Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining this special APN webinar with three of the organizers of the Israeli
protests turned resistance movement in opposition to the new government's anti-democratic policies, and in support
of democracy and the rule of law in Israel. I'm Ori Nir with Americans for Peace Now. I want to wish everyone a
happy Valentine's Day, today's Valentine's Day. If we talk about love in this webinar today, it will be mostly our
guests in mind, webinar for democratic Israel, that fulfills the founding vision as expressed in Israel's
Declaration of Independence. Before we start, as you usually do, you're probably familiar with it, our housekeeping
comments. This webinar is recorded both audio and video. The video will be posted on APN's YouTube channel,
probably sometime later today. And the audio also later today will become an episode on our podcast PeaceCast. This
past Saturday, I joined dozens of other Israeli Americans in the demonstration in support of Israeli democracy here
in Washington, DC. Similar protest events were taking place in numerous towns in the United States and Europe, in
solidarity with the most robust, bold protest movement in the history of Israeli society. It's a movement which, as
our guests will probably, you know, talk about it and depict it, is turning into a sort of a resistance movement.
Some call it an insurrection even or some go as far as calling it the Civil War, an actual civil war in Israel.
This movement is so powerful and so energetic that it kind of snowballs so rapidly, that yesterday's terminology to
refer to it is no longer relevant or it becomes outdated today. So a bit about our guests. We have Limor Moyal.
She's a pivotal organizer of the protests in Israel, joining us from Israel. Neri Life-Choma who is joining us from
Silicon Valley, and also from Silicon Valley is Offir Gutelzon and they are among the leaders of the global effort
to support the movement in North America and Europe. Quick few words about each one of them. Limor is a writer,
doctoral student and liberal activist. She's the founder of a movement in Israel called "Democratim," whose goal is
to change the political discourse in Israel. Neri is a member of the Israeli American community in Silicon Valley.
She is an entrepreneur and international leader in birth support. She told me that she's one of the founders of the
doula profession in Israel. And she's among the founders of a movement called "UnXeptable," which is a grassroots
movement of Israeli expats for democratic Israel. Offir Gutelzon is a co-founder of that same movement. He's also a
member of the Israeli American community in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, a serial entrepreneur. In in 2020, as I as I
mentioned, he helped launch UnXeptable. I read a little bit about his business and tech endeavors, and it's quite
impressive. So thank you all three very much for joining us today. I'd like to start with a kind of a, you know,
we're approaching Passover with a Passover question, you know, ma nishtana. How is this movement different from
past protests movements in Israel? In what way is it different and why is it different? Both related questions. And
maybe Limor we'll start with us. Tell us a bit about the nature of the movement in Israel. How does it work? Is
there a coordination between the components of the movement, how it is done, take us into the into the movement and
talk a little bit about the workings of the movement?
Okay, so first, thank you for joining us to talk tonight, afternoon. Basically, it's not new. The movement is
not new because we started this protest with the Netanyahu core problems a few years ago and then it came to the
Balfour event in which we protest over a year, every Saturday in Balfour, which was very difficult for all of us,
because it's basically full year, going back to Jerusalem every night and Saturday and trying to break the
government that he established with Gantz. It was Corona time, some of us rented houses around there, but just to
be able to continue the protest, while we had Corona here. And we succeeded.This year, we had, I think, about 20
organizations, one of which was my organization, Democratim. And we had to find a way to work together, which is
very, very difficult, because each and every organization has its own goals, dreams, aspirations, guidelines,
political views. We are different. Some of us are more radical, some of us are more lefties, some of us are more
about the occupation, some of us more in the center. So it was very difficult to find a baseline that will gather
us all together on one goal. And finally, we decided to go with "lech," which is "go away," basically. And we
decided that this is the goal, and we will not leave this place until we leave this house. We knew that it doesn't
matter how long it takes, we will stay there. And I think one of the things that happens in this year is that we
become a huge force working together, we learn how to work together, and how to become a force that in just, you
know, few clicks on WhatsApp, we can say to all of our people, "Go to this place, go to this place today." And
after the collapse of Netanyahu's government with Gantz, the new government came to life with Bennet and Lapid. And
we knew that it's not going to be stable for long, we knew it's just a matter of time that this government which
was very intragenic will collapse. And so we decided that we will keep all the systems that we build, all the
mechanisms working together and all the groups active. And it was like a dilemma because we felt like we will
already won. And we got what we wanted. But at the same time, we knew that it's only temporary and the real fight,
you know, the real collision will occur at some point in the future. So one of the groups who are still alive and
working and you know, like in quiet state and then when the new government came to be, you know, the new Netanyahu
government became what it is. We all just came together built back force. You know, "wake up, everybody come get
ready." The day that they swore that the government were already well, what ready to start because we knew that
this, you know, toxic cocktail of fascist religious people and corrupt people. It's going to blow. We knew that and
we knew that what they want to do to the justice system in Israel, it was just a matter of time. And we started to
work on building this bigger movement, you know. Because if Balfour was just about Bibi, now we fight about
something different. We made it like dictatorship against democracy. So if you support this government, you support
a dictator. And if you support us, you support democracy. And it was very effective because every Israeli actually
thinks of himself as Democrats. Because we were born Democrats. We don't know how not to be Democrats. This is a
democratic country. So everyone feels and believe that he is a Democrat. And we show them you know, the other side
that there are not really Democrats if they let one person control all three establishments. Yes, exactly.
Limor, just as a follow up real quick. Is there a leader to the movement or is there some kind of a
committee? I saw some people referring to something called “mateh hamavaak,” like the headquarters of the struggle.
How does it work?
Mateh Hamaavak is not a collaboration of all the organization. It's not a body of it, doesn't make any
decisions. We made the decisions like the organization made the decision decisions. He's just, you know, giving us
the back. If we need things or money, the connection between some organization and also new organizations,
that comes to the protest, Like, for example, doctors. They built a group of 2,000 doctors they want to join, they
don't know how to get to me or to someone else. So they connect to the mateh, to the headquarters, and they make
the connections and it's working fantastic. But still, we are the ones the organization, the organic organization
from Balfour and some of the new ones as well. We are the ones that making the decisions. Were the one that build
this strategy. We decide where to go, how to make the protest work, et cetera, et cetera.
Good, thanks. Neri and Offir before we get to you two quick comments. One is that I said that I was going to
give the two housekeeping comments and one of them I forgot, which is that our participants are welcome to ask
questions. And to do that, please use the Q&A tool, not the raise hand tool, but the Q&A tool. And then the
other comment is, you know, Limor, referred to the Balfour movement. The Balfour movement, it's called Balfour
because the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem is on Balfour Street. And so the movement, the protest movement
against the Prime Minister, got that kind of name named after the street. Neri and Offir you decide how you want to
answer this question. But I wanted to ask you both about why it is so important that Israeli expats around the
world are participating. And also if you can comment about what is new from your perspective in this movement this
Neri, go ahead.
Thank you. Well, I believe that in terms of how we're communicating with all the organizations, it's just the
same. You know, we have Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp and Zooms, and there is no meaning to a geographic
location anymore. And they can just like Limor was describing it, I can because I'm a doula I'm always on call. So
in the middle of the night, or daytime, I can see a popup on my Facebook Messenger of someone in Copenhagen, saying
we would like to organize the protest. And immediately we open to them a Facebook page and event and they're in and
we are inviting them to join the WhatsApp group. So in this term, were just, you know, doing the same thing we did
before. There is nothing new. Why is it important? You know what, I think that the protesters around the world
today are actually the face of beautiful Israel. I think that it's so important that the world will know that the
people of Israel are democratic by nature, and we'll do everything to protect the democracy. And right now we are
the disciples, you know, showing this is the beautiful Israel, these are the beautiful people of Israel, that will
not stop to do anything. You know, we're not stopping anything to protect our democracy. It's so important that the
world will know it nowadays.
Yeah, a couple of more things to me. Like I think one one other thing that is a little bit different. I want
to make two comments. One is, think about the mateh hamaavak, or the or the movement is something very similar to
what happening in the US called "Indivisible." Right, there is a lot of leftist, or people who care about different
types of missions. But when Trump was rising to power, they figured out they have to work together. Right. And they
again, it was a grassroots movement, starting from two people who just posted and manifest and help explain to
other people how to organize and how to go work. So again, mateh hamaavak is very similar and also in
retrospective, I think that UnXeptable started in a very similar way. The other comment is that I think this time
differently from other I mean, we definitely feel like there is a there is a good way or there is a good reason for
Jewish Americans to join and one of the things that we've done together with the help with new. First of all, we
had new core members, if you want to call them who joined who are kind of like coming from who was working more
closely with Jewish American organizations. And one of them helped us build a website, because not everyone is on
Facebook or WhatsApp, right? When you want to reach out to Jewish Americans, it's not obvious that everyone will
come. And the other thing is that we learned, and we learned and we operate it in, in a way that is kind of like a
call to action, and not just protests. And one of them is a letter that we published immediately after, after the
government, after we started to see the coalition agreement, and the intention of the of the new government. So I
think there is there is the new, the second, the current version of the of the organization is focused a lot about
action more than just protest, and figuring out how to move the needle and get the Jewish American team joining
Yeah, and I want to say that we also I think, are putting a lot of more focus on continuity, like sending out
a newsletter, with everything that happened, like yesterday was a very big day in Israel, it was very clear at
night that we have to sit down, write a newsletter describing what's going on immediately putting up all the
photos, and the videos of what happened in Israel yesterday. So the continuity and the persistence, so that, you
know, no one can just go on with their day as if nothing is happening.
Good I wanted to ask you a question that I was asked when Americans for Peace Now organized demonstrations
here in Washington, we did two of them, one in early January, and then earlier this month, in front of the Israeli
Embassy. And that was, what's the goal? What are you trying to achieve? Is it to just block the current legislation
initiative that has to do with legal reform, as they call it? Or is it something broader than that? If let's say
that Simcha Rothman and Yariv Levin decided tomorrow to, you know, shelve their initiative, would that bring an end
to the movement? Or does it have other other demands and other goals?
We probably have different answers. Right, because Limor is in Israel.
Yeah, maybe you start Limor. Yeah.
Okay. So even in Israel, that will be a thousand answers for these questions. And we cannot find one answer
that we can, you know, even most of us can agree upon. So all I can give is my personal view. And my personal view
is that the problem the core problem is Netanyahu. Okay, of course, it's a wider problem, we have the demographic
problem that is not going away. And we have to think how to work around this problem, and the Arab people of Israel
are not voting, and it's just getting worse and worse. So it's making the left even weaker. So this is a major
problem. But for now, the core problem is Netanyahu, because he's corrupted because he's in court and because he's
going to jail. If Israel will stay Democrat, is going to jail. And he knows this. And that's, this is why we're in
this, you know, like, tornado for over I think, three years now, or three and a half years, all because of him. It
makes this country all about him. When we have election after election, it's hell to live here, it's hell, I'm
trying to, you know, work on my research, just live my life peacefully. And for the last three years, I'm just in
the streets. I'm working full time job on the Twitter you know, to try to fight the news channels that becoming
more and more in his pocket, speaking his language and we tried to fight it with our own, you know, accounts in
Twitter and Facebook. So it's like you fighting with tanks when you only have like sticks and stones. This is how
we feel in Israel nowadays. It's very clear that we're going towards fascism, you know, all the signs are here. So
most of us, you know, the people in the struggle for years now are just fighting all the time and it's hell to live
here and it's difficult and so if you if you ask me, what's the core of it? What's the goal? The goal is to get rid
of him really seriously, just go leave us alone. So it's not about the reform because the reform if he fails to
bring the reform or if the court the High Court will, you know, a block him from a making this reform to get, you
know, become real, he will find another way to derail life. And also, they have more goals, not just the reform,
for example, they want to make the Arab Israelis to make them not legitimate, so they will not vote, so, when they
don't vote, it's like, the right will always win the election. So this is another goal, we have to fight. So there
is always something. So for me, I will not stop. It doesn't matter how many years it will take, yes, I will not
stop until this man is out of the equation. And we can establish from the beginning, you know, the left because the
left in Israel is not really functioning at the moment. And I can tell you that, personally, it's very difficult
days. It's like living when you don't, you don't have the safety of your house, you know, it's like the walls of
the house is about to collapse on you. And we can sleep at night. It's that bad. And my children, my eldest son and
second boy they study abroad. One is a doctor, a medical student and the other economics and I told them, "You
don't have don't come here until I tell you it's safe to come here." This bad. Seriously. It's and this is our
home, we don't have another home. So it's scary. And it's hard. And I'm trying to just make you feel just so you
understand how bad is it is here now.
Yeah, Neri and Offir, maybe you feel that you want to comment on the goals, the goals of the movement?
Yes. I don't know what's going to happen in the future. But I can tell you that as of now and of what
happened in 2020, our protests are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel. We are not having any
different agenda. We're not coming up with agenda. Like I think that everyone in our movement, expats, Israelis
were dismayed and alarmed when Netanyahu got elected again. But you didn't see us on the streets. We didn't
protest. What we're doing is only in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel right now. I don't know
what's going to happen in the future. It's a good question. Offir, do you have an idea?
I don't know. I mean, like, we never really thought about it. I mean, like, we definitely feel like it's a
good basis for organizing. I know, you can call it the liberal Israeli expats or whatever you want to call it. And
be a bridge to the Jewish American community. But again, I mean, like, it's not really it's really grassroots and
there is no funding, there is no structure. There's nothing else. Right. But I think that one of the things that we
are, I mean, we did and we will try and keep doing is, I would say importing or exporting. I mean, the campaign
system, the fundraising, elections, terminologies so developed in the US, obviously, because we have election here
every two years, and we are electing for it almost anything around us. And I mean, one of our goal is to kind of
like help in any way we can bring technology, bringing systems, right, to build and help building the alternatives
in the future. Not just in protest, but also in elections. Right. And we need some some of it going forward,
because what Limor said about again, I mean, like I'm just trying to translate it into local, as far as I
understand. It is like when you were saying that there are people in the government who are trying to do the
judicial reform, so they can exclude others from voting, right. It's called gerrymandering here, right? It's the
way of like, trying to figure out how the minority can keep running the country even though the majority is
actually thinking different. So again, we know from here that you can use democratic tools. Right? We still have
minority running the country. I mean, we saw it here with popular votes compared to electoral college or other
ways. So I mean, in our perspective, I mean, like it's, it's a way to bridge it's a way to support and yeah, that's
Limor, just a quick clarification question. You spoke earlier about the feeling of lack of personal safety
that you are afraid for your own. You said, you said something about the wall not being, you know, not being able
to protect you. And so what do you mean by that,
I can give you a few personal examples. First of all, all my assets are in Israel. And when you don't have a
strong court, you are not protected. So also your, you know, like assets are not protected, they can basically tell
you that now they have new tax, that you have to pay, or your if you have more than one apartment, which you rent,
now you have to pay a tax because you're basically a little bit richer, so you have to pay more money. Second,
we're talking about things like one of my son's is gay, I'm afraid, I'm afraid that if you know, they will start
to, they're starting to talk about gay rights and to suppress gay discourse in schools, which was very normal here.
You know, in every school, they talk about gay rights and how to be gay and how to accept gay people. And now
they're forbidding this discourse to even getting close to schools. So there is religious wave that wash the
country or and it's, it's bad, it's really bad. So I think liberals, when you're a true liberal, you know, and
someone's threaten your freedom. You become his enemy. True enemy. I mean, I will fight in every way I can, for my
freedom, and for my safety of my family, and my assets, and everything I work for, and this is something we all
feel that is under attack, everything that we believe is under attack. And also they are gaslighting, you know, the
gaslighting us. We are not Jews, for them, we are not Jews, we forgot how to be Jewish, because we are secular. So
if you're secular you are not Jewish, stuff like that, and they call us traitors, even though we are the ones that
are going to the army and serve the country, and they're not. It's crazy, it's like, we are the bad guys in the
picture. And I send my children to their army, you know, I serve in the army. I'm paying 1000s of dollars every
year for taxes here in Israel. Why am I the bad guy? You know, it's and it's just getting worse and worse and
worse. So now, and now, it's just got crazy because they have this coalition that gives them strength. So this
this, this is what I'm talking about. Nothing is safe now, nothing is safe.
I would like to give another example that I just used in the recent protest. In Israel in 1998, when I
founded the whole field of birth support, doulas were not allowed in hospitals. The medical system said no. And we
were thrown out of labor and delivery. And we fought it in court. So we're so sorry about this, where will we fight
it now? If there is no judicial system that protects us? Where am I going to fight for women's rights to give birth
with a doula by their side? Who is supporting them? This is so basic, so we don't have to talk about minorities,
like gays, you know, we have we can talk about the consensus of giving birth, you know, being supported, this is
something we had to fight in court, where are we going to fight for this now?
I want to add, about the safety I mean, like, I mean, Limor was saying it in a very emotional way. But I
mean, like physical safety, right, when you're coming I mean, like for years now, and probably as a peace movement,
you probably know what I mean like anyone who said anything different right than what what the government was run
by Bibi for the last 12 or 14 years I don't even know was defined as a traitor right as someone who goes outside
wash the laundry outside, et cetera, et cetera and the definition was getting further and further. So, you have
like people from the right consider people like Lieberman or Sa'ar or Bennett right or other religious people who
are now also defined as traitors so you know the the Niemöller poet right where it's like the keep coming and at
the end there is not going to be anyone for you.
Also it's become another word for left. I mean left and a traitor become the same everyone who doesn't agree
with the government becomes a smolanit, which is like saying bad person, traitor, not nice.
And by the way they try to use the smolanit also in the English way which is smol, right? Yes, it's smol in
Hebrew is left and they try to do it a smol light. Right. Anyway. But the point is that I mean that when you look
at the playbook of how fascism is how democracy turns to fascist countries, you just go through this. I mean, the
playbook in there pages one by one and and on top of that, I mean, like you also see how the heroes of those of
those of the government like is becoming Viktor Orban, right, which we all know what he did for Hungary, and
therefore later for Poland. So the point is that it's an end which, by the way, we've seen this rhetoric also
happening here when Trump was trying to get elected, and then when he was elected. So it's a playbook. And that's
why it's not safe. It's not safe. I mean, again, policy is about anymore policies about taxes. And yeah, I mean,
like, that's part of left and right, you can be pro tax or against tax to the rich people. But as long as you have
the core to protect from when it's reasonable. So let's say you don't just protect anyone who is right, high
income, not necessarily those who are from the left, or those who are rich, just from one side or because you have
red hair. So that's where the court is basically becoming the basis. And to this is why I think the focus is on the
court right now, the protests, the movement, the resistance is protecting the court, because if that court falls,
then basically everything collapse, and people will keep trying to grab more and more power. And I would add on
that. I mean, and this is again, connecting to the Jewish American in general, or Jewry of the word. I mean, the
State of Israel was defined as the house for the Jewish people, right? On top of I mean, and that's why it needs to
stay Jewish and democratic. Because again, I mean, like when we're talking about kera
ba’am. It's not just the people of Israel. Kera is like divisiveness.
A rift within the people.
A rift within the people. It's not just within Israel, it's a rift with the people around us. And the way
that people will be I mean, birthright. You know birthright is on the table right now. Right? It's actually in
discussion about how to change the law, that birthright and Law of Return? Law of Return is actually going on, it's
going to be on the table. So there is a lot of basic thing that we we fought for for many, many years. And you also
the audience of Jewish Americans, American Jews, that again, it's on the table, if court is going away.
I think that it brings us back to the first question that you asked us already about, how is this protest
different? Well, it's not about a policy. And it's not about cultural norms. It's actually about the relationships
between the government and the people. What we have right now is a disruption in those very delicate relationship
between government and the people of Israel. And so we first have to redefine this, and then we can take care of a
lot of other unresolved conflicts and situations that we have in Israel.
So I want to ask you I'm going to start taking questions from the Q&A people are posting quite a few
questions when people are, you know, encouraged to continue doing that. There is this approach, which I've heard
quite a lot in recent months, which says, basically, you are sore losers, okay. The majority has voted for a
coalition of conservative nationalists and conservative Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox parties. These parties reflect
the new face of Israeli society. This is the new Israel and it was and its representatives in the Knesset were
elected legitimately. So learn to live with it. What do you say to that?
I can, I can take that first. I mean, if you if it's okay. I mean, like the I think that it's going back to
the basis of understanding what democracy is. The rule of law is part I mean, like the separation of branches the
idea that the majority, I mean that there is basis for human rights. There is other stuff that is part of
democracy. So, I mean, I'm the first to say that I mean, like, there is a full right, ultra right, whatever you
want to call it that wants to take and check their policies. Yes, we can, me and Neri, probably are not going to
protest in solidarity on changing the policy of tax in Israel, because the right wants to actually increase tax or
reduce tax. Right. I mean, but we are talking about the basis of, the idea that you cannot, if those laws are pass,
it's going to be similar to what happened in Hungary, Poland, and going back to 1933, democracies will collapse,
which means the next election might not be as free as you think of, again, we have election in Russia, we have
election in many Turkey, Iran, right. This is not going to happen in Israel, that we are going to be only an
election country. Right. So it's, it's the majority won, right, and the majority could try and implement their
policy, but not turning back on the courts and not doing it. And if and when they're doing it, they have to do it
with, not with the prime minister who is indicted with three crimes. Maybe you can do I mean, there is a discussion
about reforms, okay. But not right now, when this person is in power, and he keeps inciting I think inciting
against the court system every day, right.
Offir is very gentle. I'm going to say it in a different way. I'm just gonna say that I think that the
results in the elections, you know, and the fact that the majority voted for the government of Benyamin Netanyahu.
And now, that doesn't mean that the face of the country or that Israel has changed, that was the democratic
elections. And we respect it. But to say that the judicial reforms are representing the way in which Israel was
changed throughout the years, that's a lie. This is only representing the fact that we have indicted Prime Minister
and some members of the government that are trying to escape jail, period. That's it, these reforms are about
nothing else, they are not representing the change of Israel. And the beautiful people of Israel are democratic,
and and will not agree to that.
I want to add to what both of you said, which is, of course, true, that when we on the last election, we had
so many, it's confusing, you know, but in the last election, whenever we asked, you know, when you watch TV, all
the ministers and cabinet and parliament members of Likud. And, you know, they were asked about what are you going
to do with the judicial system. And all the time, they said, we just want to make it better, we're not it's not
going to be dramatic, it's not going to be fast. And some of them even just say, we were not going to talk about
the this is not the main issue, the main issue is keeping the, you know, security in the Negev, and stuff like
that, like that. I mean, they just ignore this issue altogether in the campaign. So it's like to claim now that the
Israeli voter was pro this reform, because nobody knew that there will be this kind of reform, nobody knew they
hide it, you know, they truly hide it. And this is one thing. Second thing is nobody denies that they won. I mean,
we don't claim that they are not allowed to rule. We claim they're not allowed to change the rules in the middle of
the game. Because what they're trying to do here with this reform, which we called
haficha, you know, like coup.
Yeah, exactly. This is what it is. So it's not ruling, nobody say don't, you know, rule and do your own
policies and stuff. We just say Don't touch the courts don't touch the court. This is ours. You know, everybody's
not just you. And something else that they're trying to say all the time. And it's crazy, like Netanyahu is sitting
in the parliament and saying that democracy is the power of the majority, which is a lie. Democracy is the power of
the people. All the people, including the minorities. It's true, the majority vote decides who will rule but the
one that rules It needs to be the government of everybody. And this government is acting like they're the
government only of the majority. We are not existing. Everybody did not vote or support this government is
unimportant. It's crazy, really.
It's interesting. I mean, I heard Rabbi Amichai Lau last week on these, he was
speaking at the solidarity protests in New York. And I wasn't actually thinking about it. But he said, like the
Hebrew word for democratiya is shalom from the word shalem. Right. And it's like you need to, you need to actually
include everyone. Democracy, it's not just the rule of the majority. It has to be.
It's not it's actually a Greek word that says the people power, not the majority power, this is the literal
meaning of the word in Greek.
I don't understand why we're even going to the definition, there are democracies on Earth, and they have very
clear system structures, there is a separation of power, we don't need to even go to the very beginning of the
definition of democracy is, it's about what democracy looks like, and how it behaves, and how it moves.
I'm just referring to this issue, because he's trying to change the concept about trivial things with
language. And when he's sitting in TV and saying that democracy is the power of the majority, he's lying, and the
people that vote for him, believes him, and then you're going to the street. And they feel like you know that
they're kings of the worlds because they have the power only them, and I have to serve them, I have to pay my taxes
to support them, I have to send my children to the army to support them. But they are the kings. I mean, its go
down when he speaks like this. It's a poisoned machine all the time with fighting against the poison machine. It's
As you can imagine, given the nature of our organization, and the nature of the people who are participating
in this webinar. There are a lot of questions that have to do with the Palestinian issue, and so on. So I'm going
to choose two themes that reflect again, many questions that have been asked. One is, in what way is the is the
Arab minority in Israel, the Arab sector participating in this movement? Is there an attempt to include the Arab
citizens? That's one and then the other has to do with whether the messaging of the movement includes reference to
Palestinian rights, to Israeli-Palestinian peace? Is that a part of the messaging? And maybe I'll add one more
question to that is, do you think that the energy that has been created, incredible energy unprecedented, by this
movement would be harnessed in the future in some way to the peace agenda? So several questions there.
Okay, I'll start with the second question about the themes of the kibush is in this movement.
As of course, because all the movements that involve with the occupation or works against the occupation are
part of the movement they have place in the movement nobody think of them as something that is outside of the you
know, of the norm. There was a problem with the flags, Palestinian flags in the beginning, when some of the more
radical protest came with the Palestinians. And of course, this is a trigger in Israel because it was the Ashaf
(PLO) flag before it became, you know, Palestinian flag, the official flag. So for many people, it reminds that
terror of Ashaf, and it's problematic way to try to make people you know, be open to listen. So we asked the
organization to take down a little bit just, of course, bring all these messages about the occupation, because it's
relevant. Of course, it's part of being a democracy. It's about you know, trying to include all minorities and fix
the problem of the occupation, which bothers all of us, the liberal side, in Israel and all the left in Israel. So
of course, it's part of it, and we try to give it as much place as possible. But naturally, because we are we feel
that our house and our children now are at risk. So we are more focused on what the sentiment now is about us and
about our future and about the future of Israel as a country. So it's not a dominant voice. It's there, but it's
not dominant. And the second, the first question that you ask is about the Arabs, if they did, the participation of
the Arabs. So, unfortunately, we tried, we tried, but that it's they have different view about democracy, they are
more conservative you know, community, and they don't have mentality of protesting as a whole. So it's very
difficult to bring them and also, I don't blame them because they feel like so are outsiders of the Israel society.
So I don't accept them to suddenly become part of us. We never made them feel like they're part of us why to start
now. And I'm scared because it's just going to be even worse, if they will not come to vote at all. Because they
don't feel like they're a part of the democratic game in Israel. And that is very unfortunate.
So I'm not there on the field. But I mean, like, there are, there are parts of again, that are including
like, Omdim Beyachad, Standing Together. And so they do their protest in different
places, not necessarily in the same place. Like, like, the main Kaplan, or whatever it is, but it's hard. I mean,
like the idea but I think that the con, I think that one of the things that we are the protest is doing is fighting
for equality, and it's equality for all. Right, it's not equality only for one part of minorities. Right. And and
in general, that's, that's, that's the way I think that the, the movement is including the Israeli Arabs. I can
tell you that even here, I mean, like we we in Palo Alto, we there's a we have a group. That is we're trying to
work together with other Israeli Arabs who lives here, postdocs and others. And even for us here, it was hard to
bring them right into our rallies. Because again, we we are trying the best we can to include, but I can say
personally, that it took me years to figure out the time that was so segregated from Israeli Arabs in growing in
Israel. Right. I mean, that it's all it's really, really hard. And at the end, I mean, like, I mean, I will just
add about two topics about the occupation and about, I mean, if you anyone who wants to be pro peace, is also needs
to also be praised for pro-Jewish and democratic state. Right. And in order for that to exist, we fight we need to
fight now for democracy when the house is burning. You're not trying to remodel the house, you're trying to first
turn the fire down. And that's that's the focus. And and just to be clear, I mean, there is the I mean, people who
are pro-peace are definitely among the different areas of Israel from left to right, they have different opinions
of how to make this.
I'm going to refer to the third question that already asked if we see the energy, that is right now in
One more one more sentence. Sorry. Yes. And, and so the inclusion of everyone in Israel who are
pro-democracy, I think it should reflect also back to the Jewish American society. I mean, team, like we always
keep saying that this is an internal policy and Jewish Americans, we don't want to be part of it, because it
didn't. This is not about internal policies. This is about the basic values, right? I mean, and whoever whoever is
a pro-Israel means I assume it means that there are their pro-Jewish and democratic state, and therefore it's our
employees are the needs to raise their voice because it's about values. And now let Neri talk about energy.
Sorry for interrupting you in the middle. I was just a wanting to say something about the third question that
you asked if we're going to see this energy translating into a big protest to end the occupation. I'm very
pessimistic about it. I don't see it happening. I don't see the people of Israel protesting against the occupation.
I can say that even among those who are protesting right now worldwide If I, for example, am a strong believer and
fighter for ending the occupation, I'm being shushed a lot of times because the majority is not going to fight
about this. And I understand that we are in a very, very critical place right now, in our history that we first
like Offir said, I agree with you, Offir, with every word, we first need to the house is burning, the house is on
fire, we first really have to rescue ourselves from what is going on in terms of the division of power and
democracy. But unfortunately, I'm very pessimistic about seeing this energy also translating into protests to end
the occupation. Yeah.
We have what a little more than five minutes left about seven. So I'll try to to fit, you know, a couple of
important questions that I think we have. One is, again, coming from the Q&A. Whether you see it's it's a young
movement obviously just started. Do you see any impact yet? I mean, is it is does it register with the government
and with the public? Well, with the public, of course, it was a good public, that's no, but to the government? Do
you want to start Limor?
First of all, it's not very new. As I said, it's just like a continuous of something that started few years
ago, just getting going getting bigger and bigger and bigger, because the problem is getting bigger and bigger. So
it's not new. And of course, it has impact, I think that you saw Herzog coming in suggesting to start negotiation,
it's because they figure out they cannot do it before the collapse of Israel, economics. And there is a talking
about, you know, not going to the army, many people said, we're not coming to the to the army of the state, and
doctors on a start to strike and every you know, because the in Israel, the left is the strong group, it's the most
educated, the richest. The country is upon our shoulders. So in the country cannot function if the left is on
strike. And they they saw it, you know, just a few weeks, we everything is crazy here, the country is not
functioning. So I think, of course, it has impact. And that's why we have to get, you know, make it stronger and
bigger. And we're not going to stop fighting, because as I said before, for a liberal, if you threaten his freedom,
he will not cease to fight. So that this is why I'm very optimistic about the fact that the movement will continue
and get stronger and stronger, because they are not going to, you know, stop trying.
And I don't know again, I mean, that's, I see what I see from the outside. But I mean, like, to me the idea
that there is such a big, I mean, the resistance movement is not stopping. And it's not actually asking for it's
not asking for a compromise with the current people in power, because the current people in power cannot actually
take action. Therefore, it's keep pushing. Right. I mean, and I mean, the idea that more and more people are
joining, I mean, you know that there is a rule of the 3.5% that they're saying when 3.5% consistently going out on
the streets. This is this is kind of like a scientific number, right? That shows that actually make it to make an
impact. And we saw it first time. Yesterday in Jerusalem, when probably over 300,000 people came out. And again,
think about the 300,000 people of, it's it's huge in in the in the size of 10 million in the country. If you take
out kids and other minorities, it's a huge number. So the pressure is there. And it will end up really about the
people mean like if the people will resist it, it will stop. There is no other way.
But it will take time.
It will take time. It will take time and a lot of resources.
Yes, time and resources.
This is a resources game. And we need to we need to remember that whoever is running the show behind the
scene right now in Israel is billionaires that is supporting Kohelet. And people I think I think the names are
already in the in the press. It's Jeffrey Yass and Arthur Dantchik. And it's and before that there was people who
like Sheldon Adelson, who built Israel Hayom right and there is a lot of money coming into this game from the right
side, and the resources from the left was mostly going to peace, occupation, it wasn't actually to go and build the
infrastructure. I mean, there is a lot of help with NIF and other organization, but it was not going into the
political game, it was going to the, to the civil society support, I think it's right, it's the right word. So
it's, it's a long game. And it's, it will take a lot of resources.
But I think that we already see a bigger impact. I think that the last time in 2020, what we saw is mostly
protests. Right now, the calls are to bring the country to a halt, to stop collaborating, because it's not only
about going to the streets and protesting, it's actually about not collaborating. If as long as you let the country
move forward, as if nothing happened, you know, people are paying taxes, people are going to work, people are going
to the army, if every system and structure and institute will just keep collaborating, then you can protest, but
everything will remain the same. But right now, what we see is the growing impact of people who understand the need
to bring the country to a hault to stop, not to collaborate. And that's the action that actually is going to, I
believe, turn things over.
Just to say that yesterday we had 22% of the country on a strike. It's like a personal stripe, people just
you know, took a day off with not getting paid or switch day, you know, of holiday for this day, just to strike.
And kids were not at schools, you know, half of the kids went to school. So this is this is very, it's energetic.
Yes. Before it's never before seen it in Israel, you know, these kind of measures.
And by the way, if there is any way, I mean, I mean, if I mean, there is a lot of resources on the website of
UnXeptable.org. If you want to support and help, it's there.
Okay, so UnXeptable.org, and you are actually leaving me, Offir, to the question that I wanted to ask we have
maybe a minute left. What can American Jews or Americans in general who care about Israel, and want to help? What
can they do? Obviously, donating is great, but it's not just donations.
It's not just donation, it's first of all, it's about joining. It's about I mean, again, the cycle of news is
very slow from Israel, to The Washington Post on The New York Times, and so on, so on, it's might be a two days
delay. So join us on unxeptable.org on the Facebook page or Twitter on our website, we will try to move the news
faster. That's one and then you can take the news to your congregation, to your communities. Right, spread the
word, because again, it's it's a matter of shared values, not shared interest right now. Right. And it's, that's
where it is, I mean, like, and it's matters to the jury of the world. So just mostly be aware. I mean, think about
it as a pro-Israeli activity, not an internal politics. Right. And spread the word mean, that's where you can
mostly help. Again, I mean, you can talk to your congressman, you can talk to other people, but spread the word.
And when you're I mean, I saw yesterday, I was driving and I saw houses that has the Ukraine flag here, right being
raised. So I know if you want to raise the Israeli flag, but there is awareness, right about awareness. It's about
the idea that it's it's not obvious for most people that democracy is in state is actually in, in danger in Israel.
It just it just really hard to understand that when you think when everything you know about Israel is it's a
That also specifically, you know, where Israeli expats were immigrants here, we have less connections, you
know, with, for example, media. American Jewry has many more connections with media, they can bring the media to
the local rally, you know, like they can do so many things that we're out of resources to do.
So just yeah, just just join us. I mean, yeah, sorry. Go ahead.
Limor, you get the last word. Yeah, the last one.
So first of all, and we have a user on the on Twitter that we started, which is my my organization called
Democratim. We don't do things that needs money we so it's not about money. We just want to share with you what's
happening on daily basis. So this user is English user, and everything that happens every hour in Israel every few
hours in Israel. We just you know, it's like a news push on this user. So if you want, maybe Neri can, you know,
give you the link later. So you can follow us and get the latest on the protest and what's happening in Israel. And
second, if you have any way, and we need pressure from from, basically from every country possible, on on the
government, all kinds of pressure. This is very important because you need to break this from all directions. So if
you can talk like, with people in the government in your country, you're American, only American, so, so your
politicians help on this side of things, it will be great.
I don't know that we said that the more we'll have the last word that I just said, like it's actually this,
this will be broadcast globally, probably on podcast and others. So there is there is there is a sister
organization called Defending Israeli Democracy (DID) their work, we're working together with them. They're mostly
around Europe. Right. And we have also extension in Sydney in Australia. So again, you can you can help wherever
you are. There is a lot of places to go to rallies and just follow us on the events or the other website and be
with us. I mean, like that's, it's about joining efforts.
Great I want to thank you, all three of you very much. I know how busy you are. I've you know, I've had
conversations with the particularly with Offir. And with Offir's partners here in the DC area. And I just I know
how incredibly time consuming this is. So wanted to thank you for taking the time to spend with us and talk about
this. I wish you success. And we as APN will continue being involved in the movement. And if people want to get in
touch with us, you can my contact information is on our website, you can go to peacenow.org and I will put you in
touch with whoever you want to be in touch with. So again, Neri, Limor, Offir, thank you all for you for joining
us. Thank you very much. And this concludes our webinar.