Updated: Oct 12, 2020
October 1, 2020. Thousands of Israelis protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on the last Saturday of September, over his alleged corruption and the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A crowd rallied outside Netanyahu’s residence, blowing whistles, waving signs and flags and calling for his resignation. Israeli media estimated that about 10,000 people were attending what has become a weekly demonstration in Jerusalem. Organizers said that as many as 25,000 people joined the protest. Protests are now in their 12th week, building up over the summer as COVID-19 cases spiked. A survey published in August by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 61 percent of Israelis did not trust Netanyahu to manage the crisis.
As the numbers of protesters against the continued rein of Benjamin Netanyahu have grown over recent weeks and days, so has his desperation to retain power, dovetailing nicely with a convenient resurgence of coronavirus in his country - for which he has now deemed it expedient to outlaw protest of more than 20 people. There are more skeptics than believers, of course, and few believe that outlawing protests has little to do with him personally, since they are now all calling for his ouster. Most see it for what it is, Netanyahu´s version of the same thing as Putin, Lukashenko, and Maduro, even his buddy Trump. It is a power play seeking to milk the coronavirus for what it is worth. The Law is new, we shall see if it is obeyed.
Protest2020 is suggesting that we hold our hats on this one; there is pent up energy burning for a long time on the Israeli Left and it does not seem that this is the right moment in history to be a long time clinging on to power by hook or by crook. We will see how the Israeli electorate like having large numbers of Jewish political prisoners in jail, sitting alongside Arab ones.
Israel spends a greater part of its national budget on defense than any other country in the world, far more, and it has always been this way. Israel has felt that its very life has been threatened ever since it came into existence – with good reason, at least into recently and perhaps still, this is undeniable. This does not immediately translate, however, into the idea that Netanyahu is the only one who can lead, the only leader that knows how to best keep Israel safe. For some time now, increasingly broad sectors of the Israeli population have grown tired of Netanyahu, his relationship with Trump and Trumpism in particular. Those who suggest that the prohibition of protests of more than 20 people in Israel at exactly the same time that massive numbers were beginning to be generated against Netanyahu himself, as cynical and self-servicing. To many if not most, he appears to be seeking not only to protect Israelis but also to perpetuate his control over them.
Preoccupied with his corruption trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, the 70-year-old was indicted this past November for gifts from wealthy friends and for allegedly seeking regulatory favors for media tycoons in return for favorable coverage. His trial opened in May, set to resume in January. He denies any wrongdoing and has described his prosecution as a leftist political witch-hunt. He has also condemned the demonstrations against him, accusing protesters of trampling democracy. Protest2020 is convinced that soon it will be Netanyahu who trembles, and does so for trampling on the most highly prized of all Israeli jewels, Democracy and Freedom, leading to an alternation in power.