Last night, about 300,000 protesters crowded Israel's streets. Protests in support of the demonstrators have arisen in New York City and Washington, D.C. as well.
Some can argue that the protests are the product of leftist agitation. Even if this is the case, it is no longer a relevant consideration. Protesters are a substantial constituency in both the center and periphery of Israel, and enjoy support from the Israeli public. They constitute a salient political entity with which the government must contend. What the protesters want more than anything, it seems, are alternatives to the status quo. Yet these alternatives cannot be created overnight, and governments must balance competing interests in designing them.
One of the key long-term considerations for these alternatives will be inclusion of the youth voice. Because Israel votes on a closed-list system and is only 63 years old, the status quo tends to remain the status quo. This system has allowed the grievances of protesters, many of whom are youth or at least not "old guard," to accumulate. Because of this, it would be unfair to blame Prime Minister Netanyahu alone for a generation-long failure to provide alternatives.
However, creating a change in the status quo requires creating a change in those legislating it. For too long, the concerns of the young generation have been underrepresented in Israeli politics. Taking steps to strengthen the youth voice would help to allay the current concerns of protesters, and prevent similar protests in the future. Inclusion of the youth would allow the government to preemptively identify and react to the political demands which are now putting the governing coalition in serious jeopardy. More importantly, a country whose politicians are constantly willing to reexamine the status quo are is a country who will be aggressive at providing for its citizens and serving its national interests. The people of Israel deserve nothing less.