Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets on Saturday. The majority congregated outside the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem. Other groups gathered on highway overpasses, bridges, outside Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea and near the Tel Aviv beach.The protesters came pushing a variety of issues. Some want Benjamin Netanyahu out of office due to his alleged corruption. Others are upset at the way he has managed the coronavirus crisis and many – especially the youth – are angry that, for now, it seems that their future has been lost. There are three ways to respond to the situation that Netanyahu finds himself facing when thousands of people protest almost daily outside his home. One way is to ignore the protests and pretend that they don’t bother him. He could rise above the demonstrations and make a point of showing the people that he is doing business as usual and what he often declares he spends his time doing: working on behalf of the people of Israel 24/7.Ignoring the protests was never an option for Netanyahu. First, because he will never let a good crisis go to waste and from the day the protests gained steam, he used them to sling mud at his political adversaries from Benny Gantz to Ehud Barak and Naftali Bennett.The other reason he cannot ignore them is because they genuinely bother him. They undermine his family’s quality of life as well as harm him politically. In the last month, for example, Likud under his leadership has dropped 10 seats in the polls. If that isn’t political damage, what is?The protests bother him so much that at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting Netanyahu dedicated a five minute speech to slam the protesters, the media for covering the protests the way they do and his political rivals.Responding to Benny Gantz’s comment that the “protests are the lifeblood of a democracy”, Netanyahu said: “I did not plan to speak about the protests, but since you mentioned them, I will make some remarks.”Sounds spontaneous, right? Nothing planned. Well, not exactly. Netanyahu then put on his bifocals and proceeded to read a statement for about five minutes including quotes from former Supreme Court justices, journalists and more. Not exactly someone who didn’t plan on talking about something.Comparing the media in Israel to North Korea, Netanyahu lashed out against the protests which he said trampled democracy and were an “incubator for the coronavirus” (Data, by the way, from the Health Ministry does not support that claim but that is beside the point).“The protests are being fueled especially by the media who have enlisted in a manner the likes of which I cannot remember,” Netanyahu said. “I reject the one-sided attitude of the majority of the media. They are not reporting on the protests but participating in them, and fueling them. This is not just media which has got on board [with the protests] but is enlisting people to the protests.“There has never been such a distorted mobilization [of the media]. I would have said Soviet [media mobilization], but it’s already North Korean,” concluded Netanyahu.This brings me to the third option Netanyahu could have seized on but decided not to.Instead of attacking the protesters, the media and anyone else in his way, he could have expressed sympathy, solidarity and empathy. Are there people who come to these protests to advance political agendas? Of course. What protests don’t have that?But there are also people there who are hurting. They are crumbling under the pain that the virus has caused the economy, their families, their businesses and their communities. These people, or any of the other protesters there exercising their democratic right, don’t deserve to be called “coronavirus incubators” by their leader.They should be spoken to with the empathy we should expect from our elected officials, a type of compassion that will make us want to come together to overcome this unprecedented crisis.For that to happen though, we would need leadership that wants to unite and heal. As illustrated by his remarks at Sunday’s cabinet meeting that is not what Netanyahu wants. He wants to continue to drive a wedge within Israeli society. He wants to divide.