Monday, June 04, 2012
Renewal of Social Protest Movement
So I was there Saturday night. This is from what I wrote about it in the online "Times of Israel":
There was a lot of energy in the air in Tel Aviv last night, as over 10,000 demonstrators gathered at Habima Square, next to Rothschild Boulevard, where it all began in the summer of 2011. Smaller demonstrations also took place in Haifa and Jerusalem. ...
People were equipped with pots and pans, banging away to accompany the rhythmic shouts of “The people demand social justice.” Blue and white Israeli flags mingled with red flags of the revolution and green flags of the Meretz Party. Signs demanded a return of the welfare state, “We are the 99%!” echoing the slogan of the Occupy movement around the world, and a number of demonstrators even carried an iconic tent, recalling the tent cities that sprouted like mushrooms in Tel Aviv and throughout the country last year.
…. Some speakers sent barbs to the leadership: “Has anyone seen (Kadima leader) Shaul Mofaz in the audience, who claimed after he was elected that ‘he would lead the protest movement’?! And Ehud Barak, who [like Mofaz] was elected as head of the Labor Party to be an opposition to the government and its policies, and then stole the seats to create the Atzmaut Party and remain in government? And what about Prime Minister Netanyahu, who called for elections and then beat a hasty retreat?” ….
We have to go beyond protest, to organization
Two Haifa activists, one Jewish and one Arab, stood side by side, and issued a powerful call for mobilization and change. The Jewish activist said that “we have to go beyond protest, to organization”. He called on people to become involved in national Social Guard groups, which are monitoring the activists of the Knesset committees, and the local Social Guard groups, that monitor municipal activity. He also called on people to join consumer’s rights groups, and to become active politically. “We will not allow people to divide the protest movement from the people who live in the disadvantaged neighborhoods, by attempts to foment racism and fear” he declared. His Arab colleague declared that “we will build a new society, for all Israelis, and we will not allow anyone to create divisions between Jews and Arabs, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, men and women.” ....
The Occupation, an invisible concept no longer
And unlike last summer, the Occupation was not an invisible concept, the elephant in the room that no one mentioned. One man carried a sign saying “The occupation prevents me from having an apartment”. And two speakers on the stage said that the money being poured into the settlements should be channeled towards social justice needs.
With her fiery red hair, social protest leader Stav Shafir personified the link between the face of last summer’s mass movement, and the new revival. She declared confidently that “we will not go away, and we will win!” ….
Although others may have been present, the only MKs I saw in the crowd were Zahava Galon and Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz, and Dov Henin of Hadash. …
The organizers are gearing towards a huge mass demonstration on Saturday July 14th, the anniversary of the setting up of the first protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard in the summer of 2011. ...
Read the full article online at the Times of Israel website.