Israel/Palestine social protests

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 4 2011 09:36

Anyone in AF or SF working on putting out a statement from a local?

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Ed
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Aug 4 2011 09:43

You and your fucking statements, chilli sauce! You should just make yourself a template that you can reuse every time wink

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Steven.
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Aug 4 2011 09:47

Yeah, I think a good, in-depth analytical article (or first-hand account) would be more useful than a statement

bootsy
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Aug 4 2011 10:47
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Already the media is saying that "anarchists" attacked the settlers and not regular #j14 protesters

It was normal Israelis, not radical leftists, who actually stood up to Jewish racists screaming homophobic, racist and anti-Arab hate

Watch closely how the #j14 organizers handle this event for indications of whether the occupation will play an issue as the protests unfold

Judging by a facebook comment from an Israeli friend of mine I think it was anarchists who challenged the settlers head on. Apparently the organizers sided with the settlers, claiming the slogan 'Sudanese go back to Sudan' is a 'legitimate economic claim'. Anyway this person said they will not be participating in the tent city because of it.

Mark.
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Aug 4 2011 11:18

That sounds discouraging - do you know if he/she was there yesterday or is relying on 2nd hand or media reports?

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Quote:
According to some protesters, the settlers were preparing to go and destroy #tent48 and #j14 protesters attempted to stop them

Facebook page for tent #48 - the focus of the conflict yesterday

bootsy
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Aug 4 2011 20:41

I'm fairly certain they were there.

Mark.
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Aug 4 2011 22:48

+972: Jewish supremacists visit social justice protests

Ynet report

Quote:
Right-wing groups such as Bnei Akiva, Im Tirtzu, and My Israel say they are marching in Tel Aviv for lower housing and staple product costs

But the protesters on Rothschild Boulevard did not appreciate the new company. "It's important to stress that they are not part of us. We did not coordinate a protest with them. They came in order to catch a free ride," said one of the protest organizers.

But others were in favor of the rightists' arrival. "We want to find solutions relevant to the entire nation. I called on the settlers to join from day one. This is a battle of the people. Right or Left doesn't matter – we want to break these definitions," one of the organizers said.

"We can't do anything without formulating a unified opinion. The people understand that (the government) is pulling a divide and conquer – for years they have been trying to create conflict between us."

[...]

Dozens of Marzel's supporters were also present, and angered protesters even more by calling out, "Tel Aviv is Jewish, Sudanese go to Sudan". Loud arguments broke out between them and the 'tent city' inhabitants, who yelled at the rightists to go home.

Housing protest: rightist tent torched - though the report looks dubious and the pic is less dramatic the headline.

baboon
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Aug 5 2011 09:47

I take Steven's point above about the proletariat in Britain during the days of the Empire - a point I take to mean the defence of the working class against the activities of its "own" bourgeoisie. Leftism equates the two but there's been some elements of it on here.

The argument of Steven about the Empire still stands today; the states of America, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China... all of them, are up to their necks in the blood of innocents. Israel, just like apatheid South Africa yesterday, is not a "special case" but is absolutely typical of all imperialist nations (and all nations are imperialist). Imperialism is a vital question for the working class but it can only be effectively confronted through class struggle and only as long as that class struggle tends to take an independent and deepening turn. The working class in Israel is no more complicit in the oppression of the Palestian populations than the proletariat in Britain, America, Jordan, France, Egypt and so on.

The question could also be raised about the thousands of Palestinian construction and other workers who work on building work and other stuff in the county, including new settler homes. These are workers and their common interests is in joining the class struggle and not supporting UN resolutions and different factions of the ruling class as in South Africa.

Mark.
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Aug 5 2011 11:46

Haaretz: Housing activists hope for record numbers at Saturday protest

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One of the contributors to +972 on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ibnezra

Quote:
Settlers have left Tel Aviv and plan to return tomorrow evening for a large march attacking #j14

Setters did not come to #j14 to be incorporated into the protests. They came to get attention and start controversy. Exactly what they got

Marzel's group of settlers is the closest thing to the KKK in Israel. They were allowed to stand at #j14 & that is a point worth discussing

Since I am not part of #j14, I am raising the question. This is not criticism of the protests but a question about its nature

In Tel Aviv Liberal Zioinst circles, any criticism or questions about the direction of #j14 are not tolerated well at this point

I spoke with many #j14 protesters who wanted the settlers to leave but main organizers intervened saying that they can't decide who is there

#j14 organizers did intervene directly to say that 'they do not decide who comes to the protests' in effect allowing settlers to stay

If the overwhelming majority of #j14 protesters want the settlers to leave.Why are they still there? Who is giving them permission to stay?

I'm not sure how decisions are being made at the tent protests. I haven't seen any reports of 15M style assemblies of protesters - not that they are necessarily the perfect solution either.

Edit: Haaretz has a report on a meeting to vote for representatives at the main tent protest in Tel Aviv, but I'm still not clear from this how the meetings work.

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Aug 5 2011 15:35

This from tent48

Quote:
Tent No. 1948
General Assembly in Rothschild today decided that the encampment will not accept any racist messages among its participants. The protest camp is open to all people, from all religions, nationalities, sexual orientations, genders, etc. Racist will be requested, politely to change their message, or to leave.

Looks like the question raised in that earlier linked 972 article "How long can the social justice protests go on without defining what “social justice” means?" is slowly being approached.

edit: Anarkismo: Class war within neo-liberal capitalism and the rebellion ignited by the Israeli "middle class"

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Steven.
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Aug 5 2011 15:48

Pretty good interview here with photos in Vice magazine
http://www.viceland.com/wp/2011/08/the-angry-tent-cities-of-israel/

Mark.
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Aug 5 2011 21:18

I thought this answer from the Vice magazine interview was interesting and helps to explain some of the similarities with the 15M movement in Spain - including the claims to be 'non-political' and open to people from the right as well as the left.

Quote:
Do you see this struggle as a part of the Arab Spring?
You can’t ignore the Arab Spring, it’s happening all around us and it’s constantly in the media. [...] In reality, the right comparison would be to the Real Democracy Now protests in Spain – a number of the Israeli protesters were in Spain at the time and brought back some of their ideas, hence why we have the same tent cities, the same community discussions and a real urge for peaceful protest.

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From the Commune
http://libcom.org/library/arab-spring-israeli-summer

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Another interesting interview
The social order shakes: Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf on the Israeli social justice movement

Quote:
I think the protest is challenging something very important in the Israeli social order. There’s an unwritten agreement between various groups in Israeli society—I’m talking about the Jewish society. This is something that enables the entire system that we see here. So by declaring that the current social order is not suitable for us anymore, I think that the middle-class, the upper-middle class, the people who are protesting, are making a serious challenge against the structure of Israeli society. It’s more of something that represents an undercurrent in society than what you see on the surface. Because, ultimately, this protest doesn’t touch the significant political questions that we always hear about from Israel: the occupation, the future of the West Bank, the relations between Arab and Jewish citizens. But it touches on the layer beneath it that holds everything together. So, I think this is a major, major thing.

[…]

People speak about what’s happening in Tel Aviv as part of this Arab Spring. But that would be a mistake. If something is part of the Arab Spring, it is the Palestinian youth movement, the Palestinian popular uprising, which is forming right now. Israeli society is very different. And in the context of our conversation, the important thing is that, unlike authoritarian regimes, like Syria or Libya or Egypt, it was never persecution that held the social structure together, but indoctrination in Israel, as far as Jews are concerned. For Palestinians, it was persecution and oppression. [There was a] convincing of 99 percent of the Jewish public that they benefit from the current social order—and this is the best social order for them.

So, right now what we see is a [lot of people] actually saying, “I don’t see any advantage for me in this social order.” This can go many ways: it can go into a form of nationalism, or it can go to a way that says that the interests of the poor Jew in Israel are more like the interests of the poor Palestinian than those of a Jewish billionaire in Israel. This is such a radical notion that it’s even hard to explain. But these are the kind of doors that open when you challenge the social structure...

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Aug 5 2011 21:24

Bit I found the most interesting (and "prromsing") from the Sheifaz interview:

Quote:
If you read through the Hebrew media, you’ll notice that those attacking the protests, the most vicious attacks against the protests, are coming from the religious right—from the settlers, from their supporters, and those people are like the litmus test for society here, because if you look at the settlers, you can understand almost everything. They were awfully quiet when Netanyahu traveled to his meeting with President Abbas in Washington a year-and-a-half ago. During the so-called settlement freeze, they didn’t say a word. You’d expect the settlers to go wild about that, right? But they didn’t say a word, except for some really radical forces inside the settler movement, because ultimately they felt that this doesn’t threaten them. Right now, you can hear the entire Israeli right, the expansionist right, those who promote Jewish supremacy here, those who advocate for the colonization of land, you can see them mobilizing against these protests in a way that they didn’t mobilize before, because this [movement] is a major threat to their interests. So, that’s a good sign as well for where things are headed.
Mark.
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Aug 5 2011 22:18
Mark.
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Aug 5 2011 22:53

Tent48

Letter from Tel Aviv

Quote:
Twitter:#tent48 / Facebook

We are a group of Palestinian Arab and Jew citizens that believe in shared sovereignty in the state of all its citizens. Instead of thinking about separation and constrains, we think of the possibility of joint existence.

Since foundation of the state – Israeli policy of divide and rule, prevents real change and produces boundaries for deep social demands. If we work together we can only benefit.

What do we want?

We want this struggle to deal with housing shortage among Arabs and Mizrachi Jews in Israel, both in large cities and in the villages.

We want to end Judaization of Arab neighborhoods and stop the “development” of neighborhoods by building luxury complexes.

We want to stop the eviction of Palestinian families as it happens almost every day in Jaffa, Lod, Ramla and elsewhere in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

We want to end the discrimination of the Palestinian Arabs in the rental and purchase of real estate, which became “legitimate” in the Israeli- Jewish society, as the “Letter of Rabbis” showed us.

We want to change the land policy in Israel, so it will address the historical justice to Palestinian population. No more land confiscation, no more house demolitions. We live here together, it’s time we start to internalize it.

We want to talk about discrimination in state institutions, education, health, culture.

We require recognizing the basic right of the Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Territories to set their own lifestyles.

We want to emphasize, there can be no social justice while this state occupies and oppresses Palestinians, and justice should be to all. In Addition, many of the state resources are allocated to the occupation: by establishing walls and barriers, that embitter the life of the Palestinian people, or by securing and supporting settlements. Occupation takes a lot of money, which can be used to improve the life of the Jewish and Arab population in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Mark.
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Aug 6 2011 10:30

Tahrir envy: an anti-occupation activist’s first thoughts on the tent protests in Israel

Quote:
Almost a month in, Tahrir-envy in Israel is now at what seems to be its peak. 150,000 people took the streets last Sunday, at what must have been the biggest protests here since the protests against the “disengagement” from Gaza. For months now, a public whisper was spread through the mainstream media; why don’t the Israelis take the streets?
Quote:
“Where are the masses? With its lack of ideology and values, the phenomenon of postmodernism is one reason why downtrodden Israelis choose not to rise up and free themselves of latter-day bondage. Revolution Square is empty.”

While the people of our neighboring states are getting shot en-mass in a bold attempt to dismantle their oppressing regimes, the deteriorating Israeli middle class found out they were paying quadruple the cost of Israeli produce in Europe, and they weren’t gonna take it anymore. A law against boycotts was passed, among other fascistic laws ... but the cottage cheese boycott was the one that captured the spotlight. And it wasn’t boycotted for being produced on stolen land.

But cottage cheese must have just been a symptom, along with it came protests over the rising gas prices, separate workers’ protests, including underpaid and overworked doctors, dock workers, university cleaning staff and many more. And still, no one would claim that The Only Democracy In The Middle East™ is crumbling from within. In fact, some would say the lack of public out-cry is  a shining example of its stability...

But then something happened. A young, white, higher-middle-class Ashkenazi woman was unable to pay the rent. She erected a tent in one of the most prestigious boulevards in Tel-Aviv during her semester break and demanded reasonable rent. Within a week, 130 tents were erected along Rothschild boulevard and a movement was born. All across the 1967 borders, Israelis are demanding “social justice”, and to that effect, the state has a polite, middle-class resistance on their hands.

Arab Spring minus the Arabs

Even us Anarchists couldn’t stay indifferent to the fact that the white middle class was rising up. To us, the housing protest is a great opportunity to bring Lyd, Jaffa, Ramle, Silwan and Al-arakhib to the forefront of middle-Israel, and try to connect occupation with habitation, appropriation with apartheid, and gentrification with genocide. The limits to this idea would soon be vividly illustrated to us, as our “Anarchists Against the Wall” banner and ActiveStills exhibition were torn down. We went back into our closet and came out as “Salon Mazal”, a radical info shop that somehow managed to find a way into the hearts of center-left Tel-Aviv, who were now boulevard residents.

Unfortunately, even though we were generally well-received, the most common question asked by the boulevard dwellers was “What do Arabs have to do with it?” Indeed, even though tents have popped up in 10 cities, Arabs (god forbid Palestinians) are still a non-issue (what do you call a democratic protest for Jews only?), Arabic isn’t the language of liberation (but the tent areas are called “Ma’ahal”), and not only was the Jaffa Ma’ahal taken down the day it was created, but a little birdy told me that they were urged not to write signs in Arabic by the main Ma’ahal in Rothschild.

That said, I’d like to mention the interesting steps made at uniting against oppression by the Be’er Sheva Ma’ahal that has been joined by al-Arakhib, the anti-racist efforts at the Levinsky Ma’ahal in south Tel Aviv and the latest declaration of peace in the Middle East coming out of the Tiqva Ma’ahal, also in south Tel Aviv, joining hands the the Jaffa Ma’ahal [limited by my translation]:

Quote:
Arabs and Jews will march together in the Saturday demonstration: “A natural connection”

Nearing the big demonstration of the protest organizations, Saturday evening in Tel Aviv, the Jewish-Arab Ma’ahal dwellers in Jaffa announced that they’ll unite with the big ma’ahal that was erected in the Tikva neighborhood in the city. Activists in both Ma’ahals met last night and agreed to march together in the demonstration, in order to express the “cry of groups that have been expelled from the Israeli society,” in their words. Hana Aamouri, the Jaffa popular committee representative, said that “the connection with the Tikva neighborhood and other marginalized neighborhoods is natural, both in demands and an ma’ahal character. The troubles are similar and the messages are similar, more than any other ma’ahal.”

The privilege of protest

But not all is simply harmonious in the Israeli Tahrir. As always, if you want unity in Israel, you have to pick it “politically clean”. Thus the protest has managed to keep “social, not political” (which means we don’t talk about Arabs as such). We march to the museum under the banner of “the nation wants social justice”, forgetting that at least 20% of the population doesn’t identify as “the nation of Israel”, and once we get there we get our image of Woodstock, complete with the biggest names in local rock.

Mizrachi music stays in the Ma’ahals of the “periphery”. These Ma’ahals have been evicted by the police, with the usual assumption that no one will notice. Levinsky, the Ma’ahal I joined in the south of the city, is a joint protest of the marginalized south Tel-Aviv residents, the African refugees and friends. Rothschild was just too far away for the lower classes to be able to commit to and get a day’s work done. In Israel 2011, people of color have no choice but to ride the waves of a white revolution in hopes of gathering the crumbs.

Don’t get me wrong, this protest- this movement in social dynamics in Israel- is way over due. Walking Rothschild boulevard, I noticed people weren’t talking about the best parties, that hot guy, or their new mobile phone. Politics- whether they realized it or not- was the language spoken. Social concern and even compassion is the new fad.

But maybe that’s what it is- a fad. Never has a protest been so pampered by the media. Never has the media busied itself so much with making amateurish and corny musical compilations that could rival a youtube video. How long will the media talk so fondly of “our youth of the revolution”? What will it take for all this to disappear? Semester restart? September security propaganda? Boredom masked in disillusionment?

Vibrant apartheid

Back to my reality: There’s a dilemma in being an anti-occupation activist and sitting in the “Ma’ahal”. One whiff of tear gas in the Palestinian villages in the occupied territories can make you forget a whole week in tent city. Apart from the typical result of a mainstream protest, where we can expect the middle class will be lulled right back to sleep, while the the marginalized are howling in the doghouse; In Israel one must think of what happens beyond the apartheid wall.

All these strictly social-but-not-political protests are a social manifestation of apartheid mentality. If housing is the name of the game, then it’s not just about reasonable rent, mortgage, or even basic sanitation needs. As I’ve mentioned, the systematic demolition of homes and theft of land isn’t addressed by the Israelis’ revolution. Not within Israel-proper, and mums the word about them occupied territories.

Yes, there is a massive policy of privatization. Yes, people are only considered by the merit of their consuming ability. Yes, Wages stand still, while rent rockets sky high. Yes, whatever is outside center Tel-Aviv is called “the periphery”. There’s plenty of reason to stop the train in Israel, but somehow it’s never because it goes through occupied Palestinian land. Let us not mistake this display of a vibrant democracy for an actual vibrant democracy.

Mark.
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Aug 6 2011 12:21
Quote:
Never has a protest been so pampered by the media. Never has the media busied itself so much with making amateurish and corny musical compilations that could rival a youtube video. How long will the media talk so fondly of “our youth of the revolution”? What will it take for all this to disappear?

Actually one thing that has struck me is the similarity to the coverage of the 15M protests by the Spanish media, with the more liberal/left press being largely sympathetic (though often distorting the facts) and varying degrees of hostility from the right. It isn't something unique to Israel.

Edit: This might be more of a stretch, but I think maybe there are also parallels between Israel and Spain in the reactions, ranging from scepticism to outright hostility, of some longstanding activists to the new wave of protests.

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AFP: Israel housing activists seek 'critical mass'

Mark.
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Aug 6 2011 21:32

Between euphoria and anarchy: Tel Aviv’s revolutionary festival

Noam Sheizaf wrote:

A midnight walk through the Rothschild Avenue protest camp

On the corner of Allenby Street and Rothschild Avenue, a Jewish supremacists’ group is conducting fierce arguments with several bystanders. I am spotting former Kahane men, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir, accompanied by “hilltop youth,” the radical settler teens, notorious for harassing Palestinians, who are now standing across the street from the busy pubs and food places, a bit bewildered, wearing tee-shirts saying “Tel Aviv is for Jews”. Rumors are that a couple of their tents were burned by leftists. While the older kids argue, the younger ones are standing in the back, staring at the night traffic at one of the city’s busiest junction.

It is almost midnight. This part of the city is always packed on weekends, but right now it’s so crowded it’s almost impossible to walk. Around 400 tents are scattered along the boulevard. Hundreds of young Israelis are lying between them on mattresses and old furniture, drinking, smoking, playing music, talking with “tourists”—the unofficial name for the visitors to Israel’s first and largest social protest camp site—and mostly arguing about politics.

[…]

This is no longer about housing. The papers are discussing economical figures and social plans, but something very different is taking place on Rothschild Boulevard. It seems that everyone who has something to say came here, put up a tent and started shouting. The euphoria of the first few days of the struggle is still present, but the tension is rapidly building. People still play music and discuss politics, but many fear violence. I am told that the original group that started the protest doesn’t sleep in this tent camp anymore, after receiving threats to their lives.

Yet the camp seems to grow by the day. There are tents everywhere, and in between them stands and people handing leaflets in the middle of the night. There are tents for animals rights, for drafting the ultra-orthodox to the IDF (would you like to sign the petition?), tents built by the Communist party, tents for settling the north of Israel with Jews, a joint Jewish-Arab camp named “Tent 1948,” a tent of social workers dealing with disadvantaged youth (their services have been privatized, and they demand the state give them a formal contract), tents representing art students, a new-age circle of tents with the inevitable girl explaining about the power of inner peace to heal society, a small camp populated by physiology interns, and more, much more. In between, dozens of signs: “Bibi has sold us out”; “The market is free. Are you?”; “Tahrir, corner of Rothchild”; “we are non-political”; “Lock your doors, billionaires.”

What does it all mean? With every day that I visit this place, it seems less calling for a political analysis and more for a novelist, or a Gonzo-style journo.

All around the country, the social protest goes on. Just today, there have been more demonstrations in Tel Aviv than in an average month. A parents’ march for free pre-school education; cab drivers blocked a major road in protest of the rising petrol prices; farmers protested against lowering the tariffs on dairy products; several thousands union people had a rally in front of their headquarter. There is a tent camp in almost every city; some of them are yet to be discovered by the media, like the Ethiopian Jews’ tent camp, half an hour from Tel Aviv. Someone visited them and tweeted: “They ask for water tanks, signs and a singer with a guitar.”

Some of these protest echo things we have seen before, and the main novelty is that they come all at once. But in some places, and most of all on Rothschild Boulevard, something else is going on. Over here, the political festival is getting wilder every evening. A couple of nights ago, Channel 2’s live panel from the Avenue was heckled so badly, they had to cut the broadcast after half an hour. They will not be broadcasting from here anymore. Yesterday, army radio, which has been here for a week or so, was chased away. No policemen are in sight. Freedom is exciting, and scary…

Mark.
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Aug 6 2011 13:47

Haaretz: Israel protests influenced by Arab world

Quote:
Israelis are imitating the Arab world, and West Bank Palestinians believe this to be a good thing. According to the Ma’an news agency, 14,032 (nearly 75%) of the 18,722 readers who responded to their online survey, believe that what is happening in Israel’s streets is influenced by and imitating the “Arab Spring”.

[…]

Despite this, there isn’t much interest among the Palestinians in the protest occupying Israel for over three weeks. “We are a people in perpetual struggle with the government, three weeks of protest are not long enough to seriously catch our attention,” said Nariman al-Tamimi, from Nabi Salih, and Afaf Ghatasha, a feminist activist and member of the Palestinian People’s Party.

However, they are both impressed – as are other Palestinians –that the Israeli movement is geared toward improving the already high level standard of living in Israel in comparison to that of most Palestinians. Israelis are making “demands that are luxuries,” according to Ghatasha.

“I know something about the housing crisis,” said Tamimi, who was wrongfully placed under arrest for eight days a year and six months ago, for the attack of a policeman with a sharp object. She was eventually convicted of “obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties,” during a demonstration against the appropriation of town land and a well.

Her husband Bassam was arrested four months ago and is charged with organizing the demonstrations in their town. “For us Palestinians, it isn’t a housing crisis we are facing but a housing ban. Though the Israeli government being at fault is a common denominator,” she said.

The Civil Administration issued a demolition order for her house built in Area C. The original house, built in 1963, wasn’t large enough for the entire family, and they were forced to expand their house without a permit; a permit Israel doesn’t issue.

From their home, which could be destroyed any day, the family members can see the settlement of Halamish growing. “A few days ago, my daughter saw the Israeli protests with me as I was surfing the web,” Tamimi said, when we met at the al-Bireh Popular Resistance Committees offices.

“She asked me, are they also dispersed with tear gas, are they hit? I told her they weren’t. She couldn’t understand the difference; we are also fighting for social justice, are we not?” Tamimi said.

The main element missing in the Israeli wave of protests, according to Tamimi, is the disconnect between social struggle and the Israeli occupation.

Abu Zaida is the only who seems optimistic about the protests, saying“the public will start reckoning with its government on what it is spending on the settlements and settlers. It’s about to happen. Social justice means an equal distribution of the country’s resources. Everyone knows that this isn’t the case due to political and ideological reasons.”

[…]

Tamimi and Ghatasha believe this is an opportunity for Israelis to understand that they too are victims of the occupation. “All the tear gas grenades thrown at us in demonstrations cost money which cannot be spent on improving social conditions for Israelis,” Tamimi said. However, said she heard that one of the protest leaders spoke out against the anarchists, because they demonstrate against soldiers.

“These are the activists standing by our side in recent years,” she said, “How can you demand social justice for only one group?”

Ghatasha, who was born in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, to a family from the depopulated Palestinian town Bayt Jibrin, also found herself hard pressed to see any difference made by the protests that have swept up the country.

This May she met with Israeli leftist activists, who came to a conference for Palestinian leftist parties in Hebron. At the conference she talked about two processes hindering feminist Palestinian activities and female participation in the struggle against the occupation.

On one hand, she claimed, NGO-ation (the channeling of activities to NGOs funded by different countries), reduces the influence of women groups. On the other hand, militarization of the second intifada pushed most of the population, including women, out of the struggle’s public sphere.

“What is it that makes some Israelis get it and others not?” she mused in her party’s Hebron offices. “I’d like to understand the rationality of the Israeli people,” she added.


“On one hand there’s this selfishness, of a people living off another people’s misery, with no regret. On the other hand, it is obvious that they would be better off were they to live like a normal country, not squandering their money on upholding the occupation, Ghatasha said.

Despite their misgivings, all four agree the protest will allow the Palestinians – most of whom know Israelis only in the form of settlers and soldiers – to see that “Israeli society isn’t one-dimensional, that it is complex, that it shouldn’t be flattened, that it has struggles and oppressed classes of its own,” Ghanim said.

“The protest is shattering the Palestinians image of Israel as a perfect country, where all are full, own villas and trade in their cars every year," Abu Zaida added.

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Steven.
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Aug 6 2011 14:38
Quote:

Despite their misgivings, all four agree the protest will allow the Palestinians – most of whom know Israelis only in the form of settlers and soldiers – to see that “Israeli society isn’t one-dimensional, that it is complex, that it shouldn’t be flattened, that it has struggles and oppressed classes of its own,” Ghanim said.

let's hope that moronic Trotskyists also begin to see this

Mark.
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Aug 6 2011 17:03

Tent 1948

Abir Kopty wrote:

If you are Palestinian, it will be difficult to find anything to identify with in Tel Aviv's tents’ city, until you reach Tent 1948. My first tour there was a few days ago, when I decided to join Tent 1948. Tent 1948's main message is that social justice should be for all. It brings together Jewish and Palestinian citizens who believe in shared sovereignty in the state of all its citizens.

For me, as Palestinian, I don’t feel part of the July 14 movement, and I’m not there because I feel part, almost every corner of this encampment reminds me that this place does not want me.My first tour there was pretty depressing, I found lots of Israeli flags, a man giving a lecture to youth about his memories from ’48 war’ from a Zionist perspective, another group marching with signs calling for the release of Gilad Shalit, another singing Zionist songs. This is certainly not a place that the 20% of the population would feel belong to. The second day I found Ronen Shuval, from Im Tirtzu, the extreme right wing organization giving a talk full of incitement and hatred to the left and human rights organizations. Settlers already set a tent and were dancing with joy.

The existence of Tent 1948 in the encampment constitutes a challenge to people taking part in the July 14 movement. In the first few days, the tent was attacked by group of rightwing activists, who beat activists in the tent and broke down the Palestinian flag of the tent. Some of the leaders of the July 14 movement have said clearly that raising core issues related to Palestinian community in Israel or the occupation will make the struggle “lose momentum”. They often said the struggle is social, not political, as if there was a difference. They are afraid of losing supporters if they make Palestinian issues bold. 

The truth is that this is the truth. 

The truth is, this is exactly what might help Netanyahu, if he presses the button of fear, recreates the ‘enemy’ and reproduce the ‘security threat’, he might be able to silence this movement. The problem is not with Netanyahu, he is not the first Israeli leader to rely on this. The main problem is that Israelis are not ready yet to see beyond the walls surrounding them. Yet, one has to admit, something is happening, Israelis are awakening. There is a process; people are coming together, discussing issues. The General Assembly of the encampment decided on Friday that it will not accept any racist messages among its participants. Even to Tent 1948 many Israelis arrived, read the flyers, listened to what Tent 1948 represent and discussed calmly. Perhaps if I was a Jewish Israeli I will be proud of the July 14 movement. But, I am not a Jew, I am not Zionist, I am Palestinian. 

I don’t want to beatify the reality, or hide anything for the sake of ‘tactics’ and I will not accept crumbs. I want to speak about historical justice, I want to speak about occupation, I want to speak about discrimination and racism, I want to put everything on the table, and I want to speak about them in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Social justice can’t be divided or categorized. If it is not justice to all including all Palestinians, then it is a fake justice, elite justice or “Justice for Jews only” exactly as the Israeli democracy functions “for Jews only”. July 14 is a great opportunity for Israelis to refuse to allow their state to continue to drown into an apartheid regime.

Mark.
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Aug 6 2011 17:30

ynet: Israel gears up for mass rally

Mark.
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Aug 6 2011 22:37

Noam Sheizaf: http://twitter.com/#!/nsheizaf

Quote:
Cairo in Tel Aviv: a huge sign calling Netanyahu to go home - in Arabic http://yfrog.com/kejvwrlj

"Walk like an Egyptian" sign in Tel Aviv protest http://yfrog.com/h8n4jukj over 300K now demonstrating across Israel

The largest protest I have been to, maybe the biggest in Israel's history http://yfrog.com/gy8f4dyj

You must give it to Netanyahu: he has mobilized the Israeli public like no PM did before him

Magnificent, building-size, ad busting in Tel Aviv's social justice rally tonight http://yfrog.com/h7iuhosj ("working class") #anarchy #j14

Haaretz

Quote:
More than 300,000 people took part in demonstrations across Israel on Saturday night to protest the high cost of living.

The biggest demonstration took place in Tel Aviv where around 300,000 people marched from Habima Square, near the tent city on Rothschild Boulevard, to the Kirya defense compound on Kaplan Street.

Protesters chanted "The people demand social justice" and "An entire generation demands a future".

A number of signs that were hung on Kaplan Street read "Resign, Egypt is here".

ynet report

RT report (video)

+972: J14 movement holds largest protest in Israel’s history

+972: Over a quarter million, and Israel still isn’t a story

Edit: reports of arrests on twitter http://twitter.com/#!/ibnezra

Mark.
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Aug 7 2011 22:09

Photos

AJE report (video)

According to http://twitter.com/#!/MaxBlumenthal

Quote:
#j14 ended tonight with police arresting anarchists almost at random, breaking up protest of leftists with anti-occupation symbols/signs

Guardian video on the Rothschild tent camp

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Alf
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Aug 7 2011 15:20

Just read Adam Ford's article from the Commune:

http://libcom.org/library/arab-spring-israeli-summer

I agree with virtually everything in it. It rejects the habitual leftist view that the class struggle in Israel is of little or no importance and that the starting point must always be the national question. It is also very clear about the historic importance of this movement.

We will publish an article shortly on our website. I will provide a link when it's up.

Mark.
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Aug 7 2011 22:47

Alf - it would be good to see an analysis of the debate going on in Israel right now between what I'd broadly call J14 sceptics and enthusiasts, some of it on twitter and on sites like +972. This revolves around the movement's stance, or lack of it, on the occupation. For myself I don't really know that much about Israel/Palestine and I suspect there's a lot that I'm missing.

Here's an AJE interview with Joseph Dana, one of the sceptics

And this piece on +972 by enthusiast Noam Sheifaz responding to the article by Abir Kopty who is more of a sceptic.

The fault and the hope of J14

Quote:
Many people have rightly pointed out that the J14 protests, which mobilized Israelis to the country’s largest ever demonstration yesterday, refrains from dealing with questions regarding the status of Palestinians under Israeli control – issues such as equality under the law, access to resources and most notably, the occupation.
While I agree with those calls, I think they are missing some of the opportunities this movement presents. I was planning to write an article on these issues, but then saw that Palestinian activist Abir Copty did a much better job than I could hope to do in dealing with these questions. Copty describes her feelings following the time she spent at Tent 1948, a small Jewish-Palestinian compound at the heart of the Rothschild tent camp:
Quote:
The existence of Tent 1948 in the encampment constitutes a challenge to people taking part in the July 14 movement. In the first few days, the tent was attacked by group of rightwing activists, who beat activists in the tent and broke down the Palestinian flag of the tent. Some of the leaders of the July 14 movement have said clearly that raising core issues related to Palestinian community in Israel or the occupation will make the struggle “lose momentum”. They often said the struggle is social, not political, as if there was a difference. They are afraid of losing supporters if they make Palestinian issues bold.

The truth is that this is the truth.

The truth is, this is exactly what might help Netanyahu, if he presses the button of fear, recreates the ‘enemy’ and reproduce the ‘security threat’, he might be able to silence this movement. The problem is not with Netanyahu, he is not the first Israeli leader to rely on this. The main problem is that Israelis are not ready yet to see beyond the walls surrounding them.

Yet, one has to admit, something is happening, Israelis are awakening. There is a process; people are coming together, discussing issues. The General Assembly of the encampment decided on Friday that it will not accept any racist messages among its participants. Even to Tent 1948 many Israelis arrived, read the flyers, listened to what Tent 1948 represent and discussed calmly. Perhaps if I was a Jewish Israeli I will be proud of the July 14 movement. But, I am not a Jew, I am not Zionist, I am Palestinian.

Well, I am a Jew, and I share Abir Copty’s call for Israelis to take the opportunity of the July 14 movement not just to speak of market economy and social welfare, but to examine the entire nature of the social order in this country – and with it, the relation between Jews and Arabs.

When I visited the tent camp at Rothschild Boulevard I saw people examining the signs and reading the leaflets around tent 1948. I heard that after the rally last night a group of Hassidic Jews stopped there. At the same time, “equality tent” was built at the site of the camp that some extreme rightwing settlers tried to built, before being forced out by leftwing protesters [UPDATE: I just came back from the tents, the settlers are back, and there are constant verbal confrontations and even a bit of pushing and shoving between them and other protesters] . One should also note that among the speakers in the Tel Aviv rally was Palestinian author Udah Basharat, who spoke of land confiscation & discrimination, and mentioned the ongoing campaign against the village El-Araqib.

The J14 movement can go many ways – it can even bring Israel further to the right; it certainly won’t be the first time in history in which social unrest led to the rise of rightwing demagoguery – but right now, it is creating a space for a new conversation. Limited as this space may be, it’s so much more than we had just a month ago.

Mark.
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Aug 7 2011 22:22

Also this article from +972 by J14 enthusiast Dimi Reider

J14 may challenge something even deeper than the occupation

Quote:
One of the most impressive aspects of the J14 movement is how quickly it is snowballing, drawing more and more groups and communities into a torrent of discontent. Pouring out into the streets  is everything that Israelis, of all national identities, creeds and most classes complained about for years: The climbing rents, the rising prices on fuel, the parenting costs, the free-fall in the quality of public education, the overworked, unsustainable healthcare  system, the complete and utter detachment of most politicians, on most levels, from most of the nation.

All this has been obfuscated for decades by the conflict, by a perpetual state of emergency; one of the benefits from leaving the occupation outside the protests, for now, was to neutralise the entire discourse of militarist fear-mongering. Contrary to what Dahlia and Joseph wrote last week, the government so far utterly failed to convince the people military needs must come before social justice; Iran has largely vanished from the news pages, and attempts to scare Israelis with references to a possible escalation with Lebanon or the Palestinian are relegated to third, fourth and fifth places in the headlines, with the texts often written in a sarcastic tone rarely employed in Israeli media on “serious” military matters.

Over the past week, though, the Palestinians themselves have begun gaining presence in the protests; not as an external threat or exclusively as monolithic victims of a monolithic Israel, but as a part and parcel of the protest movement, with their demands to rectify injustices unique to the Palestinians organically integrating with demands made by the protests on behalf of all Israelis.

First, a tent titled “1948″ was pitched on Rothschild boulevard, housing Palestinian and Jewish activists determined to discuss Palestinian collective rights and Palestinian grievances as a legitimate part of the protests. They activists tell me the arguments are exhaustive, wild and sometimes downright strange; but unlike the ultra-right activists who tried pitching a tent calling for a Jewish Tel Aviv and hoisting homophobic signs, the 1948 tenters were not pushed out, and are fast becoming part of the fabric of this “apolitical” protest.

A few days after the 1948 tent was pitched, the council of the protests – democratically elected delegates from 40 protest camps across the country – published their list of demands, including, startlingly, two of the key social justice issues unique to the Palestinians within Israel: Sweeping recognition of unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Negev; and expanding the municipal borders of Palestinian towns and villages to allow for natural development. The demands chimed in perfectly with the initial drive of the protest – lack of affordable housing.
The demands chimed in perfectly with the initial drive of the protest – lack of affordable housing. Neither issue has ever been included in the list of demands of a national, non-sectarian movement capable of bringing 300,000 people out into the streets.

And, finally, on Wednesday, residents of the Jewish poverty-stricken neighbourhood of Hatikva, many of them dyed-in-the-wool Likud activists, signed a covenant of cooperation with the Palestinian and Jewish Jaffa protesters, many of them activists with Jewish-Palestinian Hadash and nationalist-Palestinian Balad. They agreed they had more in common with each other than with the middle class national leadership of the protest, and that while not wishing to break apart from the J14 movement, they thought their unique demands would be better heard if they act together. At the rally, they marched together, arguing bitterly at times but sticking to each other, eventually even chanting mixed Hebrew and Arabic renditions of slogans from Tahrir.

Yesterday’s mega-rally was also where Palestinian partnership in the protests came to a head, when writer Odeh Bisharat spoke to nearly 300,000 people – overwhelmingly, centrist Israelis Jews – of the grievances of Palestinians in Israel and was met with raucous applause. I’ll return to that moment a little further below, but before that, perhaps I should  explain why I think the participation of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the protests has more bearing on the conflict than any concentrated attempt to rally the crowds against the occupation.

On the most practical level, if the protesters had begun by blaming all of Israel’s social and political woes on the occupation, none of the breathtaking events of the past three weeks would have happened. They would have been written off as Israel-hating lefties and cast aside, just like every attempt to get mainstream Israelis to care for Palestinians before caring for themselves was cast aside for at least the past decade.

Altruist causes can rarely raise people to a sustained and genuine popular struggle against their own governments, and attempts to rally Israelis to the Palestinian cause for selfish reasons – i.e. for our own soldiers’ sake or because of the demographic time bomb – smacked of hypocrisy and ethnic nationalism; hypocrisy is a poor magnet for popular support, while ethnic nationalism is the natural instrument of the Right, not of the Left, which wields it awkwardly and usually to its own detriment.

It should be admitted, 11 years after the second Intifada, 18 years after the beginning of the peace process, that the Israeli left has utterly and abjectly failed to seriously enthuse Israelis in the project of ending the occupation. There was never a choice between a social struggle focused on the occupation and a social struggle temporarily putting the conflict aside, because the first attempt would have flopped . There was nothing to be gained by trying the same thing again for the Nth time. There have been many important victories in battles, but on the whole, the two-state left (as opposed to the two-state right) has lost the war.

The Occupation is just part of a bigger problem

But these were the tactical considerations valid only for the beginning of the protests. Social injustice does not exist in a vacuum, most certainly not in a conflict zone – and the problem in Israel-Palestine is much wider and deeper than the occupation. The occupation may be the most acute and violent injustice going on, and, like Aziz and I wrote in our New York Times op-ed last week, it’s certainly the greatest single obstacle to social justice on either side of the Green Line. But it’s still only one expression of an organising principle that has governed all of Israel-Palestine for at least the past sixty years: Separation.

Israel-Palestine today is, for all intents and purposes, a single political entity, with a single de-facto sovereign – the government in Jerusalem, but the populations this government controls, are divided into several levels of privilege. The broad outlines of the hierarchy are well-known – at the bottom are Palestinians of ‘67, who can’t even vote for the regime that governs most areas of their lives and are subject to military and bureaucratic violence on a day to day basis; Palestinians of ‘48, who can vote but are strongly and consistently discriminated and lack collective rights (which is a Jewish privilege); and finally the Israeli Jews.

But separation runs deeper than that: It employs and amplifies cultural and economic privilege to fracture each broad group into sub-groups, separating Druze from Bedouins from Palestinians, Ramallah residents from residents of Hebron, city residents from villagers, established residents from refugees; and within Jewish society, Mizrachis from Ashkenazis, settlers from green-line residents of Israel, ultra-Orthodox from secular, Russians from native-born Israelis, Ethiopians from everyone else, and so on.

The separation system is so chaotic even its privileges are far from self evident: ultra-Orthodox and settlers are seen as the communities most benefiting from the status quo, but it is important to remember the actual socio-economic standing of both is rather weak, and many in both are not only beneficiaries, but also hostages – the ultra-Orthodox to sectorial parties, the settlers to the occupation. And the occupation itself is just an instrument of separation: Its long term purpose is to acquire maximum land  with a minimum of Palestinian on it, but for the past 40 years it mainly ensured half the population under the control of a certain government would have no recourse or representation with that government on any level.

And while the issue of the occupation remains to be engaged with directly in the #j14 movement, the very dynamic of the protests is already gnawing at the foundation on which the occupation rests – the separation axiom. Haggai Matar is a veteran anti-occupation activist, with a prison term for conscientious objection to serve in the IDF and countless West Bank protests under his belt. There are few people in Israel more committed to ending the occupation than him. And yet this is how he writes of yesterday’s rally:

Quote:
Odeh Bisharat, the first Arab to address the mass rallies, greeted the enormous audience before him and reminded them that the struggle for social justice has always been the struggle of the Arab community, which has suffered from inequality, discrimination, state-level racism and house demolitions in Ramle, Lod, Jaffa and Al-Araqib. Not only was this met with ovation from a huge crowd of well over a hundred thousand people, but the masses actually chanted: “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” And later, in a short clip of interviews from protest camps across the country, Jews and Arabs spoke, and a number of them, including even one religious Jew, repeatedly said that “it’s time for this state to be a state for all its citizens.” A state for all its citizens. As a broad, popular demand. Who would have believed it.

It would be seriously far-fetched to assume the protesters are deliberately trying to pull down the entire meshwork of rifts and boundaries. But one of the many unexpected consequences of this movement – indeed, the movement itself is an avalanche of completely unexpected consequences – is that these boundaries are beginning to blur and to seem less relevant than what brings people together. We have failed to end the occupation by confronting it head on, but the boundary-breaking, de-segregating movement could, conceivably, undermine it.

Like Noam wrote earlier today, it’s still too soon to tell where the movement will eventually go, and “it can even bring Israel further to the right; it certainly won’t be the first time in history in which social unrest led to the rise of rightwing demagogue – but right now, it is creating a space for a new conversation. Limited as this space may be, it’s so much more than we had just a month ago.” The slow erosion of separation lines means there are also possibilities opening up for new conversation about the Jewish-Palestinian divide – including the occupation.

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Alf
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Aug 8 2011 08:48

Thanks for posting that Mark. These articles are very interesting, and despite the liberal sentiments I would agree a lot with the approach. I think this movement has, in embryo at least, 'solved' the dichotomy between the social and the national question. It is in the course of a social struggle that real unity, which can only develop as a class unity with a vision of a stateless human community, can be built and national divisions can be overcome in practice. It is a concrete refutation of all the leftist arguments that 'first we have to solve the national question, then we can have a normal class struggle'.

Mark.
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Aug 9 2011 10:19
Alf wrote:
very interesting ... despite the liberal sentiments

Along the same lines here's an article on the twitter debate by Mona Kareem

Why do I find the hashtag #ThawretWeladElKalb shameful?

Quote:
In the past 3 days, a new Arab hashtag was trending in the Arab world under the title #ThawretWeladElKalb meaning “the revolution of sons of bitches” in reference to the recent protests in Israel. From the way it has been spelled, I assume it was an Egyptian who made it up, but I have no evidence for it. I described this hashtag today, on my twitter account, as “discriminatory and racist” and I thought it is shameful to witness such an act practiced by the so called “Arab revolutionaries”. Many have reacted by calling me a Zionist or a self-hating Arab. Others started preaching me about the crimes done by the state of Israel as if I were Anwar Al-Sadaat!

I do not hate Israelis (although the Arab educational system raises you up to hate Jews automatically, and to feel superior towards others in general) but I definitely oppose and hate the crimes done by the state of Israel, just the way I do with our Arab dictatorships (keeping in my mind that Israel has been acting way more merciful with its own citizens, unlike our almighty police-state regimes). On the other hand, I also have the same feelings towards Arab suicide bombers who kill people in a night club or a school bus. I believe killing a human cannot be justified what so ever, regardless of the ideology, identity, or religion of the victim and the victimizer.

Arabs lately have been bragging about their “peaceful struggle” for democracy (although using the word democracy is very problematic) and the world has very much appreciated how the Arab Spring shows the other side of Arab nations unlike the deformed image that extremists have established for us over the years. And starting from this exact point, Arabs cannot give up the peaceful path they chose, just when the subject comes to their “classical enemy” Israel. Arab revolutionaries should act more responsible not to contradict themselves and clearly understand what Gandhi once said “an eye for an eye makes the world blind”. They should give up their long heritage that is filled with epics about revenge represented within heroic frames.

Arabs should also understand that their revolutions will only stand up truly when they strongly believe that the revolutions are not only against figures of their regimes but also revolutions to reconstruct their cultures and root out all forms of discrimination because simply discrimination can never be justified and verbal abuse only makes you look worse. Arabs cannot label every Israeli as a criminal, and ironically enough, they do not know that people who protested recently in Israel come from different backgrounds including anti-occupation activists and Arab-Israelis. What most of Arabs know about Israel is just what they know about Chinese linguists!

I am not a Zionist, and the Palestinian-Israeli question is not something we can easily answer. I am a strong believer in the one state solution because it is the only solution that chooses the human being over the imaginary frames created by frozen thoughts. However, it does not matter whether you are with the one state solution or with “getting the whole land back”, because at the end you should know that discriminating against Israelis will not make you look good, it will deepen the gap between you and others, and it will make you practice the sin that you wouldn’t want anyone to practice against you.

All sorts of human struggle should be hailed, respected, and appreciated. We need to act as humans above all because only this way we can win. We need to admit that discrimination is a norm in Arab countries and that revolutions should fight it in all its forms.

Edit: +972 has a piece on this here.

Angry Arab has a comment here that is pretty bad - particularly as he identifies as an anarchist of sorts.

Mark.
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Aug 8 2011 10:09
Quote:
From a correspondent in Tel Aviv:

Re. the question: the protests are not related to the Israel/Palestine question. Obviously, people in the camps are talking about it. But it’s such a sensitive and divisive issue, that taking a stance would mean losing large parts of the protesters.

This is the sad reality we live in in Israel. I decided to join the protests despite this because I think this movement has a long term effect. People are finally out on the streets, talking politics. Israeli Palestinians have joined the protests, and for the first time you hear people talk about social rights without referring to racial or ethnic terms.

But for all your friends who are looking for an explicit condemnation of the occupation or reclamation of Palestinian rights, I unfortunately have to say they will be disappointed. This movement so far has no capacity to talk about the occupation without disappearing. I understand the dilemma you guys have abroad. Personally I recommended my friends in Madrid to wait a bit before taking a clear stance, because of this complex issue. They decided to act anyway and wrote us another support letter.

http://www.peoplesassemblies.org/2011/08/israeli-protests-arab-spring-meets-jewish-summer/#comments