Over 150,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv yesterday, joining the thousands more protesting the policies behind soaring housing prices in Israel. Unfortunately, and with all due respect, the movement in its current state is flawed and deserves to be recognized as such until it demands an end to all unfair civil policies in Israel, including the ones targeting Arabs.
The demonstrations began on 14 July 2011 when dozens of Israeli citizens pitched tents in central Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to protest the high costs of housing and basic living expenses. In the two weeks following the establishment of these tent cities, the protests grew much larger in both participation and scope due in part to increased media attention as well as growing frustration with the government’s refusal to meet the protesters’ demands.
No longer are protesters focusing their efforts on just the expensive costs of owning a home. The message now brings attention to poor working conditions, high costs of education, unaffordable food expenses, and rising gas prices. According to one unnamed protester interviewed for a Russian Times newscast, “it’s becoming impossible to live here [in Israel].”
This is true – but only if it refers to everybody, Israelis and non-Israelis alike.
Rallying for social justice is a noble concept, an ideal one at that. But if the grassroots movement ignores specific aspects of social progress or limits justice to a certain group of people, especially when the issue lies so central to the political messes Israel finds itself in, it is not a movement worth joining or even championing. [Read more...]