Year Course One Year Coursers Experience of Politics in Israel

By Young Judaea

By Ilan Tauber, Year Course 2022-2023

Reflecting on my year in Israel as it comes to a close, I genuinely think I have witnessed one of the most tumultuous times in Israeli history. The year began in the last leg of the election following the collapse of Naftali Bennett’s coalition. Political posters, banners, and stickers littered the landscape everywhere you look. As I was in Jerusalem during this period, the classes at Kiryat Moriah and the weekly trips led by Rabbi Adam Drucker provided ample space to learn about the election and the major issues driving the race. Bibi formed his coalition right as we moved to Tel Aviv. The evening I moved into Beit Hillel, I was greeted by the horns and shouts of the weekly Saturday protests coming from Kaplan street, literally five minutes away.

The protests in our backyard made it so easy to participate. The peak of the protests against the judicial reforms came the night the Minister of Defense was fired for voicing support for a pause in the legislation. As my friend and I came back from our baseball game in Petah Tikvah, an enormous crowd of people took over the Ayalon highway, the major transportation artery running through Tel Aviv. Holding our baseball bags and still in uniform, we jumped the fence and climbed through the crowd onto the bonfire ridden highway. The anger and passion from the protestors was palpable, a feeling I only recognized from the American protest following the death of George Floyd.

Additionally, my internship with Member of Knesset Gilad Kariv, of the Labor party, gave me a unique perspective on the political fight from the opposition. I was lucky enough to be in the Knesset on one of the days they voted for the judicial reforms. During the vote, the MKs against the reforms all donned Israeli flags in protest, which were subsequently confiscated. A tense first day in the Knesset to say the least.

One of my more unique political experiences came over Yom HaZikaron when I attended the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony. The ceremony hosts Israelis and Palestinians mourning victims of the conflict, along with Israeli and Palestinian speakers advocating for peace and democracy for all. It was refreshing to hear democracy discussed not just within Israel, but also for millons of Palestinians living in the West Bank. Despite how uplifting the ceremony felt, the group of far right protesters spewing hateful and racist jeers was a reminder of how far away peace truly is. As staunchly pro-settler movements continue to expand their territory and political power within the government, I am afraid Israel is further from peace and democracy than ever before. Nevertheless, the anti-government’s continued strength provides some hope of moving in the right direction.

Overall, I am very lucky to be in Israel during this once in a lifetime political climate, and am grateful Year Course has provided the freedom to participate in the national discourse.

*Young Judaea is a diverse community representing a broad spectrum of perspectives. Chanichim are encouraged to engage in makhloket l’shem shamayim (argument for the sake of heaven). Young Judaea neither condones nor condemns the personal views expressed.

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