Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
A well-organized group of protesters took over Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, March 26, 2023.

The rallies that took to the streets of several Israeli cities around 10 PM on Sunday were the best organized and best coordinated in Israeli history. The numbers were likely blown out of proportion, it was tens rather than hundreds of thousands, but they were dense, and, as always, packed thousands of Israeli flags, lest one thinks the demonstrators were unpatriotic.


It began Sunday night, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant that he had lost his trust, having violated their agreement from last Thursday not to make public appearances about the judicial reform while the PM was in London. On Monday morning is going to reveal if their incredibly effective campaign reached its goal.

Around 10 PM, several hours after Gallant’s ousting, several thousand demonstrators invaded Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, Israel’s busiest thoroughfare, and stayed there for nine straight hours, despite police attempts to remove them. Police, including mounted cops, tried to push the demonstrators up the exit ramps and back to the street level and were pelted by the rallying patriots with all kinds of objects. The cops even tried the water cannon – not with stink water, God forbid––that’s used only on Haredim, Ethiopians, and settlers––but the water was shot out of a canon, it’s on the record.

Also on the record, Tel Aviv police district chief Ami Eshed on Sunday afternoon walked among the protesters like a beloved rock star, representing as he did National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s failure to fire him on account of the unauthorized and plainly illegal intervention of Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.

The organizers were devotedly supported by the mainstream media that hyped every demonstration, every familiar cluster of flags at every intersection. This was in turn reverberated on social media, where Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest became dotted with angry but united Israelis of one common social strata, who vowed to keep rallying until the judicial reform is stopped, and in a few cases, according to the organizers, until Bibi goes home.

In the end, this may be the final chapter in the best-financed and best-organized civilian campaign, which outshined the 1974 post-Yom Kippur rallies that led to the resignation of the Labor leadership. Today’s rallies are using so much more money (estimated at NIS 10 million per week, over more than 12 weeks so far) and the biggest media echo chamber ever. They make Saul Alinsky so proud, using every chapter of his Rules for Radicals.

Overnight, social media became filled with speculations and announcements of various coalition members who gave in to the massive opposition campaign: the Haredim were prepared to give the reform a rest, several Likud MKs, some who had had a beef with Netanyahu over ministerial appointments and some who worry about their political future after Bibi goes home. And, of course, there was President Herzog, who had betrayed several senior Israeli academics and professionals whose more benign reform ideas he pretended to accept only to offer a useless alternative, undoubtedly written by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, which gave the court even more powers.

Herzog, who is working on the next phase of his political career, stated: “We’ve seen very difficult scenes tonight. I am addressing the Prime Minister, the members of the government, and the members of the coalition: the feelings are hard and painful. Deep concern surrounds the entire nation. Our security, economy, and society, they are all threatened. The eyes of the entire nation of Israel are on you. The eyes of the entire Jewish people are on you. The eyes of the whole world are on you.”

Yes, Israel’s security is threatened because several hundred elite reservists have declared their insubordination and met with the most feeble response by the chief of staff, who, like the AG, was appointed by the previous government (they rushed him in at the last minute, and clearly knew what they were doing). The economy is threatened? Anyone who tried to harm the Israeli economy by taking their money out of local banks came crawling back, begging for help, after US banks that held their money went under. Society? The clear majority of Israeli Jews favored the judicial reform in the one place where it counted – the ballot box.

But President Herzog was tasting victory when he preached, unashamed: “For the sake of unity with the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately. I appeal to the heads of all factions of the Knesset, coalition and opposition alike, to put the citizens of the country above all else, and to act responsibly and courageously without further delay. Come to your senses now! This is not a political moment, this is a moment for leadership and responsibility.”

Netanyahu will likely succumb to all this pressure. He may not have the votes in his own party to pursue the legislation anyway. Constitution Committee MK Simcha Rothman announced that he was planning to push the legislation forward, thank you very much, and Justice Minister Yariv Levin reportedly threatened to resign – but Netanyahu may not have much fight left in him. His attorney, Boaz Ben Tzur, announced that if he continues with the legislation, he, Ben Tzur, will stop representing him in his criminal trial. The attorney may not be able to quit – it would be up to the court, you don’t quit a criminal case unless you were run over by a bus or something similar, but who knows?

As always, it is up to Bibi. But if he gives in to this massive campaign, financed by the US the way the US in the past paid for so many removals of democratically elected leaders, from Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 to President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1970, and so many more in between and later. Netanyahu should also know that there’s no coming back from this one.

The PM will speak in about one hour from when this report is filed. Stay Tuned.


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