This week, Israel began to ease the social restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But even under the strictest limitations, protests were still allowed as long as they abided by the government’s regulations.
“They said that there will be an exponential growth in the number of people with corona(virus),” said organizer Shikma Schwarzmann, “but the only thing you really see growing exponentially is the number of people who are willing to stand up and protect our nation and our democracy.”
Speaking at the protest, Member of Parliament Yair Lapid criticized Netanyahu and Parliament Speaker Benny Gantz, until recently Lapid’s political partner in the Blue and White party. Gantz broke with Lapid nearly a month ago when he agreed to serve under Netanyahu, going back on a promise that had been central to the party’s campaign. The move fractured Blue and White, with Lapid taking his faction into the opposition as Gantz pursued a unity government with Netanyahu.
“You don’t fight corruption from within. If you’re inside, you’re part of it,” Lapid said, in a not-so-subtle criticism of Gantz. “We are here to say that we will never give in. Too many good people have already surrendered.”
“That’s how democracies die in the 21st century. They’re not wiped out by tanks overrunning parliament. They die from within because good people were silent and weak people surrendered. From the outside everything looks exactly the same. The parliaments stand in the same place, the police band plays the same anthem, the leader hasn’t changed. He looks the same, he sounds the same, but it isn’t a democracy anymore.”
So far Gantz and Netanyahu have failed to agree on the terms of a new government. The latest meeting between the two sides ended Monday morning without any apparent breakthrough.