough, tent sites turned up in over 40 cities around the country. But tent life had much more than protests in mind. The daily scene was a beautiful gathering of young people who have found themselves engaged in a profound conversation about the further they seek to create in their country. “It’s Zionism, phase II” told me a veteran activist as she observed the discussion circles that function daily until the late hours of the night. Discussion issues included education, welfare, medicine, minority rights and public services and they culminate in an attempting to built and refine a foundation for a new treaty between the government and people of this land. I took an Egyptian friend who visited here last week to observe share some notes on her experience in Tahrir. “It is organized here ” she commented as we departed from the students in Jerusalem tent who gave her a standing ovation. “These guys appear to have a sense of what they want.”