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The “pro-democracy” protesters should retain the ability to have a meaningful conversation

Even after the photos which showed the violence at the offices of the Kohelet Forum in Jerusalem, it is important to distinguish between those who made statements bordering on the criminal, perhaps downright criminal, and those who demonstrate legally and peacefully against the reform. There is nothing more encouraging in a democratic country than people getting together to promote things that are really important to them. On the other hand, it is very serious that the demonstrations against Kohelet were carried out when some of our staff members were in the offices, including the superintendent, a very elderly man as well as a researcher who was alarmed when early in the morning, the demonstrators called her to come out through the locked door. This is inappropriate. We are not elected officials. Do not protest against private individuals in their private space.

I went out on my own initiative to the people who were protesting legally outside. I talked to them. Those who wanted to listen did indeed listen, but by their side were people who were shouting harsh words. Such people can mostly be pitied: those who have substantive claims – use them. If shouting slogans is the best tool they have against the Kohelet Forum – either they are unable to understand the issues or they don’t want to learn, which is a shame.

The Jerusalem District Police acted quickly and professionally, and knew how to distinguish between those who were protesting lawfully and those who chose to take justice into their own hands. Later, those demonstrators still complain and present justifications for their actions, waving a sort of immunity card against law enforcement, but it should not be like this.

The demonstrators returned and hurled baseless accusations at us, as if we were “promoting the exclusion of women” or “a vision of a messianic dictatorship” and more. There is not a single person who knows me or the Kohelet Forum that thinks that these are the things we promote. Our flag is inscribed with support of individual freedom, not exclusion or dictatorship.

I say to the protesters: you don’t want to live in a country where policy is decided on the street, using sandbags and barbed wire. Those who demonstrate by blocking roads  and violating the law, in order to “promote democracy” end up hurting their own goal and the country as a whole. Democracy means that the Knesset is freely elected, and is free to govern lawfully. If you think that the enactment of basic laws by a large majority of Knesset members is something that is illegal, if you yourself take steps that are outside the limits of the law – do not expect the law to protect you.

We at the Kohelet Forum have promoted efforts to reach an agreement from the first moment. We believe that a policy that passes by consensus is simply more stable. Even if the coalition has the majority to approve anything it wants to pass, for tactical-practical reasons it is better to reach broad agreements, or at least some agreement, even with the opposition. On the other hand, we are not afraid of demonstrations in any way. We are open to any discourse. We do not think that all wisdom and reason is with us, but intimidation will not defeat us.

The article was first published in the N12

Author

  • עו"ד מאיר רובין (נריה)

    מנכ"ל פורום קהלת. בוגר משפטים וכלכלה ותואר שני במשפטים עם התמחות במשפט ציבורי ובינלאומי, כולם מהאוניברסיטה העברית בירושלים.

Meir Rubin – Neria
Meir Rubin – Neria

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