Author David Grossman: Coup’s instigators made ‘mistake of their lives’; compares far-right to Sicarii

Author David Grossman addresses a Jerusalem protest rally against the coalition's judicial overhaul, April 1, 2023. (Screenshot: Safeguarding Our Home)
Author David Grossman addresses a Jerusalem protest rally against the coalition's judicial overhaul, April 1, 2023. (Screenshot: Safeguarding Our Home)

Israeli author David Grossman invokes the Haggadah’s “Mah Nishtanah / Why is this night different” in his speech to several thousand anti-judicial overhaul protesters outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, asking the crowd: “Why is this night different from other nights?”

Because “we have changed, we the demonstrators, the protesters,” he says.

Grossman says “we ourselves did not imagine the extent of our hidden love for the life that we’ve been able to create here in Israel.”

He says modern Israel is not Herzl’s utopia, nor the ideal as set out in the Declaration of Independence. He says Israel has made mistakes, notably “the occupation of another people for 55 years.” And yet Israel has created something unique, thriving, with its own character, “even though it has felt like it has been on a tightrope for 75 years.”

But then, he says, came the current attempt to destroy its democracy.

Grossman says the mass demonstrations have come as a shock to the judicial overhaul’s instigators, who made “the mistake of their lives.”

“What’s different?” he asks. “We, who decided not to stop demonstrating… [Also] against Ben Gvir’s militia… We won’t stop… Silence is not an option.”

“The instigators of the coup did not read correctly — not our passion for freedom, nor our primal values ​​and wishes, the values of equality for each and every person, the democratic spirit, and humanity,” Grossman says.

The coming days will be a period of dialogue at the President’s Residence, “and that’s good.” But the people will return to protest with full force “the moment we recognize” that the discussion is not being conducted with integrity and honesty.

He praises the younger protesters — saying “maybe you are more desperate than us” and “maybe you feel you have no choice.”

“What is different?” he asks again. “We are the last line of defense for Israel against crushing tyranny,” he answers.

Grossman compares the “fanatics” bent on destroying Israeli democracy and everything that has been achieved here to the Sicarii Jewish zealots in the decades before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. These modern Sicarii, he warns, “will remake the entire state in their image if we let them.”

To help prevent that, too, he says, “we need a strong, independent Supreme Court.”

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