On Sunday (which is not the weekend here) I attended the protest written about and filmed here (you can see me in the background). As the first real protest I have ever attended, I think what I found most striking was that it was not in a country in which I have citizenship. In some ways, this seems really odd, especially because this was not even a Jewish issue that was being protested. However, in another way it makes perfect sense since this country is so much smaller, and, because I am part of the majority culture, I take an interest in issues (as most Israelis do) in a more personal way than I do back home.
Granted, this ability to care or not care about pressing social issues in one’s society is a result of privilege, but it is not as if I enjoy less privilege here than in Canada – if anything, as a Jew I might enjoy more privilege here than at home. I think the difference might lie in the fact that democracy is stretched to well beyond its limits when dealing with a constituency numbering too far about 10 million (let’s say). Further, when a country is as multicultural as Canada is, there are so many different segments of the populace with their own agenda and needs that coming together to fight for something is harder – or at least more of the population may well find it harder to be properly motivated. When the population is more accountable democratically, and when most of the population shares more culture (which is not for a second to neglect the fact that the religious spectrum here includes people diametrically opposed on almost all issues), it seems more likely that the average citizen – and non-citizen – will take an interest in participating in the democratic process in a more concrete way than just casting a vote.