The right to protest is a central feature of democracy.
This is even encoded in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ensuring freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of speech.
Furthermore, youth groups, such as the Scouts and thousands of other organizations around the world, are a vital channel for kids to develop their social and leadership skills, contribute to their broader society, and learn responsibility and civil duties.
For almost 100 years, Zionist Youth movements have provided an opportunity for teenagers to put their feelings and ideals into action; to make an impact on the world around them, by helping others and by building their land.
Here in Beit Shemesh, the City dedicates budgets to fund some of the Youth Movements' activities and facilities.
However, when the Municipality recently failed to transfer funding to the city’s Youth Organizations, the kids took the initiative and arranged a wall-to-wall protest.
In spite of some heavy-handed intimidation by members of the council’s coalition, the demonstration successfully united all the youth groups, secular, religious, left wing, right wing…including Ariel, Beitar, Bnei Akiva, Hanoar Ha'oveid V'halomeid, Yachad, Ezra, Tzedek, and Tzofim….
Hundreds of well behaved kids turned out, waving placards, chanting slogans and making rousing speeches.
Instead of acknowledging the youthful democratic enthusiasm and initiative, such as by engaging the kids in open debate, the municipality chose to fight (unfairly) back.
I understand that members of the city council arranged to change the locks on youth clubs doors, essentially closing down the Youth Movements' activities.
A hundred yards from my home, the spanking new local “Ariel” girls club house, is now locked.
I am amazed by this – what kind of message are our municipal leaders giving to the young generation? What example are they setting?
Shame on the City Council!