On a recent weekday, 40 students astonished passersby at Hebrew University when they suddenly began dancing in the middle of one of the busiest campus thoroughfares. Forty dancers performed to a popular Black Eyed Peas song blended with "Demokrati" from the hit 1970's film, Kasablan, a kind of Israeli West Side Story.
Known as a "flashmob," this type of performance art/street theater not only grabs attention -- it makes people smile. You can smile yourself by clicking here.
The attention-grabber was the kick-off for a campaign organized by a SHATIL student intern with support from NIF to "protect democracy so democracy will protect us," as the leaflet the activists distributed said.
The leaflet urged students to get involved rather than give in to infringements on their rights: having to sit in the back of the bus if they are female; get paid tips instead of a salary; being prevented from protesting for fear of arrest; being unable to find an apartment to rent because they are Arab, and more.
"Israeli democracy is facing complex challenges," said organizer Talia Ramati, a 26-year-old student of social work and law. "We don’t hear the voices of disempowered populations; social change organizations and universities are under attack; human and civil rights are at risk. So we decided to turn the public space in the University into a more democratic one through a flashmob that raises awareness and calls for greater freedom."
The campaign is part of an effort to unite campus groups -- each of which works on its own particular issue -- to promote democracy and human rights on campus and to protect them against recent threats from right wing groups.
Enjoy the beat!