Saturday, August 6

The Israeli Summer

July and August are the hottest months in Israel. The temperatures are in the mid thirties to forties with an uncomfortable humidity of close to 70%. Tempers are frayed and people are feeling the heat.

Many people are on holiday and public places are overcrowded. "Tent cities" within the main cities have sprung up like mushrooms - beginning in Ave Rothschild in Tel Aviv and spreading like wild fire to the periphery, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Kiryat Shmona as more and more people of every political viewpoint rally in unison to demonstrate.

It started as a protest against the outrageous rental prices making it almost impossible for young people to rent apartments. It then snowballed into including social and economic gripes of almost every sector in the country. Israel is in the midst of a doctors' strike, this issue has joined up with the protesters, whose salaries, and living expenses for basics is not commensurate with their earnings.

In the coming weeks, the protests will reach its zenith and the disruption of traffic will increase. Mothers wheeling their babies in prams of all sizes joining the fray, protesting over the high cost of disposable diapers, alternative milk formulae and crèches. The salaries are not keeping pace with the increasing cost of living.

The Histadrut (Trade Unions) have joined the demonstrations and this could herald the end of the protests. The protests are justified and are deserving of our support. The partnership of the Netanyahu coalition and wealthy tycoons has produced a heartless capitalism, insensitive to the struggling middle class which are being forced into eventual poverty. The wage earner who works in factories and contract laborers will have it even worse, especially foreign workers who have almost no representation at all.

It is absurd to say that the struggle is non-political. It is political as it is the result of deliberate neglect of the salaried employee by not only the Likud coalition but also the preceding Israeli governments. It is just that the situation deteriorated further as the distribution of wealth became more unequal thanks to the tycoonization of the Israeli economy and adoption of the maximum greed that capitalism has to offer.

Israel has a monstrous dinosaur in its midst which retains all the land that can be released at the pace of a slow intravenous drip keeping the prices high at the will and whim of tycoons with their greedy profit motives. The awful burocratic institution that ensures high prices is the Israel Lands Authority. This cancer keeps the prices high - a boon to tycoons who can buy this land as it is released for high prices and reselling for massive profits for even higher prices. This is the one side of the coin. Here we have a perfect example of a lucrative partnership between the various Israel Governments and the tycoons. The victims are the citizens of Israel who find it almost impossible to purchase or rent an apartment at reasonable prices.

Another factor that keeps the prices high of almost every commodity is the occupation. The expense of maintaining the occupation is astronomical. The IDF has to be on the alert to maintain this illegal and immoral enterprise is astronomical. A government that screws the Palestinian people will eventually screw its own citizens. The price for denying the Palestinians the right for an independent state will be paid for by Israeli citizens in increased taxes, higher prices for essential goods and general cost of living expenses.
Despite these demonstrations, we must bear in mind the looming of September and the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in the UN General Assembly. Netanyahu will exploit this as a threat to Israel's existence, thus throwing the ball into the hands of the Histadrut. The Histadrut will then fall for Bibi Netanyahu's ruse and withdrew its support for the demonstrations. The protests will decrease in intensity, things will return to normal, and it will be business as usual with hardly a dent to support of the occupation mongering Netanyahu coalition.

The settlers who live in occupied Palestinian lands get subsidies from the government to build. The claim that all the protests are non-political is insipid. What is happening is very political indeed. All political parties are using the demonstrations for their own advantage. Yesterday we witnessed two right wing louts - MK Michael Ben Ari and Itamar Ben Gvir exploiting their own racist causes. They made a call for increasing settlement in the occupied territories as a solution for the high rentals and cost of living.

The “non-political” demonstrations are no threat to the present government will achieve very little if anything. The leadership of the demonstrations even stated that that they do not seek the downfall of the Netanyahu coalition. On Saturday evening 6th August 2011 there were over 300 000 demonstrators in the streets of Tel Aviv including other cities and towns in Israel.

It is unlikely that this will change the political power in Israel apart from giving it a bit of a shaking.

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