1,500 Israeli grandmothers march for democracy on 'Day of Paralysis'

New ‘Grandmothers for Democracy’ group vows to prevent establishment of dictatorship, protect the country for their grandchildren’s generation.

Grandmothers for Democracy march in Tel Aviv on March 22, 2023. (photo credit: Stav Tsur)
Grandmothers for Democracy march in Tel Aviv on March 22, 2023.
(photo credit: Stav Tsur)

Hundreds of grandmothers massed on the streets of Tel Aviv on Wednesday to protest against the Israeli government’s planned judicial overhaul, marching down one of Tel Aviv’s busiest streets and chanting pro-democracy slogans.

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The newly-established group, "Grandmothers for Democracy," demonstrated to show their opposition to a slew of bills the government intends to pass that would radically change Israel's judicial system. According to protest organizers, some 1,500 people took part in the rally.

The grandmothers' testimonies

“We are Israelis,” Rosie, a grandmother of three, told The Media Line. “This is a state of all its inhabitants, including Muslims, Druze, Circassians, and Christians, of course.”

“Grandmothers play a big role in children’s education,” Chaya, a grandmother of five, told The Media Line. “The younger generation is working a lot. We have to pass on our determination to our grandkids that this is our country and our place is here.”

Others in the group said that they believe it is necessary to protest in order to safeguard the future of the younger generations.

“I have four granddaughters that live here and we need to plan a good future for them,” said Orit, one of the protesters. “This new [judicial] plan will destroy the foundation of Israel.”

Naomi, a grandmother of six, echoed the sentiment and added that she would refuse to send her grandchildren to serve in the IDF if the controversial legislation passes.

“This state is based on the fact that we all work very hard and we all get the public goods and a good economy,” she related. “But what’s happened now is that a certain group wants to milk the cow to death and squeeze the lemon till there’s nothing left and we won’t allow it. This state is here to stay.”

Beginning in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, the grandmas marched along one of the city's central streets all the way to Independence Hall, the site of the signing of Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948.

The idea for the protest came from Anne Berkeley, 70, a grandmother of seven who originally immigrated to Israel from Scotland in 1978.

“I’m very, very concerned for the future of my seven Israeli grandchildren,” Berkeley told The Media Line. “Not for me, for them.

“I think there comes a certain age where people begin to feel as if they don’t have a voice so it’s time that our voices were heard,” she added.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday announced changes that would soften part of the controversial judicial overhaul plan. Netanyahu said that he would postpone most of the bills aside from one linked to the selection of judges, which the government hopes to pass before April 2nd.

Leaders of the opposition rejected the “softened” version of the bill, calling it a hostile takeover of the judicial system and warning that it would bring the bill to the Supreme Court in order to appeal it. The move could set the stage for an unprecedented constitutional crisis.