Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chronology of the Israeli protest – August 27

On Saturday, August 27, there was a main demonstration in Tel Aviv but also big manifestations in several other cities. We headed to the city were I spent most of my adolescence years - Rishon Letzion. The event was divided into a march and a central concentration with singers and speeches.

There were only a few hundred marchers, so it was a bit disappointing. They were a mix of social-democrat youth movements lads and ordinary people. I was soooo proud of this youth, my youth - finally, during this whole protest, seeing the ideological secular-liberal youth taking the streets.

When we arrived to the main park of the city, I was surprised and cheered to find that there was there a huge public of several thousand people awaiting the marchers. They were all family people, and if I know enough the city, you can count that they weren't leftist. Most of them were the common electorate of the right wing parties. They protested, they chanted, they promised to rebuild the tents over and over again and even if the tents will disappear they promised to keep meeting in 'popular gatherings' to discuss their right and planning their next steps.

They were standing and singing shoulder to shoulder with the socialist youth movements. It was a moment to remember. Let's hope both sides will know how to maintain this cooperation.

I momentarily had a dream that the left movements in Israel will stop talking on high profile on the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict and instead embrace this public which joined them and raised the humanist-liberal-socialist banner above all else, and take care of the needs of this public. I hope I'm wrong, but I feel this is nothing but a dream.

All in all only 25K people protested this weekend. The optimists say people are gaining force for next week's :"1 million' protest.

Rightist and religious extremist groups all over the world do the fundamental work of teaching people their ideas from childhood, while liberals just try to convince adults on the rationality of their ideas - this is a lost war, or even better a battle who's results are clear to everyone beforehand. We should finally change the script according which we see and analyze our world. Consumerism isn't an ideology!

What's up this week:

  • The young physicians insist in resigning regardless of the agreement between the government and their trade union

  • The government is raising the taxes on gasoline

  • The students declared boycott on a major supermarkets firm, which responded by lowering its prices by 20%

  • The whole protest movement is making an effort to bring to the street '1 million' people on next Saturday's (Sept-3) evening.

  • There are rumors that this is going to be the gran-finale of the tents camps and that the protest will start reshaping

  • As we are getting closer  to the Palestinian's 'state recognition' in the UN, the social movement is in a greater risk of being 'forgotten' by the media and the political system.

  • Regardless of everything, people keep talking about having a better life, about not being poor when you work and get a salary, about the commitment of the state to its citizens and not only to its fiscal policy. Something has changed.

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Chronology of the Israeli protest – August 25

Today buses from all around the country carried protesters to Yeruham. Yeruham is a special place in the south of Israel. It's in the middle of the desert, suffers from the regular problems of any 10K people town that is far away from labor and finances centers.

1,500 people demonstrated in Yeruham supporting the tents camp started by a 16 years old leader.

We went to the tents camp in Rehovot, were people sat in a circle, read the demands phrased by the national movement. People from various social strata joined the circle and the discussion was lively and sharp. There were even a couple of guys from a misticism movement that tried to convince everyone that love among people is the most important thing and we shouldn't handle with demands form the government. A couple of researchers from a social think tank closed the evening with a long discussion into possible models of societies and their suggestion on focusing in investing resources in community and youth development on neighborhoods level.

In the past week the government got another 'gift'. A star celebrity who is a judge in the local version of 'American Idol' got arrested for alleged relations with the organized crime. A whole week that all the newspapers filled their headlines with this stuff instead of the important things, the social movement that still kicks and bites.

Though, the probably most serious problem faced by the protest till now was the demand of the leaders who grew from the tent camps themselves, to take part in the leadership. This quickly became a challenge of the "old" leaders vs. the camps leaders vs. the periphery leaders. Some of the leaders were mad about the frontal attack against the government's committee (it seems people want to believe things can be changed by the government).  Eventually, it seems that the 'old leaders' were smart enough to make a place for new faces besides them.  I have a strong feeling that some of this demands were nurtured by government supporters in some of the camps in order to remove the 'leftists' leader of the movement. I say 'leftists' because I can personally attest that this isn't so - not everyone who wants social justice or a sane free market is a socialist or a dove.

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Chronology of the Israeli protest – August 20

On August 18 a terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border which was planned and launched from Gaza,  left 7 dead and dozens wounded and threw the media and public opinion into the 'security, Palestinians and more security' discourse. Israel responded to the attack killing the responsible militant leaders and as result the whole south of Israel was attacked by rockets from Gaza. Definitely not a good atmosphere for social protest.

The protest movement decided to change its regular plans and instead hold in Saturday (the regular day for big demonstration) a 'Silence March'. The idea was to achieve 2 things: 1. Maintain the protest and not stop it because of a 'security event'; 2. Make the demonstration different in order to pay respect to the dead and not to antagonize the public.

Over the last couple of weeks the government's 'committee for social economic change' started its discussions and interview of public representatives.This gave some credit to the government for trying to 'do something', mainly among people who aren't natural sympathizers of the the tents movement. The committee's head, Prof. Trachtenberg, is a very nice person but also a hardcore adherent of the current system - he declared changes are needed but that the state's budget won't be reopened. On top of this it isn't clear at all what the government will take from the committee's recomendations if any.  It seems the public isn't yet sure what to think about this.

The first tent dweller and uncrowned leader, Daphne Leef, demanded Prof. Trachtenberg to resign and boldly said that the committee is a farce aimed at dragging legs and await the protest to disintegrate. Some of the movement's participants, mainly the Students Union which is the strongest and best organized organization, oppose this aggressive approach of Leef. They have made public their disagreements, but at the same time declared they remain part of the protest movement and are committed to making a social and values change in the Israeli society.

Eventually about 15K people appeared to the 'Silent March' on Tel Aviv on August 20 - Saturday night as usual. It was a special event in many aspects. First of all a manifestation of silence, no music, no chants, no slogans crying. Second, some people in the street reacted against the protester with signs calling for free market or shouting that we are shameless protesting while people get killed. Eventually, these were about 5 individuals, but yet it was something new. Third and most important it's the first time that the society-wide tissue of this protest was challenged. The very minor-ton speeches were given by a settler, an Arab political leader, a girl from a Hamas bombed city in the Israeli south border and a combat pilot. Each voiced his own view and expectations of the protest. Needless to say there were some contradictions. However, both the speakers and the public who was sitting in circles in the grass managed to hold themselves and respect those different from them. A group of ultra-left lads didn't manage to hold themselves and chanted anti government slogans against the spirit of the event. They were hushed by the public.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chronology of the Israeli protest – August 17

August 17-18: I stayed the night in the main tents' camp in Tel Aviv.

I decided to do so as I felt that the protest was losing some momentum so I wanted to feel the vibe from within and I was sure that one more head to the count wouldn't be bad for sure.

I arrived around 20:00 and was impressed by the amount of people. There are several gathering places were meetings were taking places - in some of them were classes were given and in others there were round tables of experts debating and explaining economic, ideological, cultural and other aspects of the protest. In many other points in the camp people were sitting around talking, debating, getting a free massage or running a regular tents camp 'life'. Half a hour before I arrived there was a video conference with the tent dwellers in Puerta del Sol square in Madrid.

The sight of hundreds of people respectfully and politely debating into the night finances, economy, budget planning and society base-values is something to remember. This awareness won't die and won't fade, even when the tents won't be here anymore. Israelis were always opinionated, but the culture of street debates and finances-society oriented debates are new.

I could feel some tiredness comparing to the first days of the camp. The humidity and temperatures of the Israeli summer and the days passing by are taking their toll. However, when I started talking with people it was obvious that it's a 'tactical' weariness. The motivation for the protest is still there and even stronger. People know now that they aren't alone, that others think like them and that there is a wide public support for their demands.

At 24:00 I went to grab a slice of pizza. While I was eating and sweating outside of the pizzeria, three men in undershirts took a seat nearby and were passionately planning the next protest actions in a suburb of Tel Aviv - what is called here 'the neighborhoods' (the low and low-middle class neighborhoods). My guess is that they were followers of the ruling right wing party and one of the religious parties. They discussed how the ruling party activist in their places are trying to obstruct the protest and how they (the speakers) are successfully coordinating their actions with the protest leaders, though they insisted that they must be independent in taking new initiatives, since otherwise the protest can't succeed and if it fails the next chance to make a change will be in years.

I was generously hosted in the tents of the National Left movement. My neighbors for the night were 2 high school students, a graphic designer and its amazing puppy, a 50 years old women who was thrown of her house and 3 students. Everyone were looking for ideological discussion including the 60 years old man who joined us at 1:00am with a small bottle of beer to join with everyone. Each person had its own reasons to 'Attent', but they have formed a community, they know each others history, weaknesses, pains and even food preferences - much more than what I know about the neighbors of my rented apartment. I went to sleep at 3:00am, when everyone were still discussing the relation between state and religion.The others said they'll wake up for work at 7:00am, but I needed to wake earlier.

When I woke up for work at 5:45am, everyone were asleep, but the light was great for another round of photos. Enjoy!

Previous post on the chronology of the Israeli Social Protest

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

A photographed chronology of the Israeli social protest

In this post I will keep track and present to you an photographic timeline of the Israeli social protest events as I experience it. In category "Israel - j14" you will be able to find longer and more in depth thoughts.

August 27

August 25

August 20 

August 17

August 13

August 6

July 30

July 25 & 28

July 23

July 19

July 17

July 16


Chronology of the Israeli protest – August 13

August 13 - no central demonstration in Tel Aviv. People were called to attend demonstrations in other cities. 70K appeared in total, with many high profile artists performing.

A famous popular singer attacked the protestants during the week saying they have the political motivation of throwing over the prime minister and for being spoiled child that just complain for not having inherited an apartment in central Tel Aviv. Her comments caused fury and after 2 days she complained and even participated in August-13 protest.

The number of attendants in the 'periphery' cities wasn't a disappointment as it showed substantial support in numerous cities. On the other hand, it wasn't a head-counting achievement for relatively low number of participants that compering to the 300K of the previous week. In total, nothing that would move the government's coalition of rightist parties that seems rock solid at this point.

The protesters are aware that the more time passes, the bigger the chances are of losing momentum and getting the public distracted to other issues as the government would wish.


Chronology of the Israeli protest – August 6

Since the previous protest, the officials and ruling party chants changed somewhat but irritating comments that the protesters are "leftists" kept propelling the protest and brought in even more people. However, the biggest motivator was the bill passed by the government pushing towards further fast and uncontrolled privatization of of lands, in spite of the public outcry against it. August 6 was an amazing day. This demonstration was the biggest or 1 of the 2 biggest in the Israeli history. It was definitely the biggest regarding social issues. Over 250K demonstrators in Tel Aviv, 30K in Jerusalem and thousands in other cities. Jews and Arabs, Middle class and low class, everyone were in the streets. This means almost 5% of the Israeli population! The veteran social militant Charlie Biton declared in front of the crowds: "40 years passed...every year I awaited a new hope faded year by year and the government injustice my vision is materializing!" The demonstrations were exciting - everyone in the street talked about making history and that the government cannot keep ignoring people's demands. There were yet two problems: 1. The demands aren't clear. "The People Want Social Justice!" is a very broad demand if don't mean to change the whole system. 2. The government did barely nothing to tackle this demand till this manifestation. After this demonstrations the government set a committee of 14 members to recommend on actions to be taken. The public got divided between suspicion and endorsement. The government scored 2 points - first, dividing the public. second, gaining some time. The tents' movement leaders have gathered a committee of experts of their own and launched a camps-cross discussion about which demands should be presented. The cynics  use to say the government is awaiting Israel's neighbors (Palestinians or Hezbollah) to save the day by a terror attack which will distract the public attention. Others believe the government does intend to make some changes.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Chronology of the Israeli protest – July 30

The first demonstration was big, but the second one was huge and it already had siblings in many cities! It was the first one it was clear to everyone that not only 'leftists' were participating. The build up by the government was unbelievable - they kept claiming there is no real problem and that the protestants are a bunch of  leftists-sushi eaters-water pipe smoking spoiled Tel Aviv youngsters.

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Chronology of the Israeli protest – July 25 & 28

The tents camp in Rotschild boulevard keeps growing day by day. The government keeps trying to diminish the cry and claim the leaders of the protest are mere leftists wanting to throw the rightist government (which from personal knowledge I can tell you that's not exact). More and more tent camps are being set in other cities around the country (here in Rehovot). Daily street protests are being held - here in front of the government offices building in Tel Aviv.

The leaders (the first tent dwellers) keep standing for quite protest, do not demand government change and embrace a 'revolution of love'.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chronology of the Israeli protest – July 23

The first public protest was an important milestone to prove the public support for the case of social justice. This is also the moment where the cry "The people demands social justice" crystallized and became the movement's mantra. The 20-30 K people that attended were hard-core followers of civil organizations, and showed a wide and varied support. Read more here About July 23, 2011 protests


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Chronology of the Israeli protest - July 19

After 5 days only, it was obvious to everyone involved that something big and unexpected is occurring. More and more tents and people poured in and the media provided wide daily coverage. People out of central Tel Aviv-middle class-young-artist joined with their tents and various political and civil groups joined in too. Trade unions (physicians, social workers) and other joined too and their own protest converged into the great stream that was flowing from the center of Tel Aviv and most important the students union known for it's organizational and mobilization capabilities.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chronology of the Israeli protest - July 17

The tents camp rapidly grew to be an organized neighborhood. The dwellers banish people talking about violence and embrace the wish to be a protest of love.

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Chronology of the Israeli protest - July 16

After a partial success of the 'Cottage Protest', a young Israeli girl with a few friends placed a tent in the heart of Tel Aviv (July-14) protesting on the housing costs. Within days scores of tents joined the initial group of tents in Rotschild boulevard gaining public space and awarness.

July 16

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Prelude: Chronology of the Israeli Social Protest

For several years already the middle class wasn't happy - students protested randomly against inequality and government's coalition money transfers to small sectors. Protests were scattered.

November 1, 2001

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The summer of 2011 started with protests over the soaring prices of cheese and gasoline (image source: MSN Israel Business)

June 2011


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Music that makes me tremble

When the ideas aren't razor sharp, when you are too tired, music speaks for your soul. Like a little children walking in darkness - songs have a magical power to re-attach you to the emotional sources of your belief. When the brain wants to sleep, emotions can still stir your soul.

Yesterday night I went for a walk in the central tents camp in Tel Aviv. Later, at home I read quite a lot of opinions and reports about this amazing creature. Exhausted, I fall asleep before sunrise.

Today, I woke up a bit melancholic trying to come up with a sharp insight about how leftist ides relate to the current events worldwide - London is burning, masses being murdered in Syria, protests in Spain and Israel, falling stock markets and others.

I have many ideas which I'll try to present in a readable manner for you in the next days. However,  now I just have a strong urge to share with you three emotive songs which summarize for me leftist gut feelings, the deeper emotions that feed my more quotidian political views.

Later I will try to find a decent translation to English.

For Life - Leon Gieco

The Memory - Leon Gieco

Luis' Christmas - Mercedes Sosa & León Gieco

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The 300K Demonstration

It was amazing! Such an amount of people walking and chanting in good mood, wanting to do something good for their society and themselves is something really outstanding. 280K people in Tel Aviv, 30K in Jerusalem and thousands in other cities.

A quick calculation shows that almost 5% of the Israelis were demonstrating, or an even more striking number - about 10% of the tax payers.

The very broad coalition that fuels this movement seems intact at this point. It seems that while the momentum is kept the differences in the movement won't really damage it. An historical leader of a low class demonstrations gave a speech: "40 years I have been awaiting this moment...I was losing faith..." he said. He embraced the middle class leaders of this movement and cracked the governments chorus claiming this are all 'sushi protesters'.

It is enlightening to see that most of the Israeli public after all believes in a just society. A society where people are equal, where working people can live with dignity and where the poor and needed are being taken care by the state. Nobody really wants a social state, but people definitely cried for a welfare state. People believe that a competitive market and hard working can go hand by hand with a just and relatively equal society.

We, Israelis, were always proud that Israel has no poor people like in the 3rd world, that its streets are safe and people are easy going. Things have changed and the public, from all sectors, wants to get back 'their state', the one they knew before. It seems that there are very little economic right wing people in Israel. The tradition of Jewish caring for community and Zionist Socialism is still latent (economically speaking of course) - it seems that the civil studies classes in elementary school weren't in vain. People in the street were talking about financial problems in the USA - everyone are aware that something must change in the system, but without destroying it.

We want back our mutual guarantee, in which members of society are helping each other in case of need.

We want a country and society of which we'll be proud. A special place on earth. We want to make things differently. We want to fix our realm and make it exemplary.

Now, let's see how the politics turn out and translates the after shocks of this movement.

Another interesting point will be to see how the Arab citizens of Israel will react to this movement and to their participation in it. The Zionist zeal to build an exemplary society is something they'll have to react to and find their place - hopefully within the consensus. As to our neighbors, I hope that the message of having masses in the streets without anyone shooting them will resound all over the middle east.

Last but not least - do not make mistakes or assumptions. This is a pure social-economical movement. Any mentioning of the Israeli-Palestinian issue will tear it apart.  Things aren't disconnected, but it is hard to anticipate how this experience will influence the Israelis and their neighbors.

I promise to upload some pictures from the demonstration tomorrow morning. Now, I'm finally off to bed.



Where is the Israeli tents protest going to

Over the last week the Israeli tents movements saw the biggest raise in support. On one hand civil organizations like taxi drivers union, women of policemen, fragments of the teachers unions, the young physicians and the milk producers are just but a few of those who joined the movement. On the other hand, for the first time right wing and religious political organizations joined the tents' cities and left aside the arguments that "these are all leftists". Even the Arab sector which was till now cautious, not sure whether they'll be welcomed, joined the peaceful demonstrations.

Tent camps were set up in many new locations in new cities and in cities which already had camps. The police tried to remove some of these. However, SMSs and Facebook immediately brought reinforcements and made the police and municipalities to retreat. A judge that discussed the case of protesters that stopped the traffic in a street released them saying they should be praised and not arrested. The tents camps are voting on the demands list that should be presented to the government.

Juan says this is great. It's an inclusive movement and not an exclusive demonstration, thus making a bigger impact than the Spaniard Indignados movement, M-15. Indeed, we are about to experiment in Israel what would have happened if the Spanish movement had turned out differently.

So, if all looks good - why am I worried?

As more and more organizations are joining there are more people and interests to satisfy. The longer the protest takes the more chances there are that one of our neighbors will make a favor to the government and start with a new round of hostilities. Actually, this week several rockets were launched from Gaza to Israel, heating pretty close to the tents camp in the city of Ashkelon.

There aren't yet any clear demands from the government. Some of the leaders of tent camps started questioning the legitimacy of the leadership of the founders of the first camp in Tel Aviv. This is a gift for the government who's looking for any way to discredit and murk the leaders of the movement.

But on top of everything the main problem is that everyone speak about only one of the two main problems - the brutal capitalism imposed on Israel in the past 20 years.

Since everyone wants an inclusive movement, no one speaks about the fact that several sectors in the Israeli society do not share the burden carried by the low and middle classes. The Arab, Beduin and Ultra orthodox populations who make much more children than what they can support and live in chosen or imposed poverty (all have dedicated parties who take care of them), the settlers in Judea and Samaria who get big subsidies from the government. These are all complicated issues which are put aside right now. The low-middle class is demonstrating, demanding social justice - but social justice equals to money, and currently  the same low-middle class is the main tax payer in the country.

The overall problem is a matter of values - the western and capitalist values. People without knowing are opposed to the values of plain figures oriented capitalism. They support the value of men and women, their natural rights...but all these still can't be discussed. Something, I can't explain what, isn't mature yet.

The government means to keep using capitalist methods to tackle the situation - they have an hammer to they'll keep looking for nails to hit.... and the leaders of the movement keep saying 'we don't want to throw the government' and they don't have yet a defined list of demands.

Currently, it seems that the most important change this movement will do is throwing the Israelis back into the street, teaching them they can and should fight for their social and economical rights and not only for a secure survival in the tormentuous middle east. Let's hope this will teach people to be more critical and analyze the real problems, the failure of the existing political system and values.

Another Sabbath of Demonstrations

A week as passed since the last big demonstration.

In this week, the government used its sheer majority in the parliament allowing quick selling of lands without proper ecological or ethical checks. The protesters warned the government this will break the rules of the game. The government boldly ignored it.

Moreover, on one hand the prime minister kept saying the grievances are real, but insisted he'll resolve all the problems with the same tools that created them - more privatization, more capitalism. Government supporters from the ruling party called the protesters - "sushi eaters", leftists, drug addicts, "spoiled children", etc.

It seems that the government made the perfect build up towards today's demonstrations. Today, there will be only 3 central demonstrations as opposed to the 11 last week. The concentration, plus the fury caused by the government this week are expected to make the Tel Aviv one the biggest ever seen in Israel. Let's hope so.

I'll report as soon as we are back.



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Day the Revolution will Begin

Today morning the Israeli parliament is supposed to vote for a baaaaad law. In order to tackle the peaking housing prices, the government wants to intensify its capitalists practices and allow fast sales of public lands for construction with minimal checks and controls.
All the civil, demonstrating and ecologist, organizations strongly oppose this, knowing the lands will go to the rich who'll make more profits and will destroy public lands and green spaces.

All the organizations promised the government that if the bill is approved, all hell will break lose. This will be seen as a rules breaking move, and the demonstrators won't see themselves committed to any rules.

Now, let's await and see how stupid or blindly capitalist this government is?


Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 30 Demonstration - The Israeli Middle Class takes the streets

It's definitely getting interesting over here. The march and demonstration on Saturday's night was the biggest till now. Other demonstrations and rallies took place in all the main cities. The newspapers say 150K people were present. It is 2% of the Israeli population!

This time we could feel for the first time a significant presence of right wing people. They were there before, but this time is was very notable. As one of them told me - an executive in a software company: "at the beginning I thought it is an issue led by leftists in order to overthrow the right wing government. Now I understand it's a matter of all the people. You see, he continued - I would like an American economy - low taxes - but if I'm paying taxes so high here, I'd like at least to get the benefits of a welfare state".

Every Israeli was educated that the aim of our society is to do things differently, to be a just societey, to put the education in the center, to respect the old and poor. It seems now that the general conscience has awaken and it is pointing a finger towards the government - toward the system.

The leaders of this movement keep voicing vague demands, though obviously very costy: free education, free health care, accessible housing, abolition of outsourcing for low income salaries, better payment for teachers, policemen, fire-fighters, social workers, stopping the brutal privatization (for an instance of the education system) and turning back the wheel of stripping of the state's responsibility for social issues and entrusting it to private civil society associations.

What I am missing now, is the understanding of the people in the street that while they come to the government with material demands  they keep playing the game of money in which the government and the finances ministry bureaucrats are much better. On the other hand, the global system is capitalist, if the government will accept all the changes our economy will not probably gain points in the international market.

So, what is needed is a values' shift. A true commitment of government and citizens to make a  change. A change of values, of what's important, of commitment in our own behavior and thinking to bring the change.

The government in a democracy like ours is after all a mirror view of the public.

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Doubts in UK and USA: Two articles worth reading and contemplating

Food for thought. Not everything is comparable world wide, but it is certainly cheering  me up that people think, doubt and analyze.

UK, The Telegraph: I'm starting to think that the Left might actually be right

USA, The Wall Street Journal: Why Americans Are So Angry



Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why in English

We got several comments asking why are we writing in English, which is neither Jaun's nor mine mother tounge.

Well, that's a simple one. English is the current lingua franca and we'd like this evolving discussion to be available to as many people as possible. We believe the left has left people all over the world, and this is our way to communicate worldwide and try to break these boundaries.

We are still sad that this may make the texts unavailable to some Spanish and Hebrew speakers, but currently we don't have the resources to maintain this humble blog in more than one language.



The manifestations in Israel go on

The manifestation last Saturday was amazing. It's the first time ever that organizations of all different types combined effort.Yet, it was still a strong manifestation only in Tel Aviv and the organizations were center-left (from greens to communists).

The past week was amazing. It started with various protest movements joining forces: the tents people manifesting all over the country for the cost of life, the physicians, the students, the diary products cost protest, the fuel cost protest and political movements who made their best to assist without getting in the light spots.

The government made a great offer to the students organizations trying to neutralize them and maneuver them out of the manifestations. The physicians were threatened by a court decision, but they didn't turn back and threatened back with a collective resignation.

The government is pushing forward a move to privatize more public lands, promising this will ease the housing problem and bring down the prices. I knew immediately this was a manipulation - this obviously will make the rich people richer, will allow selling them more lands without any restrictions, because of the 'urgency' and eventually will further damage the general public interest. I was astonished by the fact that 'the street' understood it perfectly, and only the prime  minister and his greasers kept repeating their twisted version.

The central trade union stepped up to support the manifestations, and it's leader promised that he is not taking over the manifestations but joining it and will use all its power to help complying with the cry: "The people want social justice!"

Nobody is sure where is this heading. The change requested by the people is very big. Actually, people are asking for a welfare country, while in the past 20 years Israel has decisively moved to a ultra capitalist economy, leaving behind a shredded society.  The right wing masses are still a bit reluctant to join because of the government propaganda. If they would just come once and see with their own eyes and see that the people in the tents represent the whole Israeli society they'll change their mind and understand once and for all that this government is lying.

Today, we expect big manifestations in all the major cities: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and others.  I will report once I'm back home.

No housing!




Saturday, July 23, 2011

Not everything is about money

In our previous post we suspected that Marx may have been right and people would hit the streets only, when the cause regards their direct economical interest.

However, we also noted that many people many times, do not mobilize even when it is in their direct economical interest. For that we can assume a few reasons:

  1. They are lazy or the economical pain isn't strong enough

  2. They do not analyze correctly what's their economical interest

  3. They do not identify with the groups that are trying to represent their interests

  4. Or...their interest isn't just material-economical. They are after something additional or there are interests that subdues material considerations.

What is left and what is right

The common understanding of what's left and what's right is the European one. Leftists are expected to be tending to liberalism, dovish and support welfare-state/socialism while rightists are expected to be tending to religion/tradition or conservatism, hawkish and capitalism.

Well... sorry to be the one to tell you this: the world is a bit more complicated.

The 20th century exhibited leftists who were terrorists more than liberals, rightist who were more populists than capitalists, as well as other numerous variations.

So, when we will be discussing the left and right in a certain realm or country, it must be understood in its respective context. If you'd like us to elaborate on something, please post a comment under the related post.

In the context of our previous post, when the government in Israel is trying to denounce something or someone as leftist, it means to point out dovish ideas mainly in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The Israeli left is commonly correlated with its affluent middle class and old elites holding social-democrat views, while the right is correlated with the popular and conservative masses and religious public. Leftist economical ideas were set aside by both right and left main parties while small parties in both left and right hold fractions of leftist economical ideas.

Argentine, is a different example. There are 2 main parties. One which would be a classical European left party, liberal-social democrat, but it is tainted as an upper-middle class only bastion. On the other hand, there is a populist party which has factions which brutally privatized the whole country when they ruled and other factions which are anti-American, anti-capitalist and affiliated to the left side of the South American political map (Chavez, Castro, etc.)

There are many other examples, but that's enough to illustrate our point.

When the middle class can't pay for its rent

In the past week, the Israeli public arena was rocked by a series of manifestations initially focused on the soaring rent costs. All started when the house owners of a young Tel Aviv professional decided to raise the rent, she  gave up the apartment, took a tent and with some friends placed it in the middle of one of the most posh boulevards. Day by day the tents kept duplicating as more and more people joined. Later, tents were set up also in other cities. They are still there and tonight a huge manifestation is planned.

The government and its supporters were quick to denounce them as leftists and spoilt youngsters who insist on living in the expensive center of Tel Aviv. From personal knowledge I can tell you that some of the guys there are definitely leftists, but many others including some of the leaders are right wing people, politically speaking. Anyway, as more people from outside of Tel Aviv joined the manifestations and set up tents in other cities, it started taking a clear shape of  a middle-lower class movement.

The Israeli middle class used to be pretty wide. There were little poor people. But the last 20, and mainly 10 years of brutal capitalism have made many of the young middle class frustrated. They acquired professions, they worked hard, but they are paying ever raising rents and buying an apartment is a distant dream. The costs of food, electricity, education, health and more or less everything else went up while salaries didn't.

The prevalent call within the tents' people is "the system doesn't work".

This post isn't meant to detail my opinion on the manifestation itself. I'd like to discuss here what bothers me most - is it only money that makes people go out and take the streets?

Till it was for money no one took the streets. When poorer people manifested, the middle class didn't join them.

This means, that even if the remedy was wrong, Marx was right about the root cause of everything - material/money.

Now, this doesn't explain why these manifestations, the biggest seen in years, still don't magnetize the masses. These masses which suffer from the same pains, don't join. Is it because they believe that they'll be able to beat the system and make it work for them? Is it because most of them already have a house and a mortgage and they are afraid that the value of their property will drop if the protesters will succeed?  So, is it all about the money after all?

Just to be honest with ourselves, we should consider that it is also because they are lazy or because they don't believe anything can be changed.

There is a chance that all of the above is correct. However, on top of it, it seems that the masses won't move unless they can see a clear alternative for which to manifest. The manifestations in Egypt succeeded, because their leaders were bold enough to mark one man, Mubarak. The risk was huge, because this left all Mubarak's supporters at home - but once they had a critical mass, nothing mattered anymore. The manifestations in Spain did absolutely the reverse, they went wide and unfocused.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Spanish "Revolution" and the "Arab Spring"

When the "Arab Spring" and the "Spanish Revolution" broke out in the Spring of 2011 I was skeptic and Juan was slightly optimistic. I claimed that there is no organization and leaders behind the Spanish manifestations and that I fear there may be non-democratic agendas who'll take over the Arab manifestations...Juan insisted in believing in the human spirit. It was a odd situation - our postures are commonly reverse.

From a distance of months, we cannot yet have a clear view over this historical events. The process isn't over yet.

What we know is that the youth in the Arab countries is still taking on the streets. Though, I believe that if what we fear will occur and some of the regimes that will eventually take over will be theocratic, it won't be a "Game Over" move.  Maybe, the masses will have to face a reality in which non-liberal religion practices do not provide them with solutions and nothing even near to their dreams...Maybe, this is the only path for humans. We always find it hard to learn from other societies' experience. Most of you have never felt the heat of the middle eastern summer, which comes after the spring. It's hot, very hot. I hope I am wrong and it'll get straight to the a mild and friendly winter.

The Spanish 'Revolution' was subdued by its own participants. It was prematurely killed by lack of  large scale organization, leadership and the taking over of extremists voices who left no place for  practical steps and for the masses to join in. There are still some neighborhood level committees, but I won't count of anything come out of it. Above all, we see here an example of the strength and elasticity of a liberal enough society and democratic enough political system. I think Juan will be able to share more about it.

Well, at least I had a good moment of laugh during the "Spanish Revolution" , when we got a peek at what will happen when geeks will take over.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="543" caption="Credits to @acampadasol"]When geeks take on the street [/caption]

You can enjoy the original version here. Monty Python - The Spanish Inquisition!