At first it might have seemed frivolous, even incongruous, that the Chosen People would have decided to go camping during the hottest time of the year to protest against social injustices in the Holy Land. Those same chosen people who, let us not forget, usually spend the best part of this time of the year calculating their every move according to what distance it would put them from their holier-than-thou air-conditioning devices.
However, this year they have forgone that heavenly right to have “cold feet” and instead have chosen to go brave the heat and the institutionalized injustices. They have put up tents and opened an exponential camping site on one of Tel aviv’s landmark lanes: Rothschild Boulevard. The very same boulevard, where some 63 years ago, the Independence of the State was declared. Need it be added that had its major points been followed to the letter, chances are, all could still have enjoyed a heat- and hussle-free simmering Summer? However, and as happens more often than not, it was not to be followed and the promises of equality, freedom, justice and peace are precisely what people are demanding today, albeit in different terms.
What started as a low-profile protest about the prices of cottages, both cheese and houses, has now been embraced by an ever growing amount of the population and is finally appearing as a serious affair that does not just revolve around spoiled young kids from the Bubble wanting to have their cheese and eat it in an air-conditioned cottages. According to yesterday’s estimates, every 1 out of 50 Israeli has joined the angry crowds, and the number is more than likely to grow next week and the one after, until the demands are met. There are calls for a million men march in September, another closer for a general strike tomorrow and most importantly, those new ‘urban campers’ are showing no signs whatsoever of fatigue. They have a good reasons: to defuse the process of the vanishing of the middle-class and all its advantages. The latter have been enjoyed for 4 decades in Europe, and a mere 2 in Israel and noone is ready to let go of them and let multi-nationals and governments alone enjoy the fruits of the people’s labour. Which is precisely the unifying factor in the Israeli crisis.
Many have asked and/or complained about the a-politicization of the current mass movement that is ‘but’ demanding “social justice”, without even mentioning either the other main minority in this country that has suffered such blatant injustices for so many years, or what is called here “the political situation” and can mean anything from the territories, to the settlements, or the ultra-religious parties – that have nothing to envy their extremist counterparts in other parts of the globe -, the parasite yeshivot, the promises of war to come, the terror each alone or all together. The fact is that everyone marching down the streets and demanding social justice knows that it is all but the two sides of one same coin. Everyone marching knows that the settlements are a huge governmental cash bin, ditto for the real and fictitious yeshivas. Everyone also knows that should they want a ‘better quality of life’ all one has to do nowadays is cross the green line… Everyone knows Israeli Arabs are treated as second-class citizens and do not have the same opportunities. Everyone knows it is fundamentally wrong.
Had any of these points been addressed at the early stages of the protest, the latter would never have reached the dimension it has now and thus, the possibility of any change happening would have been still-born. Whether or not this a-politicization was planned matters little.
So today being a-political this movement has the advantage of being able to pull all together and to unify a society that is know as having three opinions to every two men and usually very reluctant to to take to the streets. They certainly do not all shout exactly the same and you do have some parties trying to take a free ride here and there, but the basic line is the same for all: the bubble has burst and as Holy as the ground is, it still does not explain the vulgar disparity between the cost of life, the “political situation” and the ever degrading situation in the first two rows of Maslows’s hierarchy of needs.
A.David – 31/07/11