it can’t happen here?

Is Israel having its own version of the Arab Spring? Possibly. In its own inscrutable way, the divisions between Left and Right that are marking American politics are finding political similarities. In fact, status and invidious comparison in the Holy Land seem to dwarf the more established American version. And the discourse between visions is as acrimonious as say mudslinging Stateside elections. Some of the polemics from the right are certainly fodder for a broadway musical. Statements like “leftist secular Israelis demanding a return to the Bolshevik controls of the 1950’s” . All this laced with “Brezhnev-era style country”, “pining for the Soviet Steppes” and “Marxist sociologists… as economic dictator” are inflammatory and subtexted with the notion of self-immolation and self-hatred given the pogroms effectuated by Bolsheviks. If it wasn’t so over the top it could be considered border line hate literature.

---Plaut:The Woodstock on the Yarkon protesters are by and large leftist secularist Israelis demanding a return to the bolshevik controls of the 1950s. They pine for the shortages and the rationing of that era because they figure that in a shortage THEY will be granted priority. image:

Steven Plaut:The media are proclaiming this a dramatic social revolution, something like those revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. One cannot read three sentences in the newspapers or listen to the radio without hearing pontifications about “social justice” and “social revolt.” Indeed, media commentator after media commentator insists that “All Israelis are now leftists,” because leftism is synonymous with the quest for social justice, and Israelis suddenly care out it. Just who told them that the leftist agenda produces social justice is not clear….

It does appear that income disparity from the free market reforms, based on the American model of deregulation has increased overall wealth and in general been deflationary. However, income disparity has widened and the large majority are poor, living a basically third world lifestyle. Though new affluence is apparent, there is not a trickle down effect to the lower and middle strata.

ethan bronner:The tent protest movement dominating Israel for three weeks focuses on the cost of living but is really about something deeper — the nature of the country’s social contract. Many Israelis feel that their sacrifices are not being repaid. ...Israel’s majority Jewish citizens feel they have suppressed their individual needs for the perceived good of the community over the course of many wars. Indeed, the recent protest movement has a recent precedent: the tent-based demonstration of the family of Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, abducted by Hamas and held in Gaza for the past five years. Sergeant Shalit has been one of the few points of collective yearning and accord in an often fractured society, and the protests reflect a belief — rightly or wrongly — that the government has not done all it can to gain his release. Read More:

Plaut:…The Left itself sees the street grumblings over housing as rescuing it from its oblivion. Netanyahu himself has been forced to put everything else on the back burner and concentrate on making public relations gestures to appease and co-opt the tentsters, those bored middle-class-yuppie kids spending their break in between semesters in makeshift protest tents in Israeli city centers. The New Israel Fund provided the tents.

Just what changed so suddenly to persuade so many seemingly rational people that Israel suddenly is in a major housing crisis? I mean, weren’t housing prices also high 6 months ago? So what changed? The answer is – Israelis convinced themselves that the cottage cheese protests held a few weeks back are the solution to economic problems and the only way to produce “social justice.” If you make a lot of noise, get on TV, and whine about how unfortunate you are, you can force the political demagogues to buy you off. So why get a job and work hard and save when you can force Bibi and his chums to provide you with subsidized housing units at well below market prices? If you strip away the codpiece off the set of housing “reform” proposals that the government has been marketing, none of them actually will bring housing prices down. All they really will do is to boost the profit rates of insider construction contractors, those cronies of the politicians who will get sweetheart deals on land sales marketed below market prices.Read More:

---“The protest washing over Israel’s streets and squares today has long ceased to be merely a protest over housing distress,” wrote Israel’s most respected author, Amos Oz, in a front-page essay this week in the newspaper Haaretz. “The heart of this protest is the affront and outrage over the government’s indifference to the people’s suffering, the double standard against the working population and the destruction of social solidarity.” Mr. Oz added that “the first thing these demonstrators are saying, even before ‘social justice’ and ‘down with the government,’ is: ‘we are brethren.’ ” All modern democracies seek to balance collective will and individualism, the force of markets and the power of the state. And every government is accused by its opponents of having abandoned core national values. But in Israel the debate seems more freighted. This is a small and intensely personal state born only decades ago in conflict. ---- Read More: image:

But, it is conceivable that these types of protests could eventually find their way into America or Canada. Technological unemployment is going to be a fact of life and the quantity of have-nots is unfortunately going to rise which is going to create social friction on perhaps a 1930’s style scale.

Meir Margalit:Though our mayor generates processes in his sixth-floor office on Safra Square, they never make it to the ground-floor because he hasn’t grasped that processes are actually generated from below. True processes aren’t nicely designed in air-conditioned offices with a crew of young assistants – the “mayor’s boys,” as they’re known in City Hall. City Hall isn’t a hi-tech firm, nor is it traded on the TASE. That’s why Barkat has failed to deal with the city’s acute problems.

WE’RE LIVING in a deprived city, where poverty is spreading like wil

e, with many citizens already beneath the poverty line or teetering on its edges….

…I often think, well okay, so he doesn’t do much to help the poor, but why make their lives more difficult, for heaven’s sake? Take his strategy: “deeper billing.” It’s a smart term, from the Hebrew language-launderette, a codename for gross and violent intrusion into citizens’ pockets. It’s a policy that sees a relentless pursuit of people, using legal threat and action. In a council meeting on Thursday, it was revealed that in 2010 alone, the municipality had liens on more than 90,000 bank accounts! I can personally attest to the humiliation involved in this process generated by Barkat from his sixth-floor office….

---Some politicians from the governing Likud party have accused her of serving as a mouthpiece for the left; others denounced the protest as catering to spoiled millennials. Leef herself is the daughter of the globally acclaimed composer Yinam Leef, but she becomes agitated when she addresses her own background or that of those who join her in protest. “This protest is a-partisan, a-gender, a-everything,” Leef told me. “Anyone who tries to narrow it is either afraid or has been misled by the media.” Tent dwellers aren’t saying they can’t afford to get by, just that they can’t afford to live in the city. And the protesters contend that Israel has no Brooklyn or Scarsdale equivalent. One of them, Shlomo Krauss, criticized the outskirts of Israel for “their dubious infrastructure, failing public transportation and zero employment opportunities” in a widely circulated op-ed laying out the protesters’ gripes, with the headline, “Don’t call us spoiled.” By “outskirts” Israelis typically refer to the small towns just outside of the Tel Aviv area, such as Holon, Petah Tikvah, and Kfar Saba. There is also the so-called “periphery”; namely, the Galilee in the north and the Negev in the south—areas ridden with poverty and inadequate transportation. Read more

…Who are the people suffering? The ones who live in the poorest neighborhoods of this city, of course.

Yes, some affluent people evade paying city tax, and they must be dealt with properly. But if the mayor took time to analyze who makes up most of those defaulting on their bills, he would see that they’re the ones who barely make it to the end of the month.

They don’t pay city tax not because they’re delinquents, but because month after month, they wrack their brains to find ways to pay the rent, the mortgage, dental treatment, winter coats for the kids. Read More:

---So what did Leef do to bring her such national attention? She got chucked out of her flat. And then wrote on Facebook. Just over a month ago she was told that she needed to leave her Tel Aviv apartment because the building was slated for redevelopment. She started looking for a new home, and was shocked to find how expensive rents had become. "I called up a friend and said, 'I'm setting up a tent'," she recalls. "He said I should calm down." But she did not calm down - instead she opened a Facebook "event", inviting people to erect tents in central Tel Aviv to protest against high housing prices.---Read More:

Mr. Grossman was on the front page of the biggest-selling newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, on Friday, saying that last Saturday night he joined protesters in Jerusalem — some 150,000 people took part across the country — and that at first he felt discomfort over playing the role of a member of the revolutionary masses.

Then he wrote: “But after a few steps something happens, gets into the blood. The rhythm, the movement, the togetherness. Not a threatening, faceless ‘unity,’ but mosaic-like and messy, like a family, with a strong feeling of — here we are, doing the right thing. And then the shock comes — where were we up to now? How did we let this happen?” Read More:

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