This six-week course will explore the major protest movements that shaped the religious, social and political identity of the State.
Through hearing the stories of the protest leaders and the many who followed, students will gain an insight into the deepest frustrations, hopes and dreams of the people who call Israel home.
Ittay Flescher has been working in formal and informal Jewish education for the past 15 years. From Australia he made Aliyah in 2018 and alongside teaching has been the Jerusalem Correspondent for Plus61J Media. As an insightful educator with a strong sense of justice, Ittay hopes this course will comfort the troubled and trouble the comfortable.
Topics By Week■
Week 1: The legacy of the Shoah
How will the survivors who made Israel their home after the war leave their mark on society? This question was first raised by a significant protest movement in 1952 when Menachem Begin led the campaign against the “blood money” reparations from Germany. The more recent and smaller campaigns against deportation of asylum seekers and the appointment of Effi Eitam as chair of Yad Vashem have again put the question of what the term “never again” means on the agenda.
Week 2: Economic and Ethnic Inequality
From the Bread-Work and Wadi Salib protests in the 1950s to the Black Panther protests of the 1970s, the enormous Social Justice protests of 2011 that began on Rothschild Boulevard, the cost of living has always been a source of protest no matter the party in power. In this class you will hear the extraordinary stories of what motivated Charlie Bitton, Vicky Knafo, Daphni Leef and others to inititate movements struggling for justice in Israel.
Week 3: War and Peace
Following the immense loss of life as a result of the Yom Kippur War, IDF Reserve Captain Motti Ashkenazi began a one-man protest that eventually led to the resignation of Prime Minister Golda Meir's government and ultimately the fall from power of the Labor Party. It also gave birth to two protest movements on either end of the Israeli political spectrum. These were: Gush Emunim who led the movement that established the first West Bank Settlement in Sebastia, 1975 and resisted the disengagement from Gush Katif in 2005; and Shalom Achshav, that was formed to lobby for the Peace agreement with Egypt, and drew enormous crowds for demonstrations after the Sabra and Shatila massacre and in favour of the Oslo Accords. In more recent times, the Four Mothers and Women Wage Peace have called for the women to be more front and centre when it comes to security decision making policy.
Week 4: Jewish or Democratic?
The tension between those who would like to see Israel governed by Halacha to those who want it to be a state for all its citizens and everything in between has been the source of dozens of protest movements. Haredim have taken to the streets to protest against the Supreme Court, archeological digs at holy sites, the army draft and even iconic tv shows such as “The Jews Are Coming”. Meanwhile, ongoing Women of the Wall protests at the Kotel and more recent gay rights and Jewish Nation-State law protests have come to symbolize the clash between majority and minority rights in Israel.
Week 5: Arab Rights in Israel
From the Land Day protests in 1976 to the current protest against Kamenitz Law, the issue of land distribution and building rights has been at the heart of tensions between Israel’s Arab population and the government. In addition to the October 2000 protests and the 2020 anti-gun violence campaigns, this class will explore the different expressions of Arab and Palestinian identity in Israel through protest.
Week 6: Balfour Protests
Over 10 different protest movements calling for everything from women's rights to justice for Iyad Al Halak began protesting outside the home of Prime Minister Netanyahu in May 2020. Since that time, their weekly gatherings in Jerusalem calling for his resignation over his alleged corruption have shaped the political climate in Israel more than any other movement in recent memory. This final class will explore what happens when several protest movements merge into one in response to them all sharing a common problem, while having vast differences of opinion in regards to the solution they desire.