Israel/Palestine social protests

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Jul 26 2011 02:03
Israel/Palestine social protests

[admin: thread formerly titled 'Israelis take to the street, protesting rising prices!']

A video on the story from The Real News can be found here.

Here's an article on the story from The Independent:

Quote:
Young Israelis in tent-city protests over rising prices

By Matthew Kalman, in Jerusalem

Friday, 22 July 2011

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. [LOL!! grin]

Samotnaf
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Jul 26 2011 03:44

Though - in my opinion - it's fine to make a thread specifically about this, it should be pointed out that this has been covered, mainly by Mark, in The Tunisia Effect - from this post, put up 4 days ago, onwards. Probably you missed it.

Mark.
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Jul 26 2011 10:35

Haaretz: poll shows 87% of Israelis support housing protests

Netanyahu announces emergency housing plan

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Jul 26 2011 10:42

Wow, will be interesting to see how this plays out, both internally in Israel and with the movements going on just over the border.. I thought the second video about the Israelis and Sudanese migrants sleeping in the same tents was touching, racism in Israel is quite stark so it's definitely a good development..

Also thought the woman's (Inbal) comments in the first video were massively revealing about some of the obstacles the movement has to overcome.. saying that the middle class/ashkenazi are the most oppressed and the government only helps the weakest is just madness.

Like everywhere I guess, being middle-class just isn't what it used to be (i.e. a university degree and a while collar job doesn't mean you'll have anything serious to show for it in terms of pay, pensions, security etc). Those who would've been comfortable in the past aren't nearly as much now and this seems to come out in a variety of contradictory ways ("I went to university, why do I have to do low-paid unskilled work?", "We need unity against the government" "Everyone forgets about the white middle class, the weakest get everything" etc).

I got the feeling that this woman seemed to think that Safaradi Jews and migrants have jumped the 'natural' queue (the one she would've been at the front of). Obviously that sentiment has to go but in Israel it's particularly embedded, especially along ethnic lines.

Still a massively interesting development.. cheers for everyone who put thse videos up..

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Jul 26 2011 12:09

For whatever its worth, I've noticed a number of my more-or-less apolitical Israeli friends talking about this on Facebook, and its been nothing but glowingly positive.

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Jul 26 2011 18:00

Some of my facebook friends, the more radical leftist ones, are negative about the main Rothschild Boulevard protest, at least. The main complaint is the current unwillingness of the majority of them to connect with previous, mostly non-Jewish housing struggles.

Mark.
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Jul 26 2011 23:45

Update from the +972 site

Netanyahu’s “emergency solution” sends social justice protesters surging into the streets

Quote:
The prime minister’s speech galvanised the demonstrators, who set out on a series of protest actions across the country. Roads were blocked in Tel Aviv and in Haifa, and two protest camps previously demolished by Tel Aviv authorities were put up again, in Levinsky Park and in the Hatikva neighbourhood. Levinsky park is the largest public space of Tel Aviv’s migrant, illegals and refugees quarter, while the Hatikva neighbourhood is the quintessential Tel Aviv working class area and a Likud stronghold for many years. The mother-camp on Rothschild Boulevard sent out solidarity delegations of several hundred to both camps, emphasising all were part of the same struggle. Meanwhile, a Jewish and Palestinian joint camp was set up in the highly sectarian city of Akko, while on the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem the top leadership of Israel’s national Medical Association continued their hunger strike as they marched from their headquarters to the prime minister’s office.
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Jul 27 2011 00:11

See? I was just about to post that! I can vouch for the writer, he's somewhat liberal but you can trust his coverage.

Mark.
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Jul 27 2011 10:09

Anarkismo has a report here on Saturday's demo in Tel Aviv, along with recent AATW actions. I'm not sure it really adds much new about the housing protests though.

Mark.
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Jul 27 2011 21:33
Quote:
Arab residents set up tents Wednesday in the northern town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, thereby joining the nationwide public protest against skyrocketing housing prices in Israel. 

The activists, including the city's Public Committee and a local youth movement, were also protesting against the destruction of Arab homes and rise of land prices...

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4101149,00.html

Samotnaf
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Jul 28 2011 02:43

Epicure for the housing crisis?

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Jul 28 2011 17:27

I can't quite find a source for this in English, but an Israeli media watchdog noted that all the weekend newspapers (they come early over there), especially the business press, is calling for more progressive income tax, capital gains tax, etc. The Israeli bourgeoisie must be shitting their pants.

Mark.
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Jul 29 2011 11:14

+972: Housing struggle you didn’t hear about: The case of Kfar Shalem

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Jul 29 2011 18:31

Again, can't find a source for this in English, but the Finance and Internal Security Ministries have cut a deal, to be signed next week, raising the wages for starting policemen to NIS 7000 (~$2000). A clear move to strengthen the moral fibre of policemen (and maybe encouraging new recruits) in the face of rising social unrest.

(Link from Israel Broadcast Authority website)

Mark.
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Jul 29 2011 23:01
Quote:
Netanyahu does not have many cards left to play. His way out may be a war – and we should be ready for it, and reject it

Netanyahu’s magic hat is emptying quickly. Unlike his last term, he failed in buying the students for a few slices of plzza, and his attempt to preempt the “stroller protest” by parents, planned for today, was particularly pathetic: He offered to lower the bus fare of a parent with a stroller by 50%. The offer was received with appropriate derision. The fact that the leader of the trade unions, lackluster Ofer Eynee, joined the protest belatedly, and the jump-on-band-wagon manouver by Tzippi Livni – she was seen marching with the striking doctors today, after a silence longer than that of Ehud Barak – must have made Netanyahu sweat even more.

I’m hearing from several quarters that Netanyahu has only two rabbits left in his hat. One of them is the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, who has become a sort of celebrity in Israel. It’s not at all clear this will end the protests, and the manouver becomes complicated because it requires the agreement of Hamas, which, for its own part, is in no rush….

The other rabbit is going to a splendid little war. Or, if not a full-fledged war, a massive operation which looks just like the real thing. This schtick rarely fails. Israeli air force planes circled over Gaza last night, and in general the IDF seems to be heating the Gaza sector in the last few weeks. And if we’ve already mentioned Ehud Barak, then it’s worth noting he flew again to the US last night, for another meeting with the American leadership. What for?

I don’t know. I do know, however, that security officials in the north have received an official warning from the government (Hebrew) that September is going to be hot. Possibly a war, possibly against the Palestinians, possibly against the Israeli Palestinians, possibly against Hizbullah…

http://972mag.com/in-case-of-a-war-we-should-resist/

Samotnaf
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Jul 30 2011 03:34

If there's a war, I'd have thought the reasoning behind it would certainly not just be the tent city protests by any means: it'd be part of the global rulers' strategy to divert attention away from class conflict generally, and from the global austerity/social control etc. attacks that the rulers are inflicting on us everywhere. Plus a way of destroying fixed capital and regenerate the economy. Doubt that this war will be a small one: over the next year or sooner it could go nuclear - though bit by bit they'd have to build up the propaganda war, eg about the atrocities of the opponents (how the sides line up is another question) to justify this.

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Jul 30 2011 03:45
Samotnaf wrote:
If there's a war, I'd have thought the reasoning behind it would certainly not just be the tent city protests by any means: it'd be part of the global rulers' strategy to divert attention away from class conflict generally, and from the global austerity/social control etc. attacks that the rulers are inflicting on us everywhere. Plus a way of destroying fixed capital and regenerate the economy. Doubt that this war will be a small one: over the next year or sooner it could go nuclear - though bit by bit they'd have to build up the propaganda war, eg about the atrocities of the opponents (how the sides line up is another question) to justify this.

So... there would be war between Israel and Lebanon, say, to divert the attention of the Thai working class from austerity measures? I don't really understand your reasoning here.

Samotnaf
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Jul 30 2011 04:00

Amongst loads of discussions over the past months or more, the possibility of a world war or at least something very significant in terms of war has been constantly brought up as a way of diverting the class struggle (your use of the Thai example belittles my comment, since obviously Thailand so far has not had any significant global influence). And I'm not talking about one with Lebanon - Iran is more likely. Or somewhere else. And maybe it'll build up over a longer period than I've suggested, but it's definitely a serious option for the ruling class. Is that hard to understand?

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Jul 30 2011 04:28

Okay, fine, do you think it will divert the Chinese working class if there's a war between Israel and Iran?

What is hard for me to understand is where you get this idea that world leaders are even able to coordinate their actions in such a Machiavellian manner, or that there is any need for that to explain current events. None of the previous world wars were that well planned out.

Samotnaf
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Jul 30 2011 06:39

I wasn't trying to claim that the rulers have a well-planned strategy (the anarchy of capitalist social relations obviously mitigates against it) - just that war on a grand scale is an option. And clearly some of the world's leaders do co-ordinate. And I didn't mean to imply that if there was a war in the Middle East it would stop there: I'm sure China has an interest in proxy wars - and these could escalate if it seems useful. There are obviously other reasons for war and other things other than war to divert the class struggle (I think Loren Goldner pointed out that the US might consider giving a helping hand to a Chinese Lech Walesa, for example).

But this is getting away from the topic: since Israel has a war every few years ( and is in constant war with the Palestinian territories), now - with the class struggle there beginning to spread, surely the next war they have will have to be more serious than previous ones that had little to do with internal contradictions (btw, just before the war with Lebanon in '82, wasn't there a big "black panther" movement amongst young Sephardi Jews in Israel...? Do you think that that influenced the Israeli state to go to war at that time ?).

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Jul 30 2011 13:41
Samotnaf wrote:

But this is getting away from the topic: since Israel has a war every few years ( and is in constant war with the Palestinian territories),

Inaccurate at best. It has a sort of colonial subcontractor relationship with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and while hostile to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, isn't consistently at all out war with it (although as the article suggests, they do seem to be escalating hostilities lately.

Samotnaf wrote:
now - with the class struggle there beginning to spread, surely the next war they have will have to be more serious than previous ones that had little to do with internal contradictions (btw, just before the war with Lebanon in '82, wasn't there a big "black panther" movement amongst young Sephardi Jews in Israel...? Do you think that that influenced the Israeli state to go to war at that time ?).

Actually, the Black Panthers had already been mostly coopted into electoral politics in the early '70s, mere years after their outbreak.

Mark.
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Jul 30 2011 20:26
Quote:
Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets Saturday night, in demand of affordable housing and social justice.

Protest marches were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ashdod, Beersheba, Nazareth, Kiryat Shmona, Modiin, Hod HaSharon, Netanya, Kfar Saba and Ashkelon. All marches culminated in rallies in each city, held under the banner of "Israel demands an affordable future."

Activists in the "tent city" on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard, which is the heart of the housing protest, were visibly excited: "There's a feeling that what will happen tonight has never been seen before, especially when it comes to non-political issues," Jonathan Levy, a protest organizer, told Ynet.

[…]

Thousands of people converged on Rothschild Boulevard ahead of the protest march. As the march began, protesters were chanting "The people demand social change" and "an entire generation demands a future," and waving signs reading "Game over," "housing, education, health, food – not for the rich only," "The people demand social justice" and more.
 
In Jaffa, dozens of Arab and Jewish protesters rallied for the cause, carrying signs in Hebrew and Arabic reading "Arabs and Jews want affordable housing," and "Jaffa doesn’t want bids for the rich only."

In Jerusalem, nearly 10,000 are marching towards the prime minister's residence, where they will stage their protest rally. Like the Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem rally will feature various speakers and organizers said they want to illustrate that "this is one socioeconomic battle over the nature of the State of Israel."

[…]

About 10,000 people gathered in Haifa and are marching towards the city's Horev Center. The Haifa police have blocked off several roads to facilitate the march, said to stretch nearly half a kilometer. 
 
In Ashdod, more than 1,500 people rallied and began marching towards city hall. About 3,000 people gathered in Beersheba and 150 rallied in Ashkelon.
 
In Kiryat Shmona, 1,000 people gathered for a protest rally under the banner of "equal conditions for the periphery."

[…]

Police sources estimated that 120,000 people were taking part in the protest nationwide.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4102005,00.html

rooieravotr
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Jul 30 2011 21:25

Mass protest again: "150.000 take to the streets" Jerusalem Post
"Masses march for social change", Ynet
"More than "100,000 take to the streets in biggest housing protest yet", Haaretz

Interesting bits of info here and there. For instance, from the Jerusalem Post article, this:

Quote:
In Jaffa, dozens of Arab and Jewish protesters rallied for the cause, carrying signs in Hebrew and Arabic reading "Arabs and Jews want affordable housing," and "Jaffa doesn’t want bids for the rich only."
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Jul 30 2011 23:13

Al Jazeera in English are reporting it, but don't feel the need for a live blog, yet. I hear that the police is trying to remove protesters from a main crossing in Tel Aviv, I wonder how much violence they will be willing to apply.

rooieravotr
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Jul 30 2011 23:45

I don't quite know how it is in British or American or any other country's media, I have seen some scattered things, sometimes through Libcom posters mentioning them... but the Dutch media is saying absolutely nothing about the Israeli protests for a full two weeks. Total silence. Only a little piece on ultra-orthodox Jews attacking Gay Pride - but without mentioning Gay Pride protesters' support for the housing protests...Imagine the reaction to the same kind of protests in, for instance, Turkey, or Italy...

Even worse, left wingers, radicals, revolutionaries are keeping an almost compete silence about thse events as well. Outside of Libcom - almost nothing. A few pieces on WSWS, 9 and 30 July. An article on Dutch Indymedia, reposted from a news site. A thing on Anarkismo. Not much more. Again, imagine these events happening in other countries...

I think libertarian communists should raise an outcry here. The left wing neglect is bordering on scandalous.

Mark.
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Jul 30 2011 23:45
rooieravotr
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Jul 31 2011 00:14

Thanks, Mark, for these videos. I understand RT is a Russian, English-language news channel, a kind of Aljazeera or CNN? Anybody knows more about this channel? They seem well-informed, on things that are under-covered in ther media, like these protests.

redsdisease
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Jul 31 2011 00:22
rooieravotr wrote:
Thanks, Mark, for these videos. I understand RT is a Russian, English-language news channel, a kind of Aljazeera or CNN? Anybody knows more about this channel? They seem well-informed, on things that are under-covered in ther media, like these protests.

I've always wondered about this. When I lived in DC, they would always have pretty good coverage of protests that we had.

revolut
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Jul 31 2011 00:58
rooieravotr wrote:
Thanks, Mark, for these videos. I understand RT is a Russian, English-language news channel, a kind of Aljazeera or CNN? Anybody knows more about this channel? They seem well-informed, on things that are under-covered in ther media, like these protests.

More like Aljazeera than CNN, in the sense that's linked/funded by the national-State.

Samotnaf
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Jul 31 2011 08:23

I wrote

Quote:
btw, just before the war with Lebanon in '82, wasn't there a big "black panther" movement amongst young Sephardi Jews in Israel...? Do you think that that influenced the Israeli state to go to war at that time ?

Tojiah replied:

Quote:
Actually, the Black Panthers had already been mostly coopted into electoral politics in the early '70s, mere years after their outbreak.

Got it wrong then, but wasn't there a massive social movement of non European Sephardi jews in Israel in the months (perhaps as much as 20 months) before the war in Lebanon; I can't believe I imagined it - I know I smoked a lot of wacky backy back then, but I don't think I drifted that far away from reality...Remember speaking to an Israeli about it, late 1982.

That RT video is interesting - particularly the connections being made between Arabs and Jews, but also because of the anticipation/preparation for the rulers' possible moves towards more overt war than usual. Are social movements (strikes, demonstrations etc.) explicitly repressed by legal moves every time there's a war there or is it just down to the "all pull together" ideology?

Mark.
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Jul 31 2011 10:27
rooieravotr wrote:
I don't quite know how it is in British or American or any other country's media, I have seen some scattered things, sometimes through Libcom posters mentioning them... but the Dutch media is saying absolutely nothing about the Israeli protests for a full two weeks. Total silence. Only a little piece on ultra-orthodox Jews attacking Gay Pride - but without mentioning Gay Pride protesters' support for the housing protests...Imagine the reaction to the same kind of protests in, for instance, Turkey, or Italy...

From the +972 site:

So, suddenly Israel isn’t a story anymore?

Quote:
When I got home last night from what was probably the largest demonstration in Israel since the first Lebanon war, I checked my usual websites to see how it was covered.

I also checked my usual two international papers, the New York Times and the Guardian sites. But there was nothing. Oh well, might be too early. I’ll check in the morning.

This morning, 7 hours after the demo ended, 10 hours after it began, nothing to be found on the homepages of both respectable outlets. Not a word.

Despite being  a leftie, I’ve always believed that there is some truth to the claims that international media focuses on Israel and the conflict much more than on other conflicts – just as bloody, just as unjust – if not more.

So when 150,000 Israelis, a huge number even percentage-wise, protest the cost of living, as they do in Madrid and elsewhere – suddenly it’s not a story? When it comes to Israel, it’s not interesting? We’re only occupiers, right? What kind of news editors are you guys holding up there? Seriously, are you telling me this isn’t a story?

If you follow the link there's more discussion in the comments below the article.

rooieravotr wrote:
Even worse, left wingers, radicals, revolutionaries are keeping an almost compete silence about thse events as well. Outside of Libcom - almost nothing. A few pieces on WSWS, 9 and 30 July. An article on Dutch Indymedia, reposted from a news site. A thing on Anarkismo. Not much more. Again, imagine these events happening in other countries...

I think libertarian communists should raise an outcry here. The left wing neglect is bordering on scandalous.

There's also very little coverage on English language Arab / Middle East blogs. Maybe the story doesn't fit very well with world views sympathetic to Palestinian nationalism.

-----

+972 report and photos from the protests last night

Quote:
The housing and social protests tonight reached a huge crescendo, with throngs flooding streets in over 10 cities across the country Israel. Haaretz is reporting roughly 150,000 people around the country in Hebrew (with a more conservative estimate of over 100,000 in English).

Compared to the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 who demonstrated last week, the number of protesters around the country may have more than quadrupled...

AFP: Israel PM creates task force after prices protests

Quote:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday ordered the creation of a task force charged with finding ways to alleviate the cost of living, a day after huge protests.

At least 100,000 people took to the streets in cities across Israel on Saturday night in the latest show of force by a protest movement that has exposed deep anger in society about the cost of living and income disparity.

[…]

Even as Netanyahu met with his cabinet, members of the Israeli Medical Association doctors' union gathered outside parliament as part of their ongoing protest in support of better wages and working conditions.

And media reported that activists were gathering support for two protest actions -- a general strike on Monday that has already gained the backing of the local authorities' union, and a plan for a mass withdrawal of cash from banks on August 8 to protest against high banking and credit card fees.

The protests are the largest demonstrations over social issues that Israel has seen at least since the early 1970s when thousands of people, led by a group called the Black Panthers, took to the streets to protest against racial discrimination suffered by Mizrahi Jews of Middle Eastern descent...

ynetnews: social activists - the revolution is here