The scenes were chastening and heart-wrenching: anguished parents and siblings and spouses of the kidnapped literally holding Israel’s government hostage as they demand their lawmakers do anything — everything — to bring their loved ones home.
It was raw and visceral, and extremely painful to watch the sheer sense of helplessness projected upon Knesset members who, in the end, may be just as helpless as the families of the hostages themselves.
Although the protesters numbered barely 20, their cries were seen and heard around the world.
As they should have been.
Israel is an open and democratic society where politicians are elected by its citizens to serve its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike.
It’s an imperfect democratic system, just like every democratic system, but it is a democracy.
And aggrieved mothers shouting “Shame on you” as they implore their government to find their kidnapped children — this is how democracy is supposed to work, this is democracy in action.
And this is clearly not Hamas.
Yet within minutes of the Knesset images’ release on Monday, pro-Palestinian activists were using the protest in Jerusalem to protest (what else?) against Israel.
Their tactics were basic and banal: Posts pouring across social media of the Knesset fracas intended — in the hands of Israel’s detractors — as a sign of a nation coming undone.
They were intended to suggest that Israeli unity is fraying amid a war that has now claimed hundreds of soldiers, along with the more than 1,200 murdered on Oct. 7 in whose name those soldiers now fight.
Their message was clear: As Israel tries to win the war, it’s losing the battle for the soul of the nation.
Trouble is, the anti-Israel crowd got the message all wrong.
Everything about this scenario — the Knesset fracas, the aggrieved families, the sheer public nature of it all —- conveys Israel’s moral authority throughout their battle in Gaza against Hamas.
Indeed, while Hamas leaders burrow within secret tunnels hidden deep from public scrutiny, Israel is airing its dirty laundry for all the world to see.
And that laundry, is at times, incredibly dirty.
There are numerous reports of Israeli officials ignoring detailed warnings about Hamas’ actions in the weeks — if not years — before Oct. 7, which could have possibly prevented the attack.
Not to mention the lengthy paper trail of Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy of appeasement around Hamas, which allowed the terror organization to flourish over the past decade as Israel’s right-wing government turned its attention to the West Bank.
We know Israel is responsible for the deaths of at least three hostages in Gaza and we know that the soldiers who mistakenly killed them had not followed protocols.
Unlike in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where mass anti-government marches have raged in some form for over a year now, there have been almost no protests against Hamas by Gazan civilians — despite the penchant of the former for stealing relief aid from the latter.
The minimal outcry that has been witnessed was quickly shut down by Hamas apparatchiks, the fates of those who dared cry out uncertain and imperiled.
We haven’t even seen Hamas’ Gazan chieftains Yahya Sinwar or Mohammed Deif since Oct. 7 — too busy, it appears, scurrying from tunnel to tunnel to bother addressing their own people.
Never mind finding ways to put an end to the hostilities.
Beyond a well-oiled propaganda machine, we actually haven’t seen anything from Hamas in the form of governance over the past three-and-a-half months except for the thousands of rockets launched into Israel and the ghoulish thugs who accompanied freed Israeli hostages during their final moments in Gaza.
Desperate and relentless, the global anti-Israel machine will seize upon any moment — any image — as proof of Israel’s supposed fascistic nature and genocidal intent.
But more often than not, those moments, such as the outburst in the Knesset this week, confirm just the opposite.
Battered and bruised, Israel’s democracy, much like Israel itself, continues to be open, strong, and very public.