Why I Attended Last Night’s Rally

My first instinct was to go. After reading the Winograd Report, and hearing about the plan for a protest rally in Tel Aviv, I thought it was important to go, to put pressure on Olmert to resign. Then I thought that it’s useless. I mean, the guy must know what the public thinks of him, and so who cares if there’s a rally telling him what everyone already knows – that people want him out. Furthermore, I’m in my 30s. I went to rallies as a teenager in Yeshiva; the last rally I was at in Israel was ten years ago. Aren’t I a bit old for this?

In the end, I decided to go. I feel very strongly that Olmert must step down one way or another; no CEO of any company would ever be allowed to screw up that royally and continue in office. The line of “give me a chance to fix my mistakes” is painfully stupid. “You break it, you pay for it” is a much better slogan. Furthermore, as far as the residents of the north and the families of soldiers who died in the Second Lebanon War are concerned, it is too late to fix things.

As Ari Harow, Executive Director of Likud Anglo Division put it to me at the rally, “This is not about the last war; it’s about the next one”. Do we really believe that Olmert can restore the IDF to what it was? Do we think that our neighbors will be afraid to start up with him like they were afraid to start up with Begin, Shamir, Bibi, Rabin, Barak, or Sharon? Even Peres knew when and how to flex muscles. Olmert and Peretz? Please.

The Prime Minister of Israel is an elected position. He rules by public mandate. If he can screw up that bad, and still remain in power, what does that means for Israeli democracy? Is he not accountable for the deaths of hundreds and displacement of hundreds of thousands? Can you run a war by the seat of your pants and then not have to pay for your mistakes, with yor job at the very least?

So I went to the rally because I thought it’s important for there to be a strong, diverse (young and old, left and right, religious and secular), and large attendance. If I didn’t go, then I couldn’t complain that there weren’t enough people there to make a difference. At first I was nervous – the bus was mostly empty, and when it started to fill up, it was with Bnei Akiva kids. Am I going to a rally with a bunch of right-wing kids? But when I got there, the picture was completely different. There were young and old, religious and secular, right-wing and left-wing. I even saw some Druze there. The message and tone of the rally were surprisingly apolitical. The speakers were bereft parents and reservists, musicians and poets. The message was “Olmert, resign”. You had your chance; you messed up, now step down. It’s the responsible thing to do.

I know that I left there thinking that the people of this country – the whole people – really want to get rid of this guy. I know that 120,000 – 200,000 others feel that way, too. I think a message was sent loud and clear, if not to Olmert, then to those elected leaders who have the power and responsibility to remove him from his job.

A few other points:

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