The Tunisia effect: where next?

385 posts / 0 new
Last post
Joined: 9-06-09
May 23 2011 02:48

More on Morocco:

Rabat...Those who managed to assemble chanted "We want our rights, even if we are condemned to death," before fleeing down sidestreets in the face of charging policemen. Demonstrators also complained about the high cost of living and lack of jobs.
Dozens of members of the movement later attempted to regroup in front of parliament, but were again violently dispersed by police.
By sunset, activists had taken refuge inside the headquarters of the main labor union while a heavy police presence waited outside.
Activists also reported that police violently dispersed similar protest marches in the northern city of Tangiers and Agadir, in the south. Many were arrested and injured, but the movement did not have an official count....
While the movement in Morocco is not calling for abolishing the monarchy, it is for reducing its powers, strengthening the prime minister, reforming the judiciary and combatting the corruption they say is rife in the country.
On March 9, the king promised constitutional amendments to address many of these concerns and a handpicked committee is expected to present its recommendations in June.
As the committee deliberates, however, the government appears to have instituted a new zero tolerance policy for demonstrations, which previously had been allowed.
On May 15, an attempt to hold a rally outside the intelligence headquarters in a suburb of Rabat was violently dispersed, with at least one protest leader severely beaten.
An attempt on Friday to hold a protest over the expense of Rabat's prestigious Mawazine world music festival was also charged by police and dispersed.

Joined: 11-02-07
May 23 2011 10:02


In Fes, three leading members of the city's protest movement were in "very critical condition," said demonstrator Fathallah al-Hamdani. Injured were also reported in Tangier and elsewhere.


Protesters wanted to camp in front of the parliament in Rabat, but authorities were anxious to avoid a repeat of the events in Cairo earlier this year when protesters occupying Tahrir Square eventually helped to topple the government.

In major cities, police armed with batons and shields moved people off the streets wherever they gathered. Protesters broke off into smaller groups, often with police chasing behind.

One protest leader in Rabat who had already been beaten a week ago suffered severe concussion on Sunday, said protester Jalal Makhfi.

Some human rights activists were beaten in front of police headquarters where they had tried to win the release of 13 members of the AMDH human rights group, said Khadija Riyadi, another member of the group.

Demonstrators said police beat dozens in Casablanca...

Joined: 9-06-09
May 27 2011 16:09


Togo's government has ordered the indefinite closure of the country's largest university days after students started riots demanding better conditions and food.
Policemen and paramilitary guards patrolled the University of Lome campus on Friday. The university's vice chancellor says the rampaging protests began Wednesday and escalated Thursday on the campus in the capital of the tiny West African nation. Koffi Ahadzi Nonon says students damaged university property and tried to force others to join their protests at the university of some 12,000 students.
He says the students were upset about their food and about the introduction of a new curriculum for which they said they were not prepared.

Joined: 9-06-09
May 30 2011 03:39

Yemen again (though this might be called the "Mossos Effect").

Joined: 31-12-10
Jun 3 2011 18:23

Seems like there's a civil war brewing in Yemen between some of the tribes and the government.

Apparently the president was injured on an attack at his compound today. It's being blamed on the tribes.

There were also apparently huge demonstrations today after friday prayers.

Yemen seems to be something of a mess right now.

ocelot's picture
Joined: 15-11-09
Jun 3 2011 22:40

OK, this news about the rescheduling of the Bahrain Formula 1 race is significant. It's an opportunity to anarchists in the UK to make a symbolic, but meaningful intervention of solidarity into this process.

Bahrain is the other pole to Libya. Libya represents Western imperialism's attempt (clumsy and so far bungled) attempt to regain the initiative in this wave of revolt, through "hard power" intervention, in defence of material interests on one level (oil) and at another political (attempt to regain the appearance of dominance in the era of their decline). Bahrain was the blood price paid to the Saudis for the support of the Arab League for the intervention. A quid pro quo. The Saudis got to crush the Bahraini movement for the right of 90% of its population to throw off subjugation with the blessing (through silence) of the US and its Western allies.

This is common coin in today's Arab media. The traditional trope of the duplicity of the West is given new witness through the spectacle of the Libya - Bahrain double standard that is plain to all (at least in North Africa and the Middle East).

In this context, even token solidarity actions in support of the Bahrain struggle, have the potential to make a political difference.

Formula 1 is one of the most disgusting sports on the planet, the price for tickets for spectators is in the thousands, not the hundreds. It has the highest organic composition of capital of any sport, the manufacturers even get trophies, in recognition. Formula 1 is also, beneath it's carefully constructed guise of international or world sport, almost entirely a UK production. It is the private cash-cow of one UK "non-resident", and virtually all of the teams have their engineering in the UK.

This rescheduling of the Bahrain F1 race is a perfect storm. It represents everything that is sick and degenerate about both Bahrain and the UK. It also represents, thanks to their stupidity, a gift-horse in terms of international solidarity - a chance to defy/expose not only US-EU compliance with the Saudi line, but also to challenge the populist image in the bourgeois Arab media of western proles as gormless puppets of their state's media, and finally to intervene on the disruptive side of the sectarian composition of the Arabian peninsular and the Gulf region - that is on the minoritarian, Shi'ite side - in the Bahraini case, a minority distinct from the dominant Shia sect of Iran as well (contrary to ignorant or opportunistic Israeli/US propaganda).

Bahrain may not appear to be a big issue by the metrics of armchair generals who measure everything by weight of population and media coverage, but political judgement is based on awareness of the totality of interrelations and current processes. In that light I propose that this is a fault line worth attacking.

ludd's picture
Joined: 4-05-09
Jun 4 2011 02:13

Here's a report of brutal repression in Yemen. Warning, horrible pictures there:

Obama administration "condemned" Yemen repression. They say "several" people have been killed, while it's been hundreds, including children who were burned alive!

Joined: 9-06-09
Jun 4 2011 04:03

ocelot: Not quite sure what you're proposing here. Everyone go off to Bahrain and build burning barricades out of racing cars across the track ? I realise you can't be too specific, but I seriously can't see how those outside Bahrain can make a "meaningful intervention of solidarity ".

Formula One Is Criticized After Rescheduling Grand Prix in Bahrain
June 3rd.
Formula One’s ruling body was criticized by human-rights groups after rescheduling a race in Bahrain amid anti-government protests.....
“This decision reflects the spirit of reconciliation in Bahrain, which is evident from the strong support the race receives from the government and all major parties in Bahrain, including the largest opposition group,” the racing body said.
It said the move was a “means of helping to unite people.”
The race had been slated to open the season on March 13. Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa suspended it on Feb. 21, three days after five people were killed as police broke up demonstrations by activists seeking democratic changes. At least 30 people have died since the protests began, the Associated Press reported.
“It seems like a highly questionable decision by Formula One,” Joe Stork, the deputy director of the region for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a telephone interview.
Teams and drivers now have to make a decision “influenced by financial reasons and personal feelings,” Stork said.
Lost Money
Canceling the event would have cost Formula One, owned by London-based buyout firm CVC Capital Partners Ltd., the $40 million fee it charges Bahraini authorities, the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph reported March 15, citing series Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone.
Human-rights activists in Bahrain said they would use the publicity of the most-watched motor sport to show their discontent with the government.
“On the one hand, Formula One isn’t respecting human rights, but on the other, it’s a good chance for the people to express how they feel on television worldwide,” Mohamed Al- Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said from Manama, the capital.
On June 1, Bahrain lifted a state of emergency, warning in a statement carried by the official Bahrain News Agency against activities that could “affect security or harm the national peace and safety.”
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets as hundreds of protesters marched towards Pearl Square in Manama today following the funeral of an elderly woman who died yesterday from the effects of tear gas, Al-Maskati said.
Bahrain has hosted Formula One since 2004 at a $150 million racetrack in the desert south of Manama.

From here

ocelot's picture
Joined: 15-11-09
Jun 4 2011 11:01
Samotnaf wrote:
ocelot: Not quite sure what you're proposing here. Everyone go off to Bahrain and build burning barricades out of racing cars across the track ? I realise you can't be too specific, but I seriously can't see how those outside Bahrain can make a "meaningful intervention of solidarity ".

No I wasn't suggesting anyone travel to Bahrain. I was pointing out that appropriate foci were available a few tube stops away for Londoners, for e.g.

Contact & Company details

Our contact details are as follows:
Postal address:, Formula One Management Ltd, 6 Princes Gate, Knightsbridge, London. SW7 1QJ. England.
Email: Due to the extremely high volume of traffic we receive, we regret to inform you that we are unable to respond to emails which are not specifically related to the two categories below:
For business enquiries, click here .
For editorial enquiries, click here .
Company details: 'FORMULA ONE MANAGEMENT LIMITED' is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 01545332 and with a registered office as above. VAT number: 391582332

from here

from the same page:

Formula One Management Limited ('FOM') is a wholly owned subsidiary of Formula One World Championship Limited ('FOWC') and acts as its agent and business manager and together with Formula One Licensing BV and Formula One Administration Limited, these companies form the Formula One group of companies ('Formula One Group').

The parent company of FOM, FOWC is also registered at 6 Princes Gate:

Company Number: 04174493
Company Address: 6 PRINCES GATE
Company Type: Private Limited Company
Company Status: Active

from here

So the immediate companies are handily located in central(ish) London. Above that level we get into a Jersey tax haven:

The Formula One Group is a group of companies responsible for the promotion of the FIA Formula One World Championship and exploitation of the sport's commercial rights.[1] The Group is owned ultimately by Delta Topco, a Jersey–based company owned by CVC Capital Partners' funds (approximately 70%) and JPMorgan (approximately 20%). Bernie Ecclestone's family trust owns the remainder apart from small shares held by financial advisers and Ecclestone himself.[2]

"Formula One Group" strictly refers to Formula One Management, Formula One Administration and Formula One Licensing BV,[3] which are subsidiaries of the Formula One Holdings holding company. However Delta Topco owns other Formula One businesses which are referred to in the same way.

from WP

And Bernie "Hitler got bad press" Ecclestone is also London based, but of course he'll be in Bahrain at the time of the race.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jun 10 2011 03:30

Bahrain Grand Prix cancelled.

Joined: 28-10-09
Jun 17 2011 11:28

Hungary, Clown revolution...

Joined: 9-06-09
Jun 29 2011 22:36
DAKAR, Senegal — Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Senegal’s capital to protest frequent power cuts.
Angry mobs attacked and destroyed government buildings across the city Monday, including the national electricity company’s offices. In some parts of Dakar, people claim they now go regularly without electricity for 24 hours or more.
Riot police fought back in some areas with tear gas and water cannons.


Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 9 2011 16:25
Malaysia Protests: Over 1,400 Arrested During Demonstrations
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian police fired repeated rounds of tear gas and detained over 1,400 people in the capital on Saturday as thousands of activists evaded roadblocks and barbed wire to hold a street protest against Prime Minister Najib Razak's government.

- here.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 15 2011 07:42
Iraq drafts harsh anti-protest law as Baghdad gets Tahrir Square movement
In a July 13 statement, Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to revise a draft law it said would limit freedom of assembly and expression, in contravention both of international standards and Iraq's own constitution. The bill contains provisions that would curtail the right to protest hold demonstrations that are seen to violate the "public interest" or the "general order or public morals"—without providing any definition of those terms. Those provisions, as well as the proposed criminalization of speech that "insults" a "sacred" symbol or person, clearly violate international law, Human Rights Watch said. “This law will undermine Iraqis’ right to demonstrate and express themselves freely,” the watchdog’s deputy Middle East director, Joe Stork, said. (AFP, HRW, July 13)
The proposed law comes just as opposition groups have launched a campaign of Friday protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square to demand the ouster of Prime Minister Nuri Maliki. At least seven protesters were arrested and beaten by Iraqi security forces as hundreds of angry demonstrators gathered last Friday July 8 in the capital's central square. Protesters chanted: "Friday after Friday until we get rid of al-Maliki," referring to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. (CNN, July 8)

Joined: 29-07-05
Jul 15 2011 12:42

The working class in Senegal has a long and noble history in the class struggle, including self-organisation and extension in extremely difficult circumstances and as a part of the global revolutionary wave following World War One, including here joint struggles with European workers and mutinies.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 16 2011 02:51
Chile student riots get out of control
SANTIAGO: At least 32 officers were wounded and 54 demonstrators were arrested here Thursday in a mass protest demanding more funds for public education, police said. Riot police used water cannons and fired tear gas to disperse the tens of thousands of demonstrators, who fought back by hurling rocks, sticks, and plastic bottles filled with paint. Santiago Police Chief Sergio Gajardo told reporters that 32 officers were wounded "as a result of the extremely violent actions that took place at the end of the march.
A police spokesperson separately told AFP that 54 protesters had been arrested. One of the officers, who was guarding the nearby Brazilian embassy, was seriously burned when an "incendiary artifact" burst on his shield and burning liquid spilled onto his legs, Gajardo said. Officials said that some 30,000 people joined the march down La Alameda, a main downtown thoroughfare, though organizers said the number was closer to 80,000, the same number that marched in similar demonstrations on June 14 and June 30.
The protesters-students, teachers, parents and children-swarmed several blocks of the avenue in a noisy, festive and colorful protest. The clash began when police moved in to stop the crowd from turning towards the Palacio de la Moneda, the presidential palace, where unlike the previous times organizers did not have a permit to demonstrate. "They are playing with fire. That march was not authorized," Deputy Interior Minister Rodrigo Ubilla told reporters.
"The students must understand that the street is not theirs," added Ena von Baer, a spokeswoman for President Sebastian Pinera. Students want the national government to take over the public school system, where 90 percent of the country's 3.5 million students are educated. The nationwide school system was broken up during the 1973-1990 military regime and handed over to municipal authorities. Protesters say the current system results in deep inequalities and is underfunded.
Protests have been mounting since Pinera, the first center-right president to govern Chile since the country returned to democracy in 1990, earlier in the year announced wide-ranging education spending cuts. Pinera has said the cuts are needed to trim the government's bloated bureaucracy, even as the country's economy is experiencing a six percent annual growth rate.
The government currently dedicates 4.4 percent of the country's gross national product to education, far below the seven percent recommended by UNESCO. The demonstration comes 10 days after Pinera proposed a "grand accord" that includes a $4 billion fund, but no systemic reform. In the June 30 protest, 13 people were detained and one police officer wounded.

Entdinglichung's picture
Joined: 2-07-08
Jul 16 2011 15:00

Algeria. Assassination attempt on SNAPAP leader Rachid Malaoui fails

Yesterday evening, 15th of July, an assassination attempt on Rachid Malaoui was foiled when the sabotaged brakes of his vehicle were discovered by chance. Chairman of the independent union of public service employees and human rights activist, friends now fear for his life. Brutally assaulted during a demonstration in Algiers on February 19, requiring hospitalization, Rachid Malaoui is also victim of a travel ban plot, preventing him from building solidarity with European and international trade unions. SNAPAP is one of the most active organizations in Algeria gathering the sympathy of unemployed and private sector workers who find it's action more adapted to their needs than that of the monopolistic UGTA. Last nights act sparks fears that the Algerian government, inspired by embattled "democratic transition" in neighbouring countries including Libya and Syria, might abandon constrained reforms in favor of stepped-up repression of the movement for social change.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 21 2011 02:15

Don't know if it is appropriate to use this as a catch-all for political protests that turn into more social forms of contestation, but didn't think it was worth putting this up as a separate news item (same with a lot of my previous posts on this thread):

Death toll in Malawi riots rises to 6
Death toll from the riots on Wednesday in Malawi rises to 6 as local media Joy Radio of Malawi reported another 2 died in the southern commercial city of Blantyre during the chaotic event.
Four people were previously reported dead following the riots that ensued in the cities of Malawi following the police's failure to contain the situation where protesters vandalized shops, offices and vehicles.
The violence ensued following an eleventh-hour court injunction obtained by one lawyer at 1 a.m. local time on Wednesday stopping the nationwide peaceful demonstrations organized by the civil society and the opposition parties in protest of President Mutharika's leadership.
The court order was issued despite the fact that President Mutharika had given a go ahead to the event on Monday.
The situation got out of hand when the police, following the court order, tried to stop the march.
It all started in Mzuzu, a city up north where, according to the local media, protesters overpowered the police and went on rampage and set ablaze the ruling party's vehicle, vandalized the party's offices and tore off all President Mutharika's billboards in the city.
A local radio, Zodiak, confirmed death of four people in Mzuzu city while unconfirmed reports indicated one death in the capital following police shootout.
In Lilongwe violence took root from early in the morning as the civil society and the opposition officials were negotiating with the court to have the injunction lifted.
The local media reports said one of the civil society leaders, Undule Mwakasungula, and a dozen local journalists were severely beaten by police while elsewhere in the city protesters overpowered the police, looted and vandalized banks, offices and shops.
Included on the list of the vandalized structures in Lilongwe and Blantyre are police vehicles and houses and ruling party officials' property.

In Zomba, however, the march was conducted peacefully and the police are reported to have handled the situation professionally.
Meanwhile, the protestors in all the Blantyre and Lilongwe succeed in presenting their petition to the authorities following the lifting of the injunction late in the afternoon.
Among other things the protestors are calling upon President Mutharika to address issues of critical shortage of fuel, forex, and poor governance.
As the riots carried the day throughout the country, elsewhere at State House in the capital, President Mutharika was presenting a public lecture on issues of sovereignty, political independence, forex, good governance and human rights, where he emphasized that Malawi will never dance to the donors' tune.

And more:

Troops were deployed in the southern African country’s commercial capital, Blantyre, and police fired tear gas at protesters who had gathered outside the stock exchange in defiance of a court order banning protests in Malawi, according to Reuters.
In Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, protesters burnt cars, offices and shops belonging to politicians from Mutharika's ruling Democratic Progressive Party and their allies, Reuters says. In the northern city of Mzuzu, demonstrators ransacked the DPP’s offices.....
Malawi is a landlocked nation sandwiched between Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, and is heavily reliant on foreign aid. The country relies on handouts for 40 percent of its budget.
Mutharika, a former World Bank economist, was first elected in 2004, but recently has been embroiled in a diplomatic spat with Britain, Malawi’s biggest aid donor, over a leaked embassy cable that referred to him as "autocratic and intolerant of criticism.”
Mutharika's recent policies have included a ban on publications deemed "contrary to the public interest,” AFP says.
Malawi ejected Britain’s ambassador in Lilongwe over the leaked cable, and in response Britain kicked out Malawi’s representative in London and suspended aid worth $550 million over the next four years, Reuters says.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 21 2011 04:50

For more information on Malawi, and a lot of moralising and nauseating liberal crap, see this Amnesty International report.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 22 2011 03:08

More on Malawi (doesn't say much except that rioting and looting continued yesterday):

Malawi president calls for clam amid continued riots
July 22, 2011
Malawi President Bingu Mutharika on Thursday appealed to the opposition and civil society organizations to come forward for a dialogue rather than going into the streets.
The president made the remarks during his State of the Nation Address on Thursday afternoon, as more riots were seen in the capital Lilongwe where more shops were looted.
In the address beamed on the state controlled broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Mutharika condemned the Wednesday riots where property, houses, vehicles and lives were lost.
He said it was very sad that some innocent people lost their lives.
"I know all the perpetrators of yesterday's riots and as the state president of this country I have the responsibility of bringing them to book," he said.
"It would be better if the opposition and the civil society organizations came forward for a dialogue," he added.
Mutharika accused the opposition and the civil society organization leaders of fuelling the riots by hiring the rioters to cause havoc in the cities.
Riots continued Thursday in many parts of the country. Uniformed and heavily armed Malawi Defense Force officers could be spotted in some locations where the riots were evident.
President Mutharika is expected to respond to the petition delivered Wednesday by the civil society organizations and the opposition through the city and town councils.
Local media quoted the country's health ministry as saying that nine people have died in Wednesday's riots among whom were two police officers killed in Mzuzu city by angry protesters.
The civil society in Malawi had planned to take to the streets in peaceful protest against what they call economic hardships and was granted by Mutharika on Monday. However a court injunction obtained by a lawyer early Wednesday denied the legitimacy of the demonstration.
Protesters rushed into streets in major cities early in the morning on Wednesday and clashed with police.
The injunction was lifted Wednesday afternoon when all demonstrators successfully presented their petitions to the president. However, the riots carried on Thursday when demonstrations became robbery and other forms of violence.
ZODIAK, a Malawi local radio said civil society organizations have called on the nation to be calm and the Malawi police has described the behavior of some misguided demonstrators as barbaric and condemned such acts in its strongest terms.

Joined: 11-02-07
Jul 22 2011 09:29


Israeli consumers, frustrated after years of spiralling food and housing prices, burst on to the streets of Tel Aviv this week with a popular protest that has transformed one of the city's smartest neighbourhoods into a hippie-style campsite.

Students and other demonstrators pitched hundreds of tents along Rothschild Boulevard, more famous for its Unesco-protected Bauhaus-style architecture and European-style cafes, to protest about rising prices that they claim are forcing young people out of the city.

The organisers are demanding government action to calm the inflated housing market that has seen rents rise in Tel Aviv by more than 60 per cent in four years. Protestors have also starting camping out in Jerusalem with other tent cities springing up from Beersheba in the south to Haifa and Kiryat Shemona in the north.

News of the protests spread through social media, echoing a successful Facebook campaign last month when consumers forced down the spiralling price of dairy products.

Critics have accused the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being in thrall to a handful of economic oligarchs who effectively control much of Israel's economy.

"The Israeli public – in all fields – is captive to forces with narrow interests," said an editorial in the daily Maariv newspaper.

In Jerusalem, 40 demonstrators occupied the garden of a home in the exclusive Kfar David neighbourhood. One focus of the protests is the large number of city-centre dwellings built for and bought by wealthy foreigners who leave them empty for most of the year.

A rally on Saturday near the Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv will be the first test of the movement's political muscle. "Israel's government continues to disappoint us, and we feel betrayed," said Daphni Leef, the founder of the protest movement. "The struggle is moving on to the next level. We call on all the tent cities to arrive at Habima Square for a rally that will make the upper echelon shake."

"It's our nation, and it's time to give it back to the people," she added.

Israelis earn on average about 100,000 shekels (£18,000) a year and spend between a half and one-third of their salaries on housing. Food and other costs have also spiralled in recent years, making Tel Aviv the most expensive city in the Middle East.

Many politicians visited the tent cities to show support for the protest but were turned away. Police intervened after one demonstrator poured a bottle of beer over Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv.

Joined: 11-02-07
Jul 22 2011 09:58

More on the Israeli housing protests

For the past week, hundreds  of people have been gathering on the uppermost edge of the Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, close to the recently renovated national theatre plaza. Starting with a tiny group of friends who pitched their tents there in protest of Tel Aviv’s exorbitant rent prices, the movement has grown exponentially, both on the original protest site – every day, several more tents spring up as more and more people move in – and throughout the country. Camps have been struck not only in the big cities – Jerusalem, Haifa and Be’er Sheva – but in the forever-struggling border town of Kiryat Shmona, the tiny community of Tel Hai, and elsewhere.

The protest has struck a chord with hundreds, if not thousands, of Israelis. My generation (people in their late 20’s) constitute the first, second or third generation of complete indebtedness. Most of our parents bought the homes we grew up in with mortgages, taken out before we were born and still unreturned. Those of us planning to buy homes and raise families are likely to become similarly enslaved to the banking system, because very few of us are likely to make enough money by the time we are, say, 30, to actually buy a home ourselves – even in the most remote and punishing suburb.

Moreover, Israel’s extremely lax credit rules and remorseless credit card spending culture means most Israeli households are regularly overdrawn on their bank accounts; I know that most of my friends – educated young professionals, many working for top media organisations, academia, the arts, or even high-tech – usually hold their head above the zero line in their bank accounts for the first week or two of every month. Many of those who can boast a positive balance in their running accounts are thousands, if not tens of thousands of shekels in debt – whenever you go above, say, NIS 10k in your running account or get about NIS 5k overdrawn, despite earning well enough, you get a call from an extremely nice banker who offers you a 20 or 30k loan, spread out over several lifetimes with an intimidating interest rate. Accumulating the hundreds of thousands of shekels requested to buy a modest young family flat in said suburbia is therefore out of the question for most of us, and most of us, indeed, gave up on the idea long ago.

But what’s pushing people now onto the street is nothing as fanciful as one’s own property; it’s the rent and overall living costs. Mercer ranked Tel Aviv as the most expensive city in the Middle East already three years ago, and since then rent prices have been soaring. According to Ynet, since 2008, rent in Tel Aviv has risen by at between 17 and 20 percent; in Be’er Sheva, by 40 percent. Jerusalem, with its expansionist construction and the municipality’s subsidies scheme, was affected far less, but the cost of living anywhere within easy access to university campuses or middle-class working places is still preposterously high. I myself hardly know anyone in my peer group, in either of the big cities, who spends less than 40 to 50 percent of their mean income on rent if they live alone, and about 30 percent if they share with flatmates.

I’m typing this at the protest camp on Rothschild Boulevard (aptly renamed by a makeshift sign “If I Were a Rothschild” Boulevard). The scene is at once warm (26c) and chaotic; a motley crowd of starry-eyed young people with signs proclaiming their support love for everyone wander among the tents; someone is grilling meat; someone else is preaching vegetarianism; a bit off, a busker with a rusty saxophone and a young girl engage in some Billy Holidayesque music making; playgrounds and playpens for the young children have been sprung up; the boulevard’s regular chess club has seen an utter explosion of membership.

At the site where the protest started, the very top of the boulevard, the protesters are trying to hold a popular assembly. They are using the by-now universal heckling-free language – twist your palms instead of applauding loudly, raise blocked arms to signal you disagree, make a rolling motion with both hands if you want the speaker to get on with it. In the crowd are members of Zionist youth movements, Israeli Palestinians, proud LGBT activists and ultra-Orthodox from Bnei Brak.

One of the speakers says the discussion will deal with the question of whether the protest should stay focused on the rent issue or tackle the issues that cause the rent to rise. As a first step, he asks the assembly’s approval: Shall we hold this discussion now, or postpone it until tomorrow? A quick and passionate discussion of whether to hold a discussion erupts, but people quickly catch up with the recursion and vote, in a blurry forest of twisting palms, to hold the discussion. Various strategies are proposed, stories are told, poems are read, and the facilitators move the discussion along quickly, pleading with people to make constructive propositions but never shutting anybody up, barring time constraints. The entire thing feels, strangely, organic, open-ended, and effective; the recurring theme is not just the rent, but that the whole system is rotten, the parliament is out of touch, the ministers are unrepresentative, the sovereign people has very little idea of how and by whom fateful decisions are actually being made.

There have been three major criticisms of the protest from the left: That it insists calling itself apolitical; that it’s unfocused; and that it wouldn’t touch the occupation issue with a stick. Each of these charges merit a separate post...

Does anyone who knows more about Israel than me have any thoughts on this? Tojiah?

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 22 2011 12:26

More about this in Ha'aretz, Wed, 20 Jul 2011

Tent protests spread in Israel as far north as Lebanese border
The protest against high housing costs spread yesterday to additional cities, with local residents coming out in support of the mostly young protesters. Tents went up yesterday in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona.
The first protest in the Arab sector appeared yesterday, with a single tent outside of Tamra in Western Galilee.
Tents are also expected to go up today at Beit Berl College near Kfar Sava.
The protesters who spent the night in 10 tents near the Kfar Sava municipality, woke up yesterday morning to find the media waiting for them, but later on, local residents began to stop by. "People in their 50s, 60s and 70s are taking part in the protest," said Merav Raymond, 24, who organized the "tent city" protest in Kfar Sava.
Tents are expected to go up today at Beit Berl College, where students are fighting the rising cost of dorm rental. Chen Sharabi-Cohen, 31, a student of public administration at Beit Berl College, who had also spent time at Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard protest site, said: "We've had it; I'm living with my parents because I have nowhere else to live," he said.
Two-year-old Romi Shapira was running around among the tents. Her father, Shahar Shapira, came from nearby Hod Hasharon, where he said a tent protest would be starting soon.
"There are a lot of couples like us, with one or two children, who are struggling with living expenses... There's the term nouveau riche; well, we're the nouveau poor" - educated, intelligent, contributing to the state and still living like poor people," he said.
Muhammed Abu-Alhija, 25, a bachelor and informal educator, put up a tent at the entrance to the Western Galilee town of Tamra.
"We young Arabs also have to make our voice heard," he said. "I hope my cry will bring more and more young couples to support the struggle," he said.
According to a survey by the databank Rikaz, established by the NGO Galilee Society, half of the 55.2 percent of Arab families in Israel that will need housing in the coming decade, will will not be able to afford a place to live.
The group's director general, Baker Awawdy, said the situation in Arab communities is a lot worse because of the high percentage of poor people and lack of land for building.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acceded to a demand yesterday by MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash ) to halve the size requirement regarding a minimal planned number of dwellings in the new bill to streamline housing construction, from 200 to 100. Netanyahu also agreed to change the requirement that at least 80 percent of the new dwellings had to be built on state-owned land. Under the amendment, construction can be on privately-owned land. The original requirements had, in practice, eliminated Arab towns from eligibility.
In Jerusalem, there was barely room yesterday afternoon for the 10 tents that were taking up the little patch of grass near the Old City wall opposite IDF Square. Still, a big sign called on passersby to "bring a tent and join."
"This is only the beginning," the chairman of the Hebrew University Student Union, Itai Gutler, said. "Rental prices are almost as high in Jerusalem as in Tel Aviv, which is absurd, because there's nowhere near the quality of life in Jerusalem," he said.
Jerusalem Councilwoman Merav Cohen, 27, one of the protest's organizers in the capital said: "There is a mixture of people and movements who are partners to the struggle." Cohen said the government should stop trying to maximize its profits on state lands and offer lower-cost housing to young people.
Tents also went up yesterday in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, About 100 students from Tel Hai Academic College set up some 25 tents in the city's IDF Square, and said they would stay for as long as it took to advance the fight for affordable housing.
A number of the town's long-time residents joined the students.
Protesters sat in a large circle on the ground throughout most of Monday evening, discussing possible solutions.
Student Union chairman Aviad Rosenfeld said the monthly salary a student earned in Kiryat Shmona was about what a month's rent cost. "On the one hand they tell you it's expensive in Tel Aviv, come study in the outlying areas, but when you get here you find out there's no public transportation, housing is expensive and its hard to find a job," he said. Kiryat Shmona Mayor Nissim Malka remarks to protesters at the site were greeted with applause. "It's important to me for students to live in Kiryat Shmona," Malka said. He pledged to move ahead housing solutions for young people. He said contractors were waiting to build in the city, but his hands were tied because the Israel Lands Administration was delaying things.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 23 2011 02:15

The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has issued a ban stopping all private radio stations from broadcasting live the demonstrations taking place in the country.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 23 2011 02:20

Not sure if this is appropriate here but.........

Chile Union Will 'Indefinitely' Extend Strike At Escondida
Published July 22, 2011

--Union votes to "indefinitely" extend strike at Escondida copper mine

--Minera Escondida to likely lose 3,000 metric tons of copper production every day workers are on strike

--Escondida is the world's largest copper mine

The largest union at Chile's Escondida copper mine voted to "indefinitely" extend a strike at the mine, which is controlled by global diversified miner BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP, BHP.AU), union leader Jose Vidal said Friday.

Members of 2,350-strong Escondida Mine Workers Union No. 1 "unanimously voted" to extend the work stoppage, which began Thursday night and was initially slated to end 24 hours later at 8 p.m. EDT on Friday, Vidal told Dow Jones Newswires.

Read more:

Tojiah's picture
Joined: 2-10-06
Jul 23 2011 06:39

I have nothing more to add about that, really. What I know through my friends is more or less what is up there. There are complaints that it's not political enough, praise that it's grass-roots, etc.

Another thing that I'm not sure if you're aware of is that the medical interns went on hunger strike, as well as checking in to emergency rooms complaining of exhaustion, thus crowding them and bringing many hospitals to a standstill over wages and conditions. Tunisia effect? I don't know. Sure does seem to be acting up over there, though.

Joined: 11-02-07
Jul 24 2011 10:09

After huge rally, social justice protesters block central streets Tel Aviv

Hundreds of protesters for social justice clashed with police in central Tel Aviv tonight under chants of revolution and signs reading “Mubarak. Assad. Netanyahu.” Some 42 people were arrested, a rare if not unprecedented number for a Tel Aviv demonstration on any issue.

After a huge turnout to a well-organized march (estimates vary between the 20 and the 40 thousand ), a clash began as the demonstrators were dispersing. Eyewitnesses said one person was detained, which prompted several dozen people to block the Kaplan-Ibn Gvirol intersection, a major junction in central Tel Aviv. The crowd quickly grew into hundreds, who camped out in the middle of the intersection, barricading it with barriers “borrowed” from nearby repair works. The crowd chanted slogans in favour of the police, pointing out they, too, can’t afford decent housing with their miserly salaries. Others spoke to policemen, encouraging them to fight for the right to unionise (which policemen in Israel are banned from by law). Eventually, police cleaned up the junction using selective arrests, mounted police and motorcycles. This assault was met with indignation by the crowd, who briefly lodged beer cans at the police, but the protesters quickly regained their composure and began singing pro-police and pro social justice slogans, punctuated with “Revolution! Revolution! Revolution” and “Non-violence! Non-violence!”. At one point, protesters went among the huge mounted police and offered them lollipops, which the policemen hesitatingly declined, pressing their hands to their hearts.

The protesters then attempted to march back up Dizengoff street to the nearest police station, in solidarity with their detained comrades. Police repeatedly blocked and gently thinned out the march, using very limited force and selective arrests, before the protesters eventually got tired and returned to camp. Many of the protesters were very clearly new to all this and did not have any background in demonstrations. For some of the ordinary Tel Avivis, this was clearly the first time they blocked a street in their lives...

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 24 2011 20:42

Interesting development, despite the obvious contradictions. Worth looking at Mark's link - leads to things like:

A sign that seemed ubiquitous said: “the market is free – are you?” Here were some others, signs and chants and slogans:

Danger, construction – for the rich
The answer to privatization? Revolution!

(my favourites)

and to this informative article:

Joined: 11-02-07
Jul 24 2011 23:27


Out of 43 activists arrested late Saturday night with the charge of “illegal gathering,” 32 signed agreed to conditions for their release which include banishment from the tent protest location on Rothschild Boulevard for 30 days and a prohibition from taking part in protests for that period. The remaining 11, all reportedly associated with Anarchists Against the Wall, have been banned from the area for 7 days, 1 being charged with assault and one being charged with throwing a smoke grenade at a police officer


According to reports from photographer Oren Ziv, who was at the protest and is now at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court, arrested protesters were separated into small groups, questioned and then 32 of them were released early morning on Sunday after signing extreme restrictions that include banishment from a large area surrounding Rothschild Boulevard (site of the tent protest) for 30 days, prohibition from attending future tent protests for 30 days and no contact with protest organizers (ridiculous as among those were protest organizers themselves). However, 11 protesters, all active in the Palestinian solidarity group Anarchists Against the Wall, were held overnight and were released this afternoon (14:00 Sunday) after signing conditions that they too are banned from central Tel Aviv and from attending the tent protests, but for 7 days.


Since those 11 held overnight all have police records from being arrested in the Occupied Territories, it is fair to assume the police gave them “special treatment” and allowed the 32 others to be released earlier…

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 25 2011 07:25

The attitude of the cops here seems strangely contradictory: though these anarchists were held in custody longer, they've only been banned from the tent cities for 7 days, as opposed to 30 days for the others. Anybody have any idea why?