By an AFSC staff member in Jerusalem: Protesters demand democracy for all in Israel

By Sahar Vardi (August 14, 2020)

Sahar, the author, getting shot by a water cannon at a protest on July 14th
Sahar, the author, getting shot by a water cannon at a protest on July 14th, 2020 Photo: / AFSC

Sahar, the author, getting shot by a water cannon at a protest on July 14th. 2020 Photo: / AFSC

July 14th is the Bastille day–the day in which the Bastille fell, and that has come to symbolize the French revolution. This year, on this highly symbolic day, a steady, years old anti-corruption movement in Israel morphed itself into something else completely. By the end of that night, more than 50 protesters –including myself–were led to a police station soaking wet after hours of water cannons trying to disperse the hundreds of protesters blocking roads all around Jerusalem.

The background to these protests are a combination of a prime minister who has been indicted and currently stands on trial on multiple charges of corruption, an “emergency coalition government” formed to respond to the COVID crisis after three elections in which Israeli politics were at a complete deadlock, a complete failure of the government to address the spread of the “second wave” of COVID in the country, and the failed economic response to COVID giving symbolic blanket payouts on the one hand while failing to actually address the needs of those who lost their jobs and incomes….

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Protesters holding a "Democracy for all" sign in Arabic and Hebrew
Protesters holding a “Democracy for all” sign in Arabic and Hebrew
Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Prime Minister official residence in Jerusalem on July 24, 2020. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

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