1,000 Tables – Come Witness a Society Transforming Itself

Originally published on Daily Kos

The symbolic democratization of a protest movement occurred on Saturday as thousands of citizens across Israel gathered around tables, determined to talk, to transform their society through dialogue in the wake of the country’s largest-ever protest.

In over 30 cities across the country, Israelis from a multitude of political, cultural and ethnic backgrounds engaged in highly personal and often intense discussions about political and social issues, with everyone eying how to transform their country for the better.

At tables set for 10 people, Jews talked with Arabs, blue collar workers spoke with pensioners, lawyers spoke with university students, secular Jews spoke with Orthodox Jews – everyone trying to transform their country through dialogue.

Called “1,000 tables,” Israel’s young social justice protesters turned this…

1000tables
Empty tables in Tel Aviv set up by Israel’s social justice protesters.

…into this:


Israelis all across the country, from all walks of life,     meet to discuss political and social issues.

Citizens all over the country engaged with each other, collectively sharing personal thoughts and hammering out ideas on how to improve the country, on how to create a more just society.

Here, listen for a moment:

Table 49 – Tel Aviv

My mother fought in the war in 1948, and I can tell you this is not the state she intended to fight for.

Table 111 – Tel Aviv

This struggle arose so that it would be possible for us to speak, together, about social issues not related to the typical security or war discussions.

Table 489 – El Arakiv

I’m here to relay a message, and it’s that the Arab community in Israel is suffering from a lack of equality. Period.

Table 9 – Tevayon

It’s essential that we create groups of Jewish and Arab children who can talk about things other than the conflict that exists between them. We’re all human – we need to speak.

Table 7 – Jerusalem

If we want to keep living here, things have to change – we need continued activism.

Table 331 – Kiryat Yovel

We hate each other, and that’s our problem. We need to change ourselves and worry more about each other.

Table 191 – Tel Aviv

Equal opportunities must exist for everyone, from the North to the South.

This event was part of what Israel’s youthful protest organizers are calling “phase 2,” a phase in which organizers hope to effect political and social changes in Israel through direct dialogue with citizens and with the government.

Tonight’s event comes on the heels of the largest protest in Israel’s history last week in which nearly 500,000 Israelis (which would be 19,000,000 in the U.S.) marched in the streets, demanding economic and social reforms from Netanyahu’s government.

Protest for social Justice, Tel Aviv, Israel, 3/9/2011.

In Israel, we are witnessing a society being transformed, and this transformation is being led by Israel’s youth, in particular Daphi Leef, the woman who began all of this eight weeks ago when, as an act of civil disobedience, she camped in the streets of Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s extreme housing costs (and the growing unequal distribution of wealth in the country).

Protest for social Justice, Tel Aviv, Israel, 3/9/2011.
Daphni Leef speaks before hundreds of thousands in Tel Aviv last Saturday night.

This protest movement in Israel is inspiring, and protest leaders here in the U.S. could look toward what is happening there for examples of how to mobilize a nation.

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Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG

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About David Harris-Gershon

David Harris-Gershon – a blogger for Tikkun magazine and a freelance writer on Israel, the Middle East and America’s role in the region – has recently published work in The Jerusalem Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, AlterNet, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Colorado Review and elsewhere. His memoir – What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? – is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications (2013). He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and has worked extensively as an educator, teaching creative writing and Israeli History / Jewish Studies in university and high school classrooms. Follow David on Twitter @David_EHG

Posted on September 10, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. fantasic, a deep bow to this people. i am working as a teacher in berlin with tuerkish, Kurdish, arabic kids and some other nations. to speak and learn together and to develope the gift of diversity in a enviroment of participation brings the seed for democratic systems to grow, gertrud

  2. Whar a great demonstration of concern–finally the Israeli people assemble to discuss the status of their country and the effects of the years of manipulation by the ‘governments’ in the Knesset and the rich class of land exploiters: May the Israelis realize that they must change and convince the world that their people are in charge and wishing to live in a just peace…Aaron Allen…

  3. Thank you. This is a powerful vision of humanity at work. It brings tears to my eyes to see this expression of possibility and power.

  4. Thanks for bringing this story to my attention. You’re doing great work. I posted a link here: http://www.mediate-la.com/2011/09/1000-tables.html
    because I think this story might be of interest to mediators.

  5. What an inspiration. What a powerful drawing from the soul of all that could possibly be good, and beautiful and visionary and beloved. What an indictment of the state of so-called global leadership. What a joy to witness even from this far away place. This gesture goes beyond Israel and resonates with all our rarely admitted to human longing for connection and understanding, and dare I say it, a seeking to love, simply or die trying. These are moments that make the whole human adventure meaningful. Thank you to every soul involved.

  1. Pingback: The Hub Roma » Blog Archive » Dalla protesta alla prospota: Le 1.000 Round Tables di Tel Aviv

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