The J14 movement is back tonight with its first large-scale protest since early September. Musician Ami Yares hopes the movement takes a more decisive direction this time around.
By Ami Yares
“It’s happening again… Get ready for it … Even better this time … We’re returning to the streets.”
If I wasn’t so damn cynical, I’d be thanking some ineffable being for the energy and drive of Israel’s 99% to continue to yell, shout, and stomp their feet in order to get some attention.
But I am cynical… and on top of that, a little selfish.
A few nights ago, I was forced to cancel a performance that I scheduled long before tonight’s protest was announced. As a professional musician, my livelihood relies on these gigs.
Before the fateful conversation took place to end the life of my ill-scheduled performance, I spoke to a few of my compatriots about the event. Many were surprised to hear that “yet another protest was to occur” and some were tickled pink to know that “we’re going back to the streets.” Most notably missing was the contagious exuberance that epitomized the summer.
When I finally spoke to the bar’s booker, she too sighed and lacked the luster that propelled the summer’s enthusiasm. She actually admitted that numerous protests and street parties had hurt the bar’s business, despite the bar’s support of the protests. In fact, a symbolic tent has been a mainstay of the bar’s outdoor area. After reviewing the facts together, we decided to pull the plug on the performance. No one was RSVPing and we believed it to be foolish to compete with the protest.
Canceling the gig meant that neither the bar’s employees, nor my band would see any income to buy our next container of overpriced whatever.
I certainly believe the bar and I are in the 99%, so why does it feel like the struggle is against me? I thought artists and musicians were lawful components of society. Just because I’m an artist, doesn’t mean I work for free. I need opportunities to support myself. Since the government doesn’t provide me with a subsidized living expense, I still need to work and produce. Yet it looks I’m becoming more indy than an In-D-Negev band. I’m so indy, I don’t even perform.
Nevertheless, I will be at tonight’s protest and I’ll be damned if my voice isn’t included in the assembly of the people. However, I hope this protest is different from the others. I need some good news.
The Trachtenberg committee has astutely revealed we’re being screwed.
The news tells us little or no progress is being made.
Another protest is going to tell us we’re still mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
Our emotions have been important catalysts for the struggle for a state that really provides for its people. However, anger and reproach haven’t really solved anything in the past. The struggle has created an impetus, but is there enough momentum for a solution?
I want to see progress and know where to go when we leave the streets on Saturday night.
At the end of the day, I certainly hope the number of people protesting exceeds the numbers of the people previously shouting their dismay. More importantly, I hope that one of the speakers takes advantage of the numbers and suggests a practical to way to fight the injustice bred in our society. That they inspire the masses to do something more than to just gather, to yell, to occupy a street and to even to be forcefully removed from the street.
Should we be volunteering our time more? Should we not go out to a pricey restaurant or maybe we should be using less electricity and water …. WHAT??
The feeling of disillusionment arises in me once again and I want to know where we’re going with the struggle. Deep down, I really hope that we can channel our disappointment for the past and optimism for the future into forward momentum. Canceling my gig isn’t my choice, it’s a consequence of the protest consuming my life. So as long as the protest is going to interrupt my life, tell me something new.
You too, may soon have to relinquish something for the sake of all of us. There will be sacrifices and concessions that we will have to make and I hope they are not for naught. We hope the government changes, but it’s also us, the people, who need to change too.
I don’t want this struggle to fall to the wayside and become a puff piece for the papers to cover. Yes, this could be just another protest. Yet, it could also be the protest that motivates us to move forward together and actively make a difference with our hands and not just with our feet and mouths. So, for crying out loud, tell me something that I haven’t heard.
I’d be happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions to be players and not pawns in the struggle. In the meantime, I’m going to go about my business and make music mean something.
See you tonight.
And please, buy my music.
Ami Yares is a songwriter, musician, and educator based in Jaffa. Most recently, he received a grant from the US State Department and the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to teach and perform American music born in and out of US social movements. For more info For more info on Ami’s whereabouts, visit www.amiyares.com and Facebook.