The community has come by its power honestly – and become powerful, well-connected and fashionable. Not the Arab community, though
Protest against the surrogacy law in Tel Aviv, July 19, 2018. Photo Ilan Assayag
Another fun day ahead: the LGBT strike. It’s been gathering steam like nothing since the cottage cheese protest in 2011, but this time, it has a logo. Not just one – it has a sea of logos. An abundance of Israeli brands have signed on to help.
The protest is being billed as something we’ve never seen before: dozens of leading companies letting their employees strike Sunday, with impressive social involvement and sensitivity. They issue explanations composed by their well-paid PR firms – not since the October Revolution have such things been heard.
Rosa Luxemburg for Cellcom, Lech Walesa for Isracard. Success is assured; just don’t let Gaza mess it up.
This is already suspicious: The supermarket chain Super-Sol and protest? The law firm Herzog, Fox & Neeman and protest? What exactly are these companies looking for in a strike? Justice? Equality?
That’s funny. Will they now let their employees strike for other reasons, each for his or her favorite cause? That’s even funnier. The LGBT community has managed to enlist the economy in its struggle; the power of its protest is admirable.
On the agenda are the priorities in Israeli society, its social and moral compass. Israel is striking Sunday not for an issue for which it’s urgent to strike. It’s not striking for a group that’s one of the most deprived, oppressed or discriminated against. In fact, few other groups are as powerful, well-connected and fashionable as the LGBT community. Its members have come by their power honestly thanks to their struggle, which of course hasn’t ended.
The relative success says nothing about the community’s right and obligation to continue fighting for its rights and the justness of its path. But the strike Sunday says everything about a society that once again chooses to flee to its comfort zone, where there’s no price to pay for the struggle. It’s only so people will feel good about themselves, embellish their image and mainly cleanse their conscience from the blackest of black marks for their other maladies and crimes.
Israel should be striking Sunday, supported by Super-Sol, McCann and Cellcom, against the nation-state law, in sympathy with the Arabs of this country, into whose faces the Knesset has spat, telling them officially and legally: You are second-class citizens.
What a healing and hopeful effect such a strike would have as a sign of identification with the Arab towns of Sakhnin and Nazareth. What brotherhood would be in the air, what fruit would be borne for all society from such a show of solidarity. But for this a measure of courage and a clear moral compass is needed – two products that the leading companies don’t have in stock and the entire society needs.
No one expects for Israel to come out anymore in mass protest against the occupation, the closure of Gaza or the settlements; it’s too brainwashed and anxiety-filled.
But the nation-state law, which was passed only hours after the surrogacy bill was in play, is critical. It’s much more discriminatory and excluding than the surrogacy legislation. It doesn’t make it hard to be a parent. It makes it hard to belong to this country. For some Israelis it shows the way out. It shows all Israelis that from now on they’re living in a de jure apartheid state, not just a de facto one.
And the trajectory is also different: The LGBT community is on its way to success: One more protest, one more vote, and surrogacy, a problematic way to parenthood, sometimes more despised than prostitution, will be approved for men as well. The legislation against the Arabs is going the other way: The nation-state law is just a promo. The slope is slippery and clear. Mass protest Sunday against this law could have marked a change.
But Israel will march Sunday in another one of its protests of the pampered. The streets will be festooned with colorful flags, the sense of satisfaction will grow. Only the “tskers” – as my Haaretz colleague Nitzan Horowitz calls them – will smile bitterly. We thank the community, we thank the banks and we thank the advertising and high-tech firms. We have a vibrant and protesting society. The truly oppressed can wait.