Forward Thinking

David Grossman on the Tent Protests: 'Window to a Different Future'

By J.J. Goldberg

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Israeli novelist David Grossman participated last week in the large demonstration in Tel Aviv that was a high point in the ongoing economic protests, and wrote a powerful, poignant and much-discussed account of the emotions it generated. It appeared August 5 on the front page of the Yediot Ahronot Friday supplement (here is the Hebrew original). A blogger known as blogzahav has posted his own earnest English rendition. What’s most powerful is the tumbling flow of emotions - confusion, joy, regret, hope - at finding himself believing again in the possibility of social solidarity and a vision, however blurry, of a better future.

… I felt that we, the marchers, looking at ourselves with amazement and a little doubt, didn’t completely believe ourselves what was coming from inside us: whether we are really “the masses,” the angry masses, a wave of fists, like we see at similar demonstrations in Tunis, and in Egypt, in Syria and in Greece? Whether we want to be the masses like this? Whether we are seriously ready for what we are shouting for in rhythm here: “Rev-o-lu-tion!”And what will happen if we succeed “too much,” and this fragile state cracks. And what if the protests and the passion turn to anarchy?

But after a few steps, something happens, the blood moves. The rhythm, the momentum, the togetherness. Not a threatening faceless togetherness. But rather a togetherness that is not uniform, but mosaic, chaotic, familial with a strong sense of - here, we are doing the right thing, finally we are doing the right thing.

And then also rises the amazement- where were we until today? How did we allow this to happen? How have we put up with governments that we have chosen turning our health and our children’s education into luxuries? How did we not shout when the Treasury officials crushed the social workers, and before them - the disabled, the Holocaust survivors, the old, and the pensioners? How for years have we pushed the hungry and the poor into soup kitchens and charities and to lives of humiliation for generations. …


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