Roy Tov – August 10, 2011
The pictures attached to this article show Tel Aviv during the first days of August 2011. Massive protests have filled the Rabin Square (former “Malchei Yisrael Square”) and the nearby Rothschild Boulevard, where a tents city was created among the multitudes.
Similar protests can be seen these days also in Chile and Spain. All of them are related to social oppression and institutional injustice by local governments. However, the size of the protests in Tel Aviv is amazing. The protest during last Saturday night’s demonstration apparently reached the half million mark (proper Tel Aviv is home to less people, Gush Dan – its metropolitan area – has about a million and a half denizens). Moreover, it is probably the first mass-protest on social issues ever. The last time something similar was seen occurred in 1982, when hundreds of thousands of people rallied following the massacres in Lebanon’s Sabra and Chatila refugee camps. Prime Minister Menachem Begin succumbed to the protesters demand of opening a state commission of inquiry. Even President Yitzhak Navon sided with the protest.
The last protests are not an isolated event. Some time ago, I reported on wild protests following a sharp rise in the price of cottage cheese – a key ingredient in local cuisine – where I claimed the social protests would deteriorate to the extent of endangering the Israeli Administration. It seemed a bit exaggerated at the time, but less than two months later, we see the current tsunami of protests. Fukushima looks suddenly an appealing event to Netanyahu. Reality is simple: once the mental barrier forbidding protests against the government was broken, nothing could stop the tsunami. The comical cheese protests caused just that.
The current wave of protests is not related to cheese, but to housing. This is a painful topic in Israel, where tiny apartments cost lifelong mortgages that transform their takers into state-slaves . The protests were spurred following a Knesset vote approving the National Housing Committees Law, which places the authority for approving building projects in the hands of regional committees. The committees would be in the hands of the state and the large construction companies. This means no houses for the poor. In Israel roughly 80% of the people earn less than the average salary (this is possible due to the large difference between the highest and lowest salaries). An average salary is not enough for paying an average mortgage while eating on a daily base. In such a way, disguised slavery was introduced into the state through a back door.
For the first time in their history, Israeli citizens are saying in mass “no” to institutional oppression. In contrast to President Navon, it is worth noting that Shimon Peres - the actual president, who was defined by Rabin as an “indefatigable conspirator” had said nothing until now. He is busy sipping his high tea with the Turkish ambassador. People are of no concern.
Another person of interest is Ron Huldai, the city’s mayor. Main Israeli cities are administered by former high ranking military officers. Many of them occupy the municipalities and often they become mayors. Whenever they reach this last post, they keep it for eons. In Tel Aviv, two generals enter into this category: Shlomo “Chich” Lahat (1974-1993) and Ron Huldai (1998-present). The last is closely related to Aviem Sella, who recruited Jonathan Pollard to spy for Israel. This over-abundance of general doubling as mayors is not casual; the proper function of Israeli cities depends on proper communication channels with the IDF. Unlike Peres, he is unable to shut his mouth and listen. He claims the protests have a limited lifespan and will eventually come to an end, maybe through forced evacuations by the army. He has their phone number. Violence is in the air.
It is very difficult for me not to feel empathy towards the protesters, since also I am a protester against the same illegitimate entity. Yet, I also know the people on the street too well to let them escape this article with a good word. I have a few questions for them.
Fellow Tel Aviv denizens (I used to live on HaTkuma Street in Jaffa), you claim your houses are too expensive. You are right. But, you are well aware that the vast majority of these houses were built by underpaid Palestinians. Why didn’t you protest for the inhuman way your neighbors were treated by the construction companies? Your humanity is measured by the treatment you give to others; being kind just to your family is a form of racism.
Fellow Tel Aviv denizens, you claim your food is too expensive. Where were you when the IDF confiscated countless houses and fields from Palestinians, who were left with no means for generating food? I’ll tell you where you were: blockading the entrance of international humanitarian help to your victims. Do you understand what does this turn you into? “Miflatzot” is Hebrew for “monsters.”