Are Demonstrations Effective?

You certainly are describing a trend over the past few years, where the national camp has stopped going out in masses in the streets in order to demonstrate, and this issue certainly needs to be addressed and discussed.

Nadia Matar

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Arutz 7
[Written in response to a letter questioning the efficacy of public demonstrations, such as those favored by the author?s Women in Green organization.]

Dear Silvia,

You certainly are describing a trend over the past few years, where the national camp has stopped going out in masses in the streets in order to demonstrate, and this issue certainly needs to be addressed and discussed.

Sunday night, we were close to 1,000 people, and would have been probably double had there not been other events in Jerusalem (the Pollard rally and the celebration of a new Tora Scroll in memory of Sara Lisha). But still, even if those events were not taking place, the hundreds of thousands of Jews who oppose Oslo and who despise Shimon Peres would still have stayed home.

And the question is, why? I have discussed this question often with many Israelis and my conclusion is that people do not believe in the power of demonstrations. They feel, ?What's the point? Who am I going to get instead of the current leadership anyway?? They did come out in masses during the Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres era, because then, we all had high hopes that Binyamin Netanyahu would change everything. After he came to power and continued in the footsteps of Oslo, already at that time less people came to demonstrate, disappointed.

However, during Ehud Barak?s term, people again started going out - hoping Ariel Sharon would be the man. And then came the shock and horror; even our hero Sharon has betrayed the national camp and is going in the footsteps of Shimon Peres. ?Why on earth should we demonstrate?? they say. ?What is the point? What leader is going to be different? There is nobody on the arena; we have no power to change anything; nobody listens; nobody pays attention to us anyway; we?d rather stay home and work in our kitchen; or we?d rather just pray to Hashem and hope G-d will save us....? Others completely disassociate themselves from what is going on, stop listening to the news, deal with their daily lives, hope to survive the day without reality hurting them too much. They do not want to have anything to do anymore with the political scene.

Women in Green disagrees with that fatalistic attitude. First of all, even if demonstrations were not helpful, when evil is done one has to scream against that evil. Our Sages say that if a woman is raped and she can scream, but does not scream, people might think she consented to the rape. The same with us: the Oslo accords are the rape of the Jewish people. We were forced, against the will of the majority, by Peres & Co., to have relations with the mass-murderer Yasser Arafat and were asked to give him parts of our body (the Biblical Land of Israel). And, to our shame, Sharon plans on doing exactly the same. We need to be out in the streets so that the world will know (and the history books will know) that the people opposed this rape. Even if demonstrations would not help. We need to represent truth. We need to scream the Jewish message loud and clear.

But in addition, I believe demonstrations do help. Had we not demonstrated over the years, we would have been so much worse off.

And, therefore, do not get discouraged by a demonstration of 1,000 people like last Sunday night. The relatively small number does not mean that the people are not with us. Yes, the people have lost faith in protests. (And by the way, native-born Israelis never believed in the power of demonstrations.) But, from talking to people, from hearing how people talk on radio shows and in interviews, from hearing that only 30,000 people signed on the Ami Ayalon-Sari Nusseiba plan to create a PLO state in Yesha - as opposed to the 350,000 signatures Women in Green gathered against a PLO state in Yesha - we know that the vast majority of the Jewish people are sane, love their land, love their heritage, yearn for a new leadership. They just are a bit discouraged. We also need to be in the streets for them, to raise their spirits. And we will!

We will continue to go out into the streets and we will know that we represent the vast majority of the Jewish People; until we get the proper Jewish leadership, one that will proudly say: the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel, based on the Torah of Israel.