- Ongoing since mid-July, Israeli street protests are unprecedented
in size, scope, and (so far) determination to stay the course for social
- Two previous articles discussed them, accessed through
the following links:
- What began as a Tel Aviv middle class protest for affordable
housing, mushroomed to include all segments of Israeli society (except
its super-rich) to include many other social justice issues.
- As a result, small protests became huge ones nationwide
in 11 cities. More on the largest ones below.
- At issue are the following grievances:
- (1) Along with America and Britain, Israel has the greatest
wealth disparity and social inequality among developed nations, causing
unemployment, poverty, hunger, homelessness, and eroding benefits.
- (2) Unaffordable housing, creating an intolerable burden
for growing numbers being priced out of a place to live.
- (3) High food and energy prices.
- (4) Low wages and eroding social benefits.
- (5) Onerous taxes on working households.
- (6) Lack of free education and better healthcare benefits.
- (7) Weak labor rights.
- (8) A disproportionate amount of construction funding
for settlement development, leaving too little to build affordable housing
- (9) Israel spends double the amount per settlement resident
compared to others Israelis. In fact, since the 1990s, it's been official
government policy to encourage population shifts to West Bank and East
Jerusalem locations, depriving most Israelis in the process. In addition,
Israel spends over $700 million annually on occupation, besides an inordinate
amount on defense at the expense of social needs.
- (10) The "high cost of raising children," the
common ignored complaint voiced by most Israelis.
- On August 8, four Haaretz writers headlined, "More
than 300,000 demonstrate across Israel to protest high cost of living,"
- From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to Haifa to Kiryat Shmona
to Modi'in to Hod Hasharon to Eilat and elsewhere, about 300,000 turned
out Saturday evening in a growing show of force and determination for social
- "An entire generation demands a future," and
"The people demand social justice," they chanted. They know what
they want and demand it, from Netanyahu or someone else if he refuses or
does too little.
- On August 7, Haaretz writer Yair Ettinger headlined,
"Revolution picks up steam," saying:
- City elders nationwide "stood by as if they couldn't
believe" what was ongoing - unprecedented nonviolent determination
to end neoliberalism's chokehold on Israeli society. People rallied, shouting
"revolution," suggesting what's happening has legs.
- On August 7, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined, "The
miracle of the rebellion," saying:
- It erupted when least expected "from a generation
(raised) on idiotic game shows (with) no room for meaningful debate; on
the club sense, another wasteland (in) bars and cafes....(involving people)
raised (in) a school system (that failed them, and in) colleges and universities....turned
into grade stores; on media that brainwash (and) spread fear; and (with)
student unions" more concerned about "singers who perform on
Students' Day" than preparing young people for adult life.
- Participants include people "raised on materialism,
designer labels, trends and gadgets, (and) escapism, (comprised partly
of) drunks and druggies (who also became) racist and nationalist."
- Who'd have expected a revolutionary spirit from participants
never before imagining it, let alone rallying in solidarity for over three
weeks with a determination never before shown for social change.
- "The nothing generation....surprised us all."
Suddenly they discovered social justice and demand it. "It's nothing
short of a miracle," and suggests if possible in Israel, perhaps anywhere,
even in America where bread and circus distractions take top priority.
- Yet after years of quiescence, there it was, resonating
powerfully without letup, demanding what politicians won't do anywhere
without pressure too strong to contest, provided participants stay the
course, retain their energy and won't quit, come hell or high water.
- America's Media: Serving Power, not People
- The second above-linked article discussed how America's
media suppressed an event too important to dismiss, but they did. Except
for a few woefully inadequate print articles, virtually nothing's been
- It's what passes for journalism in America, especially
on issues relating to war and peace, corporate power and privilege, as
well as anything negative about Israel.
- New York Times writer Ethan Bonner missed the mark earlier.
The above link comments on his July 31 article, typical of how their writers
fall short. At best, they go so far and no further, omitting what's most
important to know. Readers have to go elsewhere to learn them.
- On August 6, Times writer Isabel Kershner outdid Bonner
in her article headlined, "Protests Grow in Israel, With 250,000 Marching,"
- In the largest protests so far (yet downplaying their
size, except for briefly mentioning 300,000 in her text), they "demonstrate(d)
against the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing...."
- She also briefly mentioned high taxes, food and gasoline,
a growing gap between rich and poor, and eroding social services with no
background, context, explanation, or analysis of what caused today's crisis
- It didn't arrive like "Topsy," the "Uncle
Tom's Cabin" slave girl, who when asked if she knew who made her said,
"I s'pect I (just) growed." Israel's crisis "growed"
over decades of social neglect before boiling over.
- Bonner's article was longer, yet inadequate. Kershner's
was woefully weak and short. In both, readers came away with no understanding
of longstanding Israeli social injustices. Nor were they given context
to understand them, or why they happened in the first place, what's most
important to know.
- Notably: Who gains? Who loses, to what degree, for what
purpose, and an explanation of the curse of neoliberal extremism, ravishing
all Western societies, Israel one of the most unequal.
- The best from Kershner was to say "Netanyahu announced
a series of measures late last month meant to alleviate the housing shortage.
The organizers dismissed them as insufficient," and who knows if he'll
even follow through.
- Politicians notoriously make promises they won't fulfill,
especially right-wing ones. Obama, in fact, broke every major promise he
made, yet too few Americans know it.
- Netanyahu offered to dialog with protest leaders through
senior officials without explaining that Israelis want action, not talk.
- In addition, Bonner and Kershner omitted a key issue
entirely - Israel's rage to develop settlements, disproportionately benefitting
residents in them at the expense of mainland social justice, besides stealing
Palestinian land, a topic America's media never mention.
- Neither writer discussed disproportionality, yet Israelis
prioritize it, wanting all of them treated equitably. It's why protests
began in the first place - over unaffordable housing, because settlement
development takes precedence over providing it.
- It's a policy protesters want changed, but don't expect
America's media to explain, including Times writers like Bonner, Kershner
and all others. They're paid to mislead, suppress, deceive and lie, not
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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