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Can Israel's social justice protest movement make a comeback?

Will Israeli masses return to the streets for social justice?

After nearly a month of weekly protests outside the house of Yair Lapid, the new finance minister – numbering about 400 people each and organized by post-#J14 groups for public housing – a much bigger demonstration is planned for Saturday night with more than 10,000 people declaring they will attend on the Facebook event page.

The protests are erupting as Lapid promotes a new budget, which looks much like the one planned by the previous government. It was ultimately public pressure that led the government to scrap the budget and call for elections, in which Lapid got massive support on the ticket of “defender of the middle class.” Lapid supporters feel betrayed by the former TV presenter and columnist, who is about to raise taxes and cut subsidies and government spending instead of tackling the banks, massive corporations and large-scale capitalists. On Saturday they are likely to join opposition forces out on the streets.

Demonstration outside home of Lapid, Thursday night (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Demonstration outside home of Lapid, Thursday night (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

The revival of larger public protests for social justice is accompanied by the same old questions that hung over #J14 in the summer of 2011. While the official event is targeting not only capital but the settlements in the West Bank, and while leftist parties are preparing to make their presence felt on the streets, some are once again calling for the protests to be “a-political” (that is: not to mention the occupation) so as to “allow a wider base of support.” Tensions might also arise between the old and somewhat centrist leadership of the movement and other leaders from the social periphery, who have been constantly active since July 2011. It remains to be seen how these differences will be played out this time around and whether the protests could be hijacked by militarism once again. Saturday night might be a serious test for all these questions, as well as for the movement’s ability to get the masses back out on the streets.

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    1. Philos

      Bibi will not get his Yesh Atid ministers to vote for war 😉

      Reply to Comment
    2. Targeting settler subsidies, if such there be, might be a compromise.

      Reply to Comment
    3. sh

      Do we want a comeback? After a promising start, it nose-dived last time. What’s new now that’ll prevent that happening again?

      Yesterday, Chaim Levinson addressed a really strong Facebook status to those intending to take to the streets again. Hebrew only.
      Perhaps non-Hebrew-speakers will be able to get the gist from an electronic translator.

      If people are not ready to dispense with the trendy pop singers and insistence on avoiding anything “political”, it ain’t gonna happen. We all know where the money really is.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        Well, that isn’t going to happen. Look at what happened in Britain. The protests gained momentum, Tory party HQ was ransacked and boom; the media, the trade unions (even the stodges in the student union), and the “left” parties turned on them. The result – in the final big protest the police beat the shit out of everybody and the student protestors were told it was their fault for not respecting private property in the previous protest.

        Now student activism has been shattered in the UK. The trade unions threaten but won’t do anything. The most ideologically right-wing government in British history is imposing its will without opposition. Education has been privatized and the welfare state shredded, and real wage growth undermined for decades.

        Expect the same here and expect the same sheepishness. We the sheeple deserve the government we get

        Reply to Comment
    4. realist

      Meanwhile, the architect is visiting China.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Witty

      Door to door cooperative organizing is the real movement. On the streets is supportive, but often entertainment more than organizing.

      Reply to Comment
    6. o.w.o

      Best “demonstration” ever will be 70% + of the public simply don’t turn up for work. The whole country takes a sicky (in unison) for a week! … No need for any demonstrations 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    7. sh

      The organizers did dispense with the rally and the pop stars – good omen.

      Reply to Comment
    8. XYZ

      Haggai tell us that we should be “tackling the banks, massive corporations and large-scale capitalists “.

      I have to ask “why”? Are they criminals or something? Once again we are hearing the old Marxist/Socialist line that people who invest and make a profit are automatically “exploiters” and that the state really has the right to control all the money and assets of the country and then it should dole them out to the
      “deserving” which history has already shown are always the friends and relatives of those who have the power do distribute the money.
      For example, people are screaming that “corporations should pay higher taxes than ‘the people'”. The ONLY source of tax revenue is people. While a corporate income tax is legitimate, making it very high will either lead to them firing workers (do “progressives” want that?) or passing the cost on to their customers who will have to pay more.
      Same with Mr Teshuva who is considered some sort of monster because he is pumping out the natural gas who many claim “the people” should own and control. Of course he should pay taxes on it like everyone else, but had he not invested millions of shekels looking for the gas, “the people” wouldn’t even know it is there. Had he be highly taxed and thus driven out of country, NO ONE would get any benefit out of it.
      Enough of this demagoguery.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Philos

      Long queues at ATM machines, longer queues for beer at AMPM and lots of people wearing 100 NIS fedoras from H&M. Not surprising. The same milieu of bored Ashknasim from last time from bourgeois families. Let the summer picnic season begin!

      Reply to Comment
    10. Charles-Jerusalem

      There is a paradox here. On one side, Israel wants to be USA’s little brother: taxing salaries at 50% and taxing revenues from investments at 15%, no security of employment, employees abuse, miserable salaries, big families to feed, necessity to serve in the reserve,…
      You guys must have a look in France, there is there a real leftist culture against liberalism and capitalism, employees there have fought centuries to get social benefits and they don’t want to give them up. They strike, they are angry, they know how to make a big company bend to their demands to leave.
      Us in Israel do not have this culture, we invented individualism and capitalism, this is what we are, in our culture, the state does not provide for us, we have to get up early in the morning and work hard, very hard, we have to take risks, we are trained as creative individuals, entrepreneurs, not employees. Let’s assume our nature and find a balance between having social rights that the state can’t pay for and finding solutions for ourselves.

      Reply to Comment

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