Saturday, August 13

The Demonstrations in Israel – Is it an Exercise in Futility?

The demonstrations in Tel Aviv 6th August 2010. Over 300 000
Israelis were present - a real record!
In my previous article, I wrote that the demonstrations sweeping Israel have brought the people out into the streets in increasing in numbers. Is this an exercise in futility? Time will tell but my gut feeling is “yes”.

The end of the school holidays is round the corner. This means that many demonstrating parents - many of whom are on vacation - will be involved in buying expensive school books and raking up money to pay for the "free education" of their children.

Apart from this, the Palestinians are indicating that they intend to declare the establishment of a Palestinian state unilaterally in the UN General Assembly. As we all know, this symbolic act does not carry much weight but as a diplomatic move it will cause severe problems for Israel resulting in its increasing isolation in the world. There are to date 130 states who have indicated support for this move.

The US will use its veto in the UN Security Council if the declaration reaches this Council for the vote. This could cause problems for the Palestinians. The US may decrease its financial support for the Palestinian cause. However, as the situation remains now, there is a question mark as to what tactics the Palestinians will adopt in their unilateral declaration of independence.

PM Netanyahu will exploit the Palestinian issue and re-hash the Iranian threat in order to unite the nation, thus sidetracking the Israeli people to unite against the "common threat". He will say that Israel's existence is under threat and this will rally all the demonstrators to support him and his government. The likelihood of this tactic succeeding is large, the demonstration and its achievements, if any, will be forgotten, and it will be business as usual. There is nothing like a call to the blood to unify the people in its support of the present Israeli Government. It reminds me of the apartheid white Government of South Africa in its attempt to unify the whites against the blacks by screaming "Swart Gevaar (black danger) from the left"!
Another reason that renders the nationwide demonstrations futile is that the core of the social and housing problems are severely overlooked. The core is based on two big problems that were hardly mentioned:

1. The occupation, including continuous building of subsidized houses in the territories. Apart from being morally unjustifiable to build on Palestinian land it requires an IDF presence to protect the settlers which is a drain on Israel's financial resources.

 2. Housing for ultra-Orthodox religious Israelis, who spend their time studying Talmud and Torah and do not work. This community of parasites is given money by the government in coalition deals with the religious Shas and Torah Judaism Parties.

Most of the demonstrators are right wing supporters anyway. They are politely requesting the right wing government to change their priorities and solve their housing and cost of living problems.
This will never happen. The focus of the demonstrations should be to call for elections to rid the country of the insensitive right wing government and elect a new government that will change its priorities and move away from tycoonization and swinish capitalism.

All that we are witnessing now is a request for the leopard to change its spots rather than changing the government through the ballot box. This so called steering clear of hot potato political issues weakens the demonstration's cause and toadies to the government in the hope of improving the economic status of the middle class. This will not occur.

What has the Netanyahu coalition done? As expected, they have established a populist, impotent commission to alleviate the expensive housing problems. It will be headed by Prof Manuel Trajtenberg, an economist.

While the occupation and religious party extortion continues there will never be a solution to the housing crisis or the disproportionate expenses. Israelis will continue to pay for the high cost of food basics, education, and childcare.

The demonstrations should be for a change of government rather than a request that the same government should change its ways. Surely this is a non-starter for change if not futile.
If the demonstrators go out of their way to avoid political issues such as the occupation, discrimination of non-Jewish minorities, preferential treatment of the ultra-Orthodox communities and the illegal settlers in a bid to maintain the coalition of the most divisive and racist government in Israel's history, then the country-wide demonstrations are due to fail, as its message of social parity is really applicable to the Jewish majority only.

The demonstrations gave the impression of a carnival like atmosphere with the appearance of performers and singers pulling the crowds out into the streets. There were even visits by Likud Knesset members to the tent encampments expressing support. This is a paradox and weakens the cause. In any case, Netanyahu knows that his grassroots support remains intact. If elections are held now he will still win. He knows that the issues in the international arena will unite the country and reinforce the ghetto mentality of most Israelis to maintain the status quo.

In reality there is no Israeli summer. It is just a temporary success.

We must remember that the fight for social justice must be all embracing. Under the Netanyahu Government, it is sectarian and exclusive. It is hardly applicable to Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, not to mention Palestinians in occupied territories. This government must go so that social justice can be applicable to all. These are values worth supporting. It can never be achieved under the racist Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak axis. THEY MUST GO VIA THE BALLOT BOX BEFORE THESE IDEALS ARE ACHIEVED! Peace will never be achieved while this axis remains.

An occupying power that has sectarian interests can never achieve social justice even for their own electorate. Not to mention the Israeli Arab Community.

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