Israel Shows Us the Future of Protest

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04/22/2020

Rabin Square in Tel Aviv has always been a popular site for demonstration. Israelis gathered on this expansive plaza to protest the Gaza War in 2014 and to demand LGBT rights in 2018. It is also where, over the weekend, more than 2,000 people gathered to decry the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This most recent protest was unlike any of its predecessors, though. For one, its attendees had their faces covered. And rather than packing the square with people shoulder to shoulder, this demonstration aimed to spread people out, assembling them on designated marks at least six feet apart. The physical distance gave the impression of a much larger protest, as attendees took up the entirety of a space that has previously accommodated tens of thousands. Some sported face masks with crime minister written on them. Others wielded placards and flags. Such an image might have been unthinkable only a few months ago. But as with seemingly all things, the coronavirus has changed that. Today, mass protests have had to adapt to a world of social distancing, in which the large-scale rallies emblematic of global movements have been discouraged or, in some places, banned. The pandemic hasn’t spelled the end for mass protest, though; rather, the outbreak has changed it.

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