Monday, June 25, 2012

Israel's Social Protests No Longer Represent Me

As a Zionist, and someone immensely proud of Israel's deeply engrained democracy, with all the inherent freedoms of a true democratic society, I was deeply moved by last Summer's social protest movement here in Israel. I felt that it was a movement of the people, representing the breadth of Israeli society, especially the Middle Classes. It represented me & my struggles with getting on the housing ladder; the insanely high price of basic food products, the untenable cost of childcare and much more. I marched through the center of Jerusalem with thousands of other young parents, middle aged families, religous and secular. There was never any sense that there would be violence, and in fact I saw people pick up trash as they marched! As Britain was engulfed by rioting thugs, Israel literally marched to the sound of democratic freedoms. The Israeli consumer discovered unknown muscles, the Israeli Middle class not only found it's voice, but learned to shout.

As this summer's protests begin, I can see that that our voices have been diverted to a new unpleasant agenda that has no bearing on my life or my hopes and aspirations as a middle class Israeli: Radicals such as Dafni Leef have stolen the leadership, the angry anarchists & bored students are the ones turning out and causing trouble and the needs of myself and my peers are being ignored. People like me don't want to be associated with raiding banks, blocking streets and fighting police. We won't attend the marches or listen to Leef and her cohorts use the protests as a launch pad for their own political careers. She wants the protests in Israel to mirror the ridiculous 'Occupy' movement in the US, achieving nothing but notoriety and violence. She isn't even close to the same page as I am. {photo: Dafni Leef arrested last week at protest}

Last Summer the protests were about creating a society where hard work pays off; where wages are commensurate with the cost of living, where parents have the financial ability to work one job and have time for their kids. It was about dialogue & communication and was never about confrontation. If Israel's protest are simply to be 'Occupy Israel', I'm out and so are all my friends and I am really angry about it. We supported the protests last year because we needed to be heard and we still do. How dare Leef steal our voice just as we had learned to use it!


  1. I received an email from someone who disagrees with this blog, but had problems posting a comment.I'm happy to have a dissenting view so here's the comment:

    I got here via your #J14 tweet. I am surprised and annoyed by your weird view of the protest, and frankly it sounds almost skewed on purpose.

    Where are you getting your news? Can you read Hebrew? I suggest you get it on the social nets rather than the plutocracy-owned papers. Daphne Leef is not really a radical, she has not stolen the protest - she's the one who started it. She's the model of pacifism and yet she got the sh*t kicked out of her by the police, unprovoked, and there are youtube vids that show it.

    Last weekend's protest was not even about social justice, it was against police brutality and breaching of our freedom of speech (no, our democracy is not well established nor "deeply engrained")

    Fact: 3000 people were protesting in the streets.
    Fact: the front window of a bank was smashed.
    Nobody in the J14 leadership said it was acceptable, most of them specifically spoke against it. I'm against it and yesterday I was in the street as part of the protest, I believe most of us there are against violence. The police hasn't charged anyone yet for the vandalism, and none of the protesters even saw who did it. No CCTV footage was released by the police. Are you starting to smell a conspiracy here?

    But the proof is in the ointment. The police couldn't and hadn't charged anyone with the bank vandalism, could not prove a single protester attacked any officer, never showed a single "rock thrown at an officer". The court released everyone for lack of evidence, even though the police were heavily equipped with cameras. Since then, they guarded the perimeter of several protests and surprise - nobody broke lines and nobody got arrested. We calmly proved the violence was initiated only by the police of "the only democracy in the middle east". We are civilised, reasonable, pacifist, just and on topic. Calling us radicals and violent is believing Bibi's propaganda (or knowingly promoting it).

    As for goals - I haven't really dug into the American occupy movement's demands or messages. I DO know that the Israeli protests have a clear agenda, you can read it here if your Hebrew is good enough, economists and lawyers worked for a long time on the whitepapers and manifesto:

    Calling us a bunch of violent anarchists is a cheap, inexcusable lie. I wish you don't buy into it nor spread it like that.


  2. Thanks for the input Ira. let me say that I based my blog on what I was an am observing across most of my friends here in Jerusalem who last year supported the social protests. I wrote the blog after last week's violent protests, and I spoke to some of my journalist colleagues before posting. I viewed some raw video of the protests, and I've read a number of the speeches. You can argue all you like that I am wrong, but last year J14 had the hearts and minds of middle class Israelis, so far this year J14 does not.
    I believe that as long as radicals like Dafni Leef are hijacking the public debate and media time, the social protests will fail to achieve their original goals and will do little or nothing to deal with the issues I care about.