Huh? Conversation and Interaction: What’s Going on Here?

Residents of a normally tranquil cul-de-sac in the Gush Etzion town of Efrat were rudely awakened at 6:30am on Thursday by an anarchist protest unfolding outside the residence of Professor Moshe Koppel. Koppel is the founder of the Kohelet Policy Forum and one of the architects spearheading Israel’s much-needed judicial reform.

The morning prayers at the nearby synagogue merged with the cacophony of drums, horns, and megaphones, as the protesters sought to make their grievances known. However, even among the approximately 75 protesters, unanimity regarding the precise purpose of their demonstration was noticeably lacking.

While one irate neighbor, displeased by the unexpectedly early morning awakening, resorted to spraying the protesters with a garden hose (which the protesters promptly tied in a knot), the majority of Koppel’s neighbors came down to the street and opted for conversation and interaction with the demonstrators – Bnei Brak style, albeit without the Cholent.

Yishai Fleisher, the spokesperson for Hebron, and his wife Malkah engaged in discussions with many of the protesters with the goal to comprehend the source of their ire.

Some protesters expressed their anger with religious Jews, while others railed against Judea, Samaria, and the “Occupation”. One protester was busy claiming all Christians are actually Jews, but even the other protesters weren’t accepting that one. References to democracy were made, and some even claimed to be protesting against judicial reform.

By 8:00am, the majority of the protesters had dispersed, returning to their respective origins. However, a few stragglers chose to continue conversing with the amiable residents of Efrat.

One of Koppel’s neighbors, a lawyer trained in the United States, recounted attempting to engage the protesters in discussions on democracy and constitutional law. To his dismay, he discovered their limited understanding of these fundamental concepts, with some even unaware of the number of justices required in Israel to overturn a Knesset law.

If any conclusions can be drawn from this morning’s excitement in Efrat, it is that while using garden hoses may seem like a more satisfying solution at 6:30am, engaging in conversation and education holds a much better chance for a long-term victory against these protests and the professionals who are organizing them.

We would like to see all of this set a badly needed example and put into motion a path for healthy and productive dialogue – without anger, threats, and violence – not only on judicial reform, but on many other matters challenging Israel.

Early Morning Protest Held Outside Kohelet Founder’s Home in Efrat, by Jewish Press News Desk , June 1, 2023


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