Threats to Israeli Democracy Intensify During the War
Earlier this year, before Hamas’ brutal October 7 attack redirected our focus to questions of Israeli security, it became abundantly clear that Israel’s democracy is extremely fragile, its future precarious and under assault by a far-right, would-be authoritarian government. Not only has that danger not dissipated since October 7 – it has become increasingly worrisome.
A particularly alarming reminder of the ongoing threat came this week when the Israeli police denied permission to hold pro-peace, pro-equality protests in Tel Aviv and Haifa. More than two dozen Israeli civil society organizations, led by Standing Together and Women Wage Peace, had organized to rally under the slogan “Only Peace Will Bring Security”. With the current war in Gaza now nearing its hundredth day, these organizations offer a compelling argument about the absolute necessity of a political, not military, solution; this argument must be heard within Israel’s mainstream political discourse.
For its part, the Israel Police claims that the decision to revoke the permits for these demonstrations came from “real concerns about a serious disruption to public order.” But is that truly the case? Sadly, the Israel Police’s credibility has been strained due to the efforts of its ministerial overseer, Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir, to politicize the force and make it a tool of his racist, extremist agenda. One would be naïve not to see the de-permitting of the antiwar protests squarely within that context.
We are proud to have featured many of the organizations behind the rally in our “Kolot: Voices of Hope” series, including Standing Together and Women Wage Peace, which offer a vision of a peaceful future created through Jewish-Arab cooperation and partnership. (Other organizations involved in the rally and featured in our Kolot series include the Parents Circle-Families Forum, Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence, Looking the Occupation in the Eye, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, MachsomWatch, A Land for All, Mehazkim, Itach Ma’aki, Yesh Din, Other Voice, and Rabbis for Human Rights.)
The demonstration organizers haven’t given up: They have rescheduled their events for next week and have petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to allow them to happen. We ask you, our supporters, not to give up either, and to help publicize this crucial issue.