We are very pleased to present this report from long-time EAS collaborator and correspondent from Tel Aviv, Einat Moglad. As an artist and art therapist, she relates her story of volunteering with the Blue Jewish Star - First Aid Mental Health Station during tense political protests, with Israeli citizens taking to the streets to express their disagreements, anger and concerns over government actions that they believe undermines democratic principles. The protest has taken place for 30 weeks straight, bringing together up to 150-360 thousand people each week.
In recent times, Israel is witnessing a surge of passionate demonstrations, as citizens take to the streets to voice their discontent against the government's policies and actions. Fueled by a sense of frustration and the desire for change, these protests are a reflection of the growing concerns regarding this current government’s actions. Allegations of Israeli government leaders' attempts to undermine the court system and politicize the law raised serious concerns about the state of democracy in the country. Such actions, if proven true, pose a significant threat to the principles of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. As protests continue to gain momentum, these demonstrations serve as a poignant reminder of the power of collective action and the unwavering determination of the people to shape the future of their nation for the better.
Being a therapist in the midst of these protests can be an eye-opening experience. In the heart of Tel Aviv, I volunteered to support those who were protesting, to listen to their stories, and offer them a space for expression and healing. As part of my work at the Blue Jewish Star – First Aid Mental Health Station, I witnessed the power of solidarity, fears for the future, and the transformative impact of art therapy.
As gatherings began, people arrived with mixed emotions. Individuals sought solace in the company of others who shared their concerns. The diversity of the crowd was striking--young and old, families and individuals from different parts of the country were assembling, reflecting the wide range of perspectives and backgrounds that converged at this critical moment. It was both humbling and inspiring to witness people gathering in concern and care for the country’s future.
At the Mental Health Station, I found myself engaging with individuals and listening attentively to their fears, hopes, and frustrations. Many felt unheard, overlooked and disconnected from the decisions affecting their lives. My role as a therapist was to offer a listening ear and provide a safe space for people to express their emotions without judgment. The simple act of being heard and validated can often provide immense relief and empowerment. I witnessed how this simple act of listening had an impact on morale. At times people left the station feeling better, hopeful or simply happy to know that there are people who care.
To facilitate emotional expression, we created an art therapy wall, a canvas for people to visually communicate their thoughts and feelings. Through art and creative spontaneous expression, individuals could find an outlet for their emotions. The wall became an immersive display of the collective experiences. As people engaged with the art therapy wall, they transformed their internal struggles into external representations. It was remarkable to witness the cathartic effect this process had on many participants. This experience demonstrated the power of art to heal and empower. The wall was filled with protestor’s words and images, reflecting a large array of emotions. This enabled people to witness a way to participate in being heard and understood.
The Mental Health Station became a space where people realized that they were not alone in their fears and aspirations. In this communal gathering, a shared sense of purpose blossomed, allowing individuals to see the potential for change that arises when voices come together.
Volunteering as a therapist in the Israeli protest is an unforgettable experience. I admit that I am not much different than my “patients” in the sense that, I too, feel concern about the country’s course of actions. This is useful in my work. It allows me to have an empathetic connection that fosters a deep sense of trust and understanding with the individuals involved in the demonstration. This work reminded me of the profound impact we can have by simply showing up, listening, and providing a space for healing and expression. Through art therapy, individuals found solace and a sense of belonging in a time of uncertainty. I myself as a therapist found great support among colleagues, knowing that there was a place to be seen.
Most importantly, the protest showcased the power of unity, community, and the indomitable spirit of those who dare to stand up for what they believe in. This is a power worth noting in the midst of the political storm.
ADDENDUM: Escalating Storm
Since Einat Moglad wrote the piece above, the political storm has escalated with the Israeli Parliament passing a law on July 24th that strips the Supreme Court of its power to block government decisions, the first part of a planned judicial overhaul that has sharply divided Israeli society and drawn fierce criticism and mass protests provoking chants of “We will not give up.”
Einat adds “There is a true struggle over the Israeli democracy, a dangerous law was passed that puts Israel’s democracy in a grave state–not danger, we are way past danger. I hope for chaos and the rebirth of this country.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Einat Moglad is a contemporary Israeli Artist and art therapist. She completed her M.A. in “Art Therapy'' from the Haifa University 2013. Einat holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and education Cum Laude from Hamidrasha Beit-Berl College in 2011.
From 2011 Einat has displayed dozens of her works in exhibitions and galleries across Israel and around the world (including the UK, NYC and other locations in Europe) as well as participated in festivals and residencies in Israel and abroad. Einat debuted her solo exhibition “Edges” at Machon Hamayim soon after her graduation exhibition.
Einat is also the driving force behind the project “Scribble it Down” which focuses on collaborative experimental art since 2012. The project has received several awards and grants from the EAS organization in California.
Einat is infatuated with art, nature, people and Japanese culture. Her debut poetry book will be published in the fall of 2023.