Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 40: The Arab Spring Has Come To Israel

Last night I was apart of one of Israel's largest Hafgana's (demonstrations), and unless you were there you just can't imagine how it was. The entire city practically shut down. Cars were stalled in bumper to bumper traffic in the streets, no busses or cabs would stop because they were all filled to the brim with people, hundreds of thousands of young people, families with small children, adults, grandparents, teachers, workers, the religious, etc. took to the streets to reach the destination of the protest. I have never, in my life, seen anything like it. I was one of 400,000 people walking to demonstrate against the social crises Israel currently finds herself in. The Arab Spring did not only come to Arab countries; she has reach the Land of Israel herself. The pillar of democracy in the non-democratic middle east, the land of milk and honey, is now being protested against by her citizens because of a large need for social reform.

When Ariel (my friend from AEPi), Ben (Ariel's friend from home), and I met up with one another, we decided it would be best to try and catch a cab that would take us close enough to the protest, and then walk from there. This would normally have been a fantastic plan, however, no busses or cabs were stopping, and hundreds of other people were waiting for the same thing. Cars weren't moving... all you could hear was honking and sirens going off. When we finally got into a cab (after a good long time waiting for one), we took it as far as we could before we decided it would be faster to get out and walk. I don't know if it was an abnormally humid night in Tel Aviv, or if it was the fact that 400,000 people were walking and running through the streets, but the minute we stepped out of the cab we were dying of heat, sweating through our clothes, and trying desperately not to separate from one another. Lucky for me, both boys were over 6 feet tall so if I lost them I would merely have to look for the tallest people in the crowd!

When we finally got to the protest/rally it was jam packed with people of all ages, all holding signs (the best of which I saw was a sign saying "Cannabis solves everything"), passing out stickers, chanting, cheering, beating drums, and exercising their right to gather and be heard. Men and women were shouting into megaphones, bands were playing, people were organized to speak over a loud system wired throughout the whole square where the protest was taking place, and the best part was that I could understand probably 60% of what was being said. There was so much talk about "A New Israel" and "New Israelis", "Strong Israelis", who want to see Israel restored to a place where they can live happily, raise families, live comfortably, work hard and see the fruits of their work, and so on. Everyone was so passionate, and you felt like you were apart of something so much bigger than yourself. I am not an Israeli, but I am a resident of this amazing country (and will be for 2 years or more), and the social problems plaguing the citizens will also affect me in time.

As we were standing there, encompassed by hundreds and thousands of people, I felt like I was in the middle of a kind of revolution. You hear about what went on in Egypt, what is currently going on in Libya, and then you have a much less violent and quieter kind of "Spring" here in Israel, but it is none the less the same kind of idea; the citizens rallying together to try and bring necessary change to their country. It was overwhelming to be apart of this. When all of the speeches began sounding the same we decided it was time to head out. Ariel was starting his first day of Med school the next day, and I had Ulpan so it was time to start heading out. We walked around Tel Aviv for a while looking for a hookah bar, ended up at the Namal, walked around some more, and then decided to walk back to Ramat Aviv. I have never walked so much in my life! I have probably walked 30 miles in the last 2 days (and all in flip-flops...). When I got back home I quickly did my homework, showered, and got into bed. By 2am I was asleep which did not sit well this morning. I was not so awake, but it was worth it to be at the rally. Just another amazing day in the life of... Me :-)

Today I will be studying for a very big mivchan (test) tomorrow and getting ready for a presentation I have to make on Thursday. It is very funny what I will be presenting. Spoken entirely in Hebrew, I will have to talk about why I love Arabic!!!! Should be a great presentation :-) 

Stay tuned for more to come <3
Jordana Simone 

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