If you had turned on the 3:00 news on Reshet Bet, Israel’s top radio station, you would have never known that 30,000 cars had saturated the country’s capital with the Israeli Freedom Convoy, because not one word was mentioned about it.
If any other event would have made it impossible to enter or leave Jerusalem, it, undoubtedly, would have been the top story of the day. Yet, a massive number of Israelis who, after two years of lockdowns and mandate orders, reached their breaking point and organized a convoy, in the spirit of Canada’s truckers, apparently was not seen as newsworthy to certain media outlets.
Planned already for weeks, one of the largest demonstrations in recent memory, was launched today, February 14th, taking place not only in the capital, but throughout many cities in the country, with the largest contingency being in Jerusalem. As cars, strewn with Israeli flags and professionally printed signs and slogans began to gather in specified locations, an air of excitement and joy was immediately sensed as individuals felt unified and supported. And why wouldn’t there be a type of euphoric release after having endured the loss of freedoms which had been taken for granted just two short years ago?
But it wasn’t just the loss of freedoms like the ability to travel, vacation, spontaneously visit friends and family which led to all this. Those were annoying, an infringement upon our mobility and the cause of depression and a sense of helplessness, for sure. But somehow, we might have managed to overcome it all had it not been followed by the government separating us into two distinct groups, rewarding those who obeyed their commands. Once the green pass became your key to freedom and mobility, the deterioration of our once unified society began to pick up speed.
Israeli media made sure to breed suspicion of neighbors, friends and family who dared to question the wisdom and efficacy of a vaccine based on an experimental technology which lacked any findings on long-term effects and which, very early on, displayed adverse reactions which were carefully censored, hidden and even denied. Our leaders assured us that we were on the cutting edge – those who secured the advantage of making an early deal with Pfizer, granting us the favored position of getting a jump on all the rest of humanity. What a lucky break!
Most bought into the hype without hesitation, and it wasn’t long before the vast majority of Israeli adults fell into line, getting double vaccinated. For a while, the infection rate seemed to go down, causing the doubters to rethink their position. So even more complied, but within five to six months, the numbers began to climb, once again, and by summer 2021, our leaders, flanked by their medical experts (no shortage of those in Israel), assured us that all would be well once everyone would take the booster.
From there, things never seemed to recover (pun intended), because a booster, just a few months after two shots, began to concern many that something was not working as it had been anticipated. Hence, a steady dropout rate began to occur as some Israelis became skeptical of taking yet another shot. Seeing this trend, the green pass was born, granting full access to those willing to continue the regimen while denying access of most venues to those who refused to comply. Two vaccines were no longer sufficient to be considered fully vaccinated. Without the booster, you lost your privileges! But as the third jab began to wane in an even shorter amount of time, jobs began to be threatened in the absence of being “fully” vaxxed, with the untenable alternative of needing to be tested every couple of days.
Fast forward to today. Although it’s already been a couple of weeks since it was announced that the green pass would no longer be demanded, many of us got wind of a new piece of legislation, in Hebrew called the “Authority Bill” trying to be passed into law. This bill, if passed, would allow the government to impose coronavirus-related restrictions under a determined state of emergency or special health situation. However, no one can predict what would constitute such a classification, who might gain from the placing of new restrictions and how long such a period would last – all, once again, arbitrarily removing civil rights and freedoms from citizens.
Consequently, this was a great part of why the Israeli Freedom Convoy was launched at a time when most freedoms have already been restored in the Jewish homeland. Organizers of this event entitled their objective as “Taking Back the Wheel.” So as they manned 40 bridges and intersections en route to the capital, their goals for this massive turnout were as follows:
The exercise of each person’s basic human right to lead their lives as they wish;
An immediate annulment of Israel’s state of emergency and of the recent “Enabling Act,” which eradicates the Knesset’s power and transfers it to the government, enabling the passage of immediate and harmful emergency laws that are undemocratic and compromise the basic rights of Israel’s citizens;
A total termination of all Corona restrictions and the return to normal life;
Return to a normal routine for all Israel’s children without any further school closures, quarantine periods, medical procedures on school grounds or mandatory mask wearing;
Complete opening of the economy and a ban of the harassment of employees on medical grounds;
Full disclosure of contracts and protocols which, to date, have been withheld from public review and consumption;
Ending the violation of the individual’s privacy through street cameras or other illegal surveillance;
Reaffirmation that all human beings are equal and all human beings have constitutional rights. Each individual’s dignity and human rights should be respected unconditionally by the government regardless of vaccination status.
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The present success of Canada’s Trucker movement, which now encompasses farmers, cowboys and other segments of the Canadian population, has every chance of succeeding in reaching their goals, mostly because they are committed to a long-term strategy of unending protest which will bring the country to its knees if not resolved. The question for Israelis is how long are they willing to commit to the realization of their own stated demands?
While today’s launch can be seen as a great start into taking back our freedoms, if not continued on a consistent and unrelenting level, it could end up being a one-off demonstration which sent a message but was returned “undelivered.” And undelivered it was! It wasn’t even aired on any of the three evening news channels. Freedom usually comes at a high price, and so only time will tell if today’s efforts will gain traction and really begin the process of “Taking Back the Wheel.” Because if it’s up to our media, no one will hear that the Freedom Convoy ever got launched in the land of Israel!
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