So far, this year, protestors have taken to the streets and the roads and the highways in 132 nations. The largest of these protests have been in Georgia, Peru, France, Albania, Germany, Greece, Japan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Israel. Twenty-three percent of the protests have been going on for more than three months.
While there are many reasons instigating these global protests, they all have one common goal. The protesters — all of them, are aching for change to governmental policy.
They are fighting perceived injustices.
In democratic countries, protests are tried and true.
The act of organized protesting actually does have an impact on leaders and on decision making. But sometimes, the protesters and the protests push the envelope; they go too far and, instead of affecting change, they turn into a public nuisance.
At times, they become violent and destructive.
A protest is a protest.
No matter if it consists of a simple few dedicated, loud voices waving placards and chanting slogans, if it is street theatre, or if it is the work of professional organizers riling up the locals.
The objective of professional organizers is to convert the small, initial, grassroots protests into massive and national protests.
When the momentum shifts and the protests take off and the numbers of protesters swells and the number of locations grows, the protests take on a life of their own.
That’s when the organizers can pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
When hundreds of thousands of people are participating in a protest, that’s when the change they are working towards, the goal they are striving to achieve, has a real chance of taking effect.
That’s how you bring about a desired change.
In Israel protests have been consistently growing for the past four months.
News coverage of these protests has captured the attention of international media and world leadership. Voices from all over, opinion pieces and critique can be found in major outlets almost daily.
The protesters are trying to stop judicial reform legislation.
They're trying to put a halt to legislation that would change, even neuter, the power of the Supreme Court of the State of Israel and change the process of selecting judges.
The protests have underscored the fracture in Israeli society. It's split in half.
Half want reform.
Half want to preserve the power of the Supreme Court.
Half of the population is in favor of change.
The other half prefers the status quo.
Only a few months ago Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was democratically elected — actually, re-elected, on a platform that promised judicial reform.
Now, he is following through with his promise.
There is a rule in political protests It is the tipping point rule.
The tipping point is when leadership needs to wake up and take the complaints of the protesters very seriously. And that crucial number is 10% of the voting population.
It only makes sense that there would be a natural tension between the democratic leadership, the police and the protesters.
It's that thin line of distinction that separates the freedom to protest and the need to keep order. Protests are not riots. That distinction must be maintained.
No one has the right to riot.
There is no right to loot, destroy property, or cause bodily injury.
In 2020, throughout the United States, Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests turned into Black Lives matter riots. Leadership in the various cities, states and even on the federal level chose to not stop the violence.
As a result of this non-intervention policy, protesters were then free to cause billions of dollars of damage in cities across the U.S.
Major sections of municipalities came under attack.
Federal, state and local buildings were burned. Shops were looted and destroyed.
In Israel, the leadership and the police have decided that they will try to maintain a balance between respecting the right to peacefully assemble and redress grievance and the need to preserve law and order.
So far, that plan has worked.
That is not to say that the protests and protesters have not, however, turned into an annoying nuisance.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife Sarah were on their way to Italy for a state visit with the Italian prime minister. Because of protests, they could not find a flight crew or pilots willing to take them on their 777 El Al plane.
Eventually, they found a crew. When protesters also blocked traffic at the airport, the Israeli prime minister helicoptered from Jerusalem to the airport.
Also caught up in the protest was U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Austin flew into Ben Gurion, the Israeli airport and met with Netanyahu right there, in the airport. Then he flew back out. Austin truncated his trip, all because of the protests.
The situation, so far, has not been resolved. Judicial reform is still on the table.
Protesters are still on the street and on the highways. But they are peaceful.
There is a lesson to be learned here. Maybe that’s what international eyes should be looking at — maintain law and order but permit protests.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.
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