The Israeli shopping center chain BIG has announced its intention to join the looming nationwide protest this Tuesday if the Knesset votes to pass a highly-criticized bill associated with the government’s judicial reform plans during its first reading on Monday.
“In order to protest unusually and prevent the passing of the legislation, we will participate in the shutdown day planned for Tuesday,” the BIG Group announced.
The bill is an amendment that would block Israel’s courts from applying what is known as the “Reasonableness Standard” to decisions made by elected officials, which enables judicial review against government decisions that are deemed beyond the scope of what a responsible and reasonable authority would undertake.
While hundreds of hi-tech companies have consistently participated in the protest efforts against the judicial reform, BIG’s decision to protest is something of a standout occurrence, as retail chains and other non-tech businesses have typically kept themselves detached from the situation.
It remains to be seen whether other sizable stores intend to join the fray – and it is uncertain whether their action would work to turn the tide against the reform, though it would certainly act to further spread awareness of the protest’s cause.
Labor Party head Merav Michaeli tweeted to support BIG’s decision, expressing “Great respect to the owners of the BIG chain who are joining the most important struggle in the country’s history – the fight for its democracy.”
She added that “The private sector also understands that this government is acting in an extremely unreasonable manner and if we do not stop the deterioration right now, we will very quickly find the State of Israel under a dictatorship.”
A counter-protest boycott of BIG shopping centers has been launched by some of those in favor of the bill, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
“I am also boycotting the BIG Group until they retract and apologize. Business owners who interfere politically and boycott half the people deserve condemnation from all shades of the political spectrum,” he said.
The 27th consecutive weekly protest against the judicial reform took place on Saturday night, with thousands of Israeli residents emerging in order to show their opposition to the legal reform promoted by the government, which aims to undermine the legal authority of Israel’s High Court, thereby concentrating the power of Israel’s Knesset members.
Tuesday's upcoming protest
Protest leaders have called for a protest of “unprecedented” levels to take place on Tuesday, should the legislation pass its first reading vote on Monday night. “On Tuesday there will be a protest the likes of which have not been seen all over Israel,” they stated.