It has already become routine – each weekend small bands of demonstrators
assemble outside Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s home, with megaphones, and hurl
high-decibel invective on behalf of assorted causes – from denouncing natural
gas exports to demanding child benefits.
These demonstrations are not
disconnected. Frequently the same populist or even anarchist ringleaders
orchestrate the loud happenings.
Sooner or later, these deteriorate into
public disturbances in quiet residential neighborhoods. It does not take
conspiracy theories to identify these weekly clashes as deliberate and
calculated provocations, quite distinct from the spontaneous grassroots outlets
for popular resentment that the organizers claim them to be.
these are hardly new on our scene. Though Lapid is the current favorite target,
this tactic preceded his entry into politics by decades. Political polarization
has often taken Israeli demonstrators beyond the public domain.
in-your-face style of dissidence has become increasingly common and more
radicalized through the years. It is not rare and rarely raises eyebrows.
Neither is it necessarily centered on political controversies. Soccer hooligans
serially home in on the residences of team owners, managers and
Clearly, few Israelis subscribe to the adage that a man’s home
is his castle, especially if the man in question is a prominent official or
public figure. His home in that case becomes fair game and harassing family
members a legitimate means of eliciting all manner of
Demonstrators in this country have never been partial to
Israeli conventional wisdom sanctions
demonstrations as disruptive and annoying as can be. There are hardly ever any
hesitations about closing major traffic arteries during rush hours, depriving
thousands of ordinary citizens of vital utilities or endangering the health and
livelihood of others. The more vociferous, belligerent and brazen the protest
the more effective it is judged to be.
Israeli demonstrators think
nothing of targeting the immediate family of whomever they rally against.
Spouses, children or elderly parents all evidently must pay the price. It is
assumed that having risen to prominence, anyone in the public eye forfeits his
and his family’s right to privacy and consideration.
Netanyahu’s first prime-ministerial term in 1996 his opponents made it a point
to gather outside his residence when his then-young sons were due home from
school and kindergarten. The children could not grant anyone’s wishes but the
logic was that causing them misery would discomfit their father, if not make him
When Silvan Shalom was finance minister in 2001 to 2003,
hostile protesters regularly besieged his Ramat Gan home and five
When the Oslo process began, outraged settlers congregated
outside then-Shas leader Arye Deri’s Jerusalem apartment house, chanting loudly.
Whenever his children appeared, they were accosted by catcalls about their
father’s treachery and hypocrisy. The youngsters eventually were afraid to leave
Similar demonstrations were held each Friday afternoon in front
of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s house. His wife, Leah, often referred to them
as the precursor to her husband’s 1995 assassination.
aide to prime minister Menachem Begin, recalled the particularly combative
demonstrators camped outside Begin’s residence during the 1980s Lebanon War day
after day, around the clock, in any weather, with no let-up. The chanting never
ceased. The bloodcurdling refrain branded Begin a murderer and likened him to
Aliza Begin was terminally ill with emphysema, but the
demonstrators could not be prevailed upon to consider her grave condition. They
woke her up in the middle of each night with shrill
Then-police minister Yosef Burg offered to disperse the
protesters, but Begin refused, arguing it was their right to voice displeasure,
though he could not understand why his wife and neighbors had to suffer on his
Perhaps it is time to finally go against our apparent grain and
keep volatile and inflammatory politics away from the homes and families of
The right to protest is sacrosanct in democracy, but for
this we have city squares and government buildings.
rail against whomever outside the office but not at home. The right to protest
is not the right to terrorize, intimidate and harass.