In January of 2023, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition proposed a series of judicial reforms that would essentially deprive the Israeli Supreme Court of its veto power. Notably, Netanyahu’s move to undermine the authority of the judiciary comes as he is awaiting trial for corruption. The Supreme Court is viewed by many as the final check on the government, and if the reforms passed, only a simple majority in Parliament would be required to override any decision made by the court. The proposed judicial overhaul garnered opposition from across the political spectrum. It is estimated that potentially 21% of Jewish Israelis have taken part in at least 1 protest relating to the judicial overhaul in the past few months. However, by far the most enraged are the urban, generally left-leaning Israelis, whose discontent with Israel’s ultra-religious right-wing governance has been steadily growing.
While various protests had been consistently organized ever since the reforms were initially proposed, the anger came to a head on Sunday evening, March 26th, when the Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, was fired by Netanyahu after speaking out against the judicial reforms. This event led to an eruption of spontaneous protests that went on until the early hours of Monday morning. The following day witnessed the announcement of various union strikes across the country, essentially planning to bring the nation to a halt. However, that evening Netanyahu announced that he would reverse the firing of Gallant and that the legislation would be delayed, which led to the strike being called off. Below is BPR’s own documentary short to show the very realities in Israel of that week:
‘Democracy Pretzel’ is meant to highlight the rapid normalization of political disarray.
Within a few weeks of ongoing protests, the profiteers hit the streets to sell the pretzels to the protesters. This video aims to present a true account of the protests and political drama that took place in Israel at the end of March, communicating what it was like to live through. Further, the video attempts to highlight the mundane aspects of the protests: the dogs, the kids, the pretzel vendors, etc. Hopefully, the everyday details provide a more relatable alternative to the sensationalized depictions of the protests by international news media organizations.
Ultimately, regardless of your political views, the March 26th spontaneous protests and the subsequent threats of a nationwide strike have proven to be a monumental event in Israeli political history. With the legislation merely being delayed, this issue is still very much alive. It remains to be seen whether or not the political pressure or, more importantly, the opposition’s anger toward Netanyahu can be sustained.
Until then, the twisted political situation Israel finds itself in can only be described as a ‘Democracy Pretzel.’
Featured image source: AFP – Getty Images