In Germany, those critical of government regulations concerning the virus are quickly categorised as right-wingers and conspiracy theorists, pushing those that do not identify with these labels into the arms of the right, instead of having a conversation with them. The criminalisation of social contact for the greater good might be the correct utilitarian response to the pandemic. But because the pandemic is a unique moment of global, simultaneously shared experiences, we should provide room for the various layers of those experiences.

Moral policing and finger-pointing will only strengthen populists, who are intent on instrumentalising the pandemic for their political interests. Instead, we should aim to rebuild trust, emphasising co-operation and solidarity as a strategy against the virus.

German-Brazilian Djamilia Prange de Oliveira (photo: Humans of Tel Aviv)
Neglected and marginlised: "FIT is much more than just fun in the sun without caring about coronavirus; it unites a segment of Israeli society that doesn’t feel represented by its government. The secular, young, workforce is Israel’s economic backbone," writes Prange de Oliveira

The marginalisation of a generation

Although Gaya says that FIT does not have a political agenda, it clearly is political. Its participants are the voice of a generation that feels neglected and marginalised by its government in the face of political instrumentalisation of the coronavirus crisis and financial pressure.

FIT is much more than just fun in the sun without caring about coronavirus; it unites a segment of Israeli society that doesn’t feel represented by its government. The secular, young, workforce is Israel’s economic backbone, as opposed to the non-working Orthodox, but they didn’t elect their Prime Minister, he is not their leader.

Considering the socio-political context of the protests – be they FIT, anti-government protests in Jerusalem, or the protests by shop owners who chant "Bibi you abandoned us" – one should be careful to judge them too quickly. Context matters, and context shows us that left and right don’t necessarily mean the same thing in different places.

We are experiencing a moment of split society. Either we judge each other, or we can give those who feel marginalised a voice and have a conversation, rebuilding trust and quelling disunity at a time when we are in fact united by necessity.

Djamilia Prange de Oliveira

© Qantara.de 2021

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