2011-08-06 Historic protest in #Israel: over 300,000 demand social justice

Image Largest rally in Israeli history sees four percent of the population out in the streets — that would be 12 million people in the streets of the US! (Photo: ActiveStills)

The Israeli social justice movement has just gone into orbit and exploded into previously unchartered territories. According to police estimates (which tend to be conservative), 300,000 protesters took to the streets across the country in what constitutes the largest-ever protest in the country’s history. And still no coverage in the mainstream media!

The stellar growth of the J14 movement, which was sparked when a young Israeli woman named Daphni Leef pitched a tent in Tel Aviv three weeks ago to protest against the unaffordable cost of housing in the country, has put immense pressure on the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu. In just three weeks, the Prime Minister has seen his approval rating tumble nearly 20 percent, to a dismal 32 percent.

The protests, while feeding on the widespread anger in the middle class about the unbearable cost of living, have since matured to take up a number of other progressive issues — and have now morphed into a full-blown social justice movement, contesting the free-market zealotry of Benjamin Netanyahu and the crony capitalist system that lurks behind the neoliberal edifice his government is trying to keep intact.

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu immediately tried to play down the protests, saying the media had inflated the numbers. But the only numbers that are being inflated appear to be the economic data from Netanyahu’s government, according to which Israel is doing great. In reality, the country experienced home prices jumping some 35 percent between 2008 and 2010. Because wages remained stagnant, many families have simply been priced out of their homes.

Years ago, current President Shimon Peres warned that Netanyahu’s economic polices would lead to “6,000 millionaires and 6 million beggars.” In recent years, his gloomy predictions appear to have materialized. Israel is now the second most unequal country in the developed world — behind only the United States. And with many middle class families spending half their income on their rent or mortgage, it was just a matter of time for the outrage to surface.

After three weeks, there are signs that the internal cohesion of the protest movement (which is broadly representative of the Israeli middle class) might be fracturing into progressive and nationalistic cores. In the protest camps, Jewish supremacists increasingly clash with left-wing protesters demanding more attention for the Palestinian question. Some progressives are demanding the removal of racist and fascist elements within the movement.

The swelling of the protests comes at the same time as anti-neoliberal protests in Spain and Chile have reached new heights. From Latin America to Europe and the Middle East, there is something in the air. 2011 is still in full swing.

Photo collection: 972 Magazine.

Corporate Media...

being, part of the establishment, will never be comfortable reporting on threats to the status quo. Also, the Media have always been trailing indicators of public opinion. In some ways they are prostitutes pandering to the tastes of their clients. In reality, this is simply good business. If one assumes that Media companies are rational businesses, then one should expect them to only publish stories that people will pay to hear about.

Perhaps those of us who endlessly critisize the MSM for unbalanced reporting are naive to assume that journalists should have a higher moral standard than any other professional, that they should not like the rest of us seek to maximize our incomes. Have no doubts that corporations and governments use their financial resources to air their side of the story. On the other hand, alternative news sources live from hand to mouth, struggling to motivate ordinary people enough to contribute $5. So long as we have a dollar, we will enjoy spending it, when we nolonger have the dollar we will have nothing to contribute to getting our side published.

NYT had an article in the Middle East section. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/world/middleeast/07jerusalem.html?ref=...

actually, there *was*

actually, there *was* mainstream media coverage -- at least in Germany:

"Jewish Supremacists" sounds like a label that..

should stick in people's throats. But of course Jews are no different than anyone else. Special status and entitlements have always been the glue which bonds human organizations together.

I've been well aware of liberal Jews who have advocated fair treatment of Palistinians, but their message is often strangled. I hope the current protests can give them voice and credibility.

A protest which demands justice on a selective basis is not credible. That would not be a demand for justice, but only a demand to be included in the privaleged group.

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