Ronen Shamir: A Simple/simplistic short guide to the current wave of popular protests in Israel

A Simple/simplistic short guide to the current wave of popular protests in Israel


Some Israelis simply couldn’t bear it no more.  People of the self-designated “only democracy in the Middle East” looked around them and lo and behold: Arabs are coming out to the streets, risk their lives for the sake of regime-change, and even seem to succeed in doing so.   A subtle but clear hush of envy has been ruffling with the summer winds of Tel-Aviv for some quite time.  And then there is the “left”.  The “left” is perceived and understood in one way alone in Israel: those who more or less concede that Israel should compromise with Palestinians.  In other words, the “left” is almost anyone, including the nationalist ruling party.   Only words.  And then there is the “radical left”.  The radical left is made of people who think that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essentially a return to the 1967 borders and the dismantling of the Jewish settlement in the West Bank (honestly, quite unrealistic short of a civil war).

2011 Israeli housing protests – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia VIA

We are talking here about a few thousand  Jews and a few hundred thousand Palestinian citizens of Israel but the latter are only counted as citizens on paper, with almost next to none political influence.  And then there is a society that has by and large completely enslaved itself to the neo-liberal framework often adopting its most vulgar and cynical versions.  Many people feel they were left out of the celebration (of consumerism and real-estate ownership).  Correction.  Most of the Israeli public has been left out of the celebration for years.  But these are the poor, those who really hardly get by.  They do not have a political power anyway.  But now it is the middle-class wanna-be’s that feel they can’t get enough of what they want.  It is called relative deprivation.  But the deprivation is a high-end one, basically seeking to enter the game rather than to transform it.  Ironically, the way to do it ? at least in demonstration and protests on the street ? is by demanding a return to a welfare state.

Tel Aviv “tent city” (Photo: Oded Bality; AP) via

  Even more ironically, the slogan is “social justice”.  Social justice, no less, and this in a society that is daily robbing and enslaving an entire Palestinian population on “the other side” of the “Green Line”: in no-where land where millions are deprived of their land, their property, and their dignity.  There are some honest people among the protesters who try to make the connection: where did all the money go? It went from education, and health, and housing, and public services, to the occupied territories, to Jewish settlers who receive land, and houses, and infrastructures, and social services from the treasury of the State; to buying tanks.  But hush, one should not say it aloud: this is ‘political’, namely, this is a ‘radical left’.  Hush hush, maybe the protesters will make this link on their own, after all this is so obvious, sometimes, eventually.  Maybe.  Inshalla.  I am skeptical.  And it has been a while since I wanted so much to be wrong; to look back and say I was a blind sociologist.

Israel’s housing protesters: Bibi go home

As tent cities pop up across country, 150,000 marchers show solidarity and PM promises panel to fix the problem.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.