Jun 22, 2009

Protests in Iran vs. Protests in Israel

In the wake of the protests in Iran that will hopefully lead to the demise of the regime of terror there led by the Ayatollahs, an interesting discussion is raised about the efficacy and validity, more validity actually, of protests.

When is it ok to protest and when is it not ok? When is it ok to protest violently and when is it not ok?

In Israel, whenever people protest for what they believe in, whether it is the haredim protesting chillul shabbos, or settlers protesting the disengagement (examples that come to mind), we (as a public, not as individuals) tend to reject their right to protest, at least to allow the protests to turn violent.

Yet we see from Iran that the only way to succeed in change is often to protest even violently. If they had not gotten violent, the whole thing would have been put down in a day. Not only that, but the whole world is suddenly supporting violent protest.

So is it ok to support violence? Why do we not condemn the Iranian protesters that they are breaking the law and they should figure out how to protest within the law in a non-violent fashion?

Clearly there is a tipping point somewhere where the protests turn violent and break the law that is acceptable. perhaps it is dependent upon the trampling of human rights, but that would make it very subjective - why is this ok in iran because their rights are being trampled, but for example it was not ok for the expellees of Gush Katif even though their rights were being trampled, and the right to protest was quashed?

Somewhere there is a disconnet and we have become, as they say in Hebrew, yefei nefesh, and automatically reject the right to seriously protest. It is clear that the only way, maybe not the only way but the most effective way perhaps, major change can be effected is with serious protest


  1. It goes without saying that peaceful protest is always justified. You have a democratic right to make your voice heard.

    Violent protests IMO are almost never justified, unless it's pikuach nefesh. You can make your voice heard - but why should anybody else's property or person be damaged just because you have a grievance?

    The Iranian people started out by demonstrating peacefully, and it was a tremendously powerful message when a million people filled the streets of Tehran. When Ahmadi set his Basiji on them, they had every right to defend themselves, including burning the vehicles that were being used to attack them. And once the regime has established that it is willing to use lethal violence on peaceful protestors, IMO it is acceptable to overthrow them violently.

    How does that sound for rules of engagement?

  2. that sounds reasonable. let's extend it now. Let's use the haredi protests against the parking lot as an example.
    they went to protest and police started beating them with clubs. Then they got violent as well. Now it is justified? yet we are only shown images of violent haredim and we condemn them.

  3. the iranians are making a big point of demonstrating peacefully, mostly even when attacked. they can defend themselves!

  4. Did they start protesting peacefully, and the police set about them with clubs?

    Taking that argument at face value, then yes, they would be entitled to defend themselves (though they would have been better advised to run for it).

    But I doubt that's the whole story. As nasty as the police can sometimes get - and during disengagement I know of at least one case of a personal friend who was arguing with a cop, who out of the blue gave him a knee in the 'nads - I don't believe the line that the demonstrators were all innocently protesting and then the cops suddenly rushed them with batons. I'm afraid the reputation of this particular group of demonstrators precedes them: they don't care about anybody else's property rights when it comes to making their voice heard, and I'm afraid their chezkas kashrus when it comes to peacefulness is long lost.

  5. maybe not. I was just using them as an example, and I had not heard otherwise.
    The police have a lot of leeway when they want to use violence - think of the kid accused of starting a fire int he forest - we all saw the video. the police beat him ruthlessly. how much violence did he use? They simply called it "he resisted arrest" and then they were justified in using violence against him.
    I would not be the least surprised, without talking about specific cases, to find out that the police instigate most of the violence. we all know how brutal the the Yasamniks are.

  6. I hear ya. The cops don't exactly have a chezkas kashrus, either...


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