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Monday Aug. 1, 2011 3:23 PM (EST+7)
COMMENT: Maybe Israelis aren't really seeking social justice after all

Read more: Israeli politics, July 14, demonstrations, protests, housing, Tel Aviv, social justice, Arab revolts, occupation, housing

RAMALLAH, August 1 (JMCC) - Blogger Dahlia Scheindlin says she tried several times, to no avail, to ask Tel Aviv's protesters about their positions on Israel's occupation. 

Many are saying that this is something new, especially after Saturday night turned into Israel’s largest-ever social protest, as Maariv’s print headline proclaimed. A new language is being developed: silent hand gestures replace Israeli shouting matches. The hyper-fragmented groups in Israel are listening to each other, hammering out common ground to combat shared economic desperation.

Just don’t mention Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, or even the neutral local euphemism “medini” [lit: political/diplomatic] issues. Just leave out the institutional inequality most Palestinian citizens of Israel experience here – inequality of other groups is welcome.

I learned this the hard way. After a number of conversations with protesters, including some of its organizers (the protests are actually notably non-cohesive) – it became very clear that one of the top strategic goals is to avoid being branded as “left.” Joseph feels the environment around this topic is so toxic, he has tried to avoid even raising questions about why a ‘social justice revolution’ does not address the inequality of all those living under Israeli control. Even soft questions are meant with hard responses from many who passionately demand that the protests be given time, space and compassion to grow inside Israeli society.

In this revolution, strategic thinking says that the current government can delegitimize the protest by making it looks like lefties. The whole country will believe the government, because everybody hates the left. Indeed, the Prime Minister tried just this, branding them left-wing rabble rousers in the very first week. He failed – perhaps because of the revolutionary success in focusing on social issues only.

If the protests are labeled “left,” in revolutionary thinking, then ergo they are either – a. a conspiracy to overthrow the current government by opposition parties or groups (which somehow delegitimizes the policy goals), or b. a conspiracy by anti-Israel leftists to tie everything back to the occupation and force this or any government to cave in to the Palestinians. The revolution is too important to be branded.







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