The big protests in Israel

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vici10

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This is a third week of big protests in Israel. The protests are about high cost of living and social justice. Yesterday, more than 300,000 people marched on streets in protest. This is probably the biggest protests in Israel history. People have banners saying “This is Egypt”. Previous week, 100,000 people took to streets all over Israel. And before this, there were 'stroller marches' of parents with kids, protesting against high cost of raising children. Urban tent camps mushroomed across Israeli cities,

The protesters are mostly Jewish Israelis but they were joined by Arab Israelis. It seems that social inequality is increasing in Israel and neoliberal reforms of Netanyahu that are destroying social safety net are not very popular in Israel. It seems that middle class is fed up with this and went on mass protests.
The information about protests can be found in Haaretz news:
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/more-than-300-000-demonstrate-across-israel-to-protest-high-cost-of-living-1.377295" [Broken]
New-York times:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/world/middleeast/07jerusalem.html?_r=1&ref=world"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5dsNvcNY7Q
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I believe it is not getting big media attention at present.

It seems like an emerging trend to go out and protest. I hope the protests don't go out of control of the government.
 
  • #3
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things are certainly getting interesting. and given the recent anti-democratic boycott law, it's a welcome sign to hear some of the liberals are rising up. i guess i'll have to try and catch up, as i haven't been following closely lately. all i know is that the right there has been getting pretty rowdy of late, and there's the palestinian statehood vote coming up in the UN next month. so things are bound to get interesting.

high real estate, eh? i guess they're talking about stuff like that "White City" in Tel Aviv?
 
  • #4
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things are certainly getting interesting. and given the recent anti-democratic boycott law, it's a welcome sign to hear some of the liberals are rising up. i guess i'll have to try and catch up, as i haven't been following closely lately. all i know is that the right there has been getting pretty rowdy of late, and there's the palestinian statehood vote coming up in the UN next month. so things are bound to get interesting.

high real estate, eh? i guess they're talking about stuff like that "White City" in Tel Aviv?
I'm not that familiar - is this adding significantly to the downturn in their equities market?
 
  • #5
Evo
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Off topic speculative posts will be deleted. Please remain on topic.
 
  • #6
vici10
high real estate, eh? i guess they're talking about stuff like that "White City" in Tel Aviv?
Not exactly, the protests are all over the country, even in such provincial towns as Ashkelon, Beer-Sheva and Kiryat-Shmona. There is no rent control in Israel and rent skyrocketed in recent years all across the country. Puting large amount of money in building new settlements and security for these settlements does not help ever. It puts even more stress on housing problem inside Israel. The other thing is that during Netanyahu amount of public housing available has dropped significantly, while very few new units have been built.
 
  • #8
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This is a third week of big protests in Israel. The protests are about high cost of living and social justice. Yesterday, more than 300,000 people marched on streets in protest. This is probably the biggest protests in Israel history. People have banners saying “This is Egypt”. Previous week, 100,000 people took to streets all over Israel. And before this, there were 'stroller marches' of parents with kids, protesting against high cost of raising children. Urban tent camps mushroomed across Israeli cities,

The protesters are mostly Jewish Israelis but they were joined by Arab Israelis. It seems that social inequality is increasing in Israel and neoliberal reforms of Netanyahu that are destroying social safety net are not very popular in Israel. It seems that middle class is fed up with this and went on mass protests.
The information about protests can be found in Haaretz news:
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/more-than-300-000-demonstrate-across-israel-to-protest-high-cost-of-living-1.377295" [Broken]
New-York times:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/world/middleeast/07jerusalem.html?_r=1&ref=world"
So, they're protesting their economic system, and they want more government welfare? Is Israel able to do anything significant wrt the latter? Will Netanyahu and his ilk be voted out?
 
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  • #9
vici10
So, they're protesting their economic system, and they want more government welfare?
Yes, they demand social justice. Many middle class Israelis find it increasingly difficult to pay for rent, food, clothes, education and childcare. For example, before late 80s, homelessness was non-existent in Israel. From late 80s, the homelessness started to rise. This coincided with neo-liberal policies, big scale privatization and immigration. About homelessness:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness_in_Israel" [Broken]
According to OECD report:
At one in five of the population, Israel has the second highest income poverty rate in the
OECD after Mexico, and is well above the OECD average of 11.1%. 39% of Israelis find it
difficult or very difficult to live on their current income, well above the OECD average of
24%.
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/38/50/47573464.pdf" [Broken]
Is Israel able to do anything significant wrt the latter?
I do not know. Historically, changes happened in history, social systems changed before. We shall see.
Will Netanyahu and his ilk be voted out?
Demonstrators say that they do not focus particularly on Netanyahu, they do not want one or another personality in power. They want system change. Although, Netanyahu is known for his neo-liberal polices, especially when he was finance minister. In Haaretz, there is article titled: “Knesset may not complete its tenure due to Israel's social protests.”
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/knesset-may-not-complete-its-tenure-due-to-israel-s-social-protests-1.377477" [Broken]
 
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  • #10
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@ vici10
Thanks for the links. I had no idea that Israel was having such problems. Seems like a lot of the current Knesset might well be losing their jobs.
 
  • #11
mheslep
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It seems that social inequality is increasing in Israel and neoliberal reforms of Netanyahu that are destroying social safety net are not very popular in Israel....
That Netanyahu is intentionally 'destroying' the 'social safety net' would seem to mean an elimination or at least severe curtailment of some government benefit or transfer payment. There's no mention of either in the two references. There are several references to burdensome increased cost of living, etc. So to what are you referring?
 
  • #12
vici10
That Netanyahu is intentionally 'destroying' the 'social safety net' would seem to mean an elimination or at least severe curtailment of some government benefit or transfer payment. There's no mention of either in the two references. There are several references to burdensome increased cost of living, etc. So to what are you referring?
I am referring to perception in Israel about Netanyahu. He is considered to be a champion of neo-liberal polices that include cutting welfare, cutting taxes and massive privatization. It is more difficult to find a good survey of Netanyahu's welfare cuts in English. I do not know if you read Hebrew. The link below provides some (not complete) survey in English of Netanyahu reforms.
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/netanyahu-s-economy-the-third-phase-1.279318" [Broken]
The partial list of Netanyahu's welfare cuts can be found on Hebrew wikipedia, unfortunately the English version is shorter and does not contain the details, but I will translate it here:
He changed the criteria for receiving welfare benefits ("transfer payments"), and led to cutting the National Insurance. The purpose of this policy was said to encourage people living from welfare to work. The cut of the child allowance was particularly acute, and is made possible by the fact that ultra-Orthodox parties, which traditionally acted to increase this allowance (eg Halpert Law), Likud were not part of the coalition. Child allowance cuts hit mostly Orthodox and Arab sectors, where there is a relatively high birth rate. More cuts in welfare benefits hit single mothers as well as mothers generally, the unemployed, the elderly (some of them also had a cut of 2% due to the nationalization of pension funds), and evoked a wave of public sector strikes and protests such as that of Vicky Knafo.

Privatization: During his tenure, several government-controlled companies were transferred to private enterprises. In 2003, stocks of “El-Al” were issued that permitted the group of brothers Dedi and Izzy Borovich to take over the company. In early 2004 the state sold its shares in the shipping company "Zim" (50% of the company) to the Israel Corporation, controlled by brothers Juli and Sammy Ofer for half a billion. The move, dubbed "Shakshuka deal", aroused much public criticism, and was written on a comment in the report of the State Comptroller. Controlling interest in Discount Bank was sold to a group of investors led by Matthew Bronfman, for NIS (New Isreali Shekels) 1.3 billion, approximately 80% of the market value on the stock price at the time traded on the stock exchange. Telecommunication Company "Bezek" was sold to a group led by Haim Saban and Apax, at a price close to the value traded. Netanyahu continued attempts of his predecessors and successor in selling the controlling interest in Bank Leumi, but in 2008 the bank was not in private hands.

(My note, as one can see from Haaretz article above, this privatization led to creation of tycoons. Also many government services were privatized.)

He froze the value of tax credits, and thus hit the main tool used to take care the parts of the population who are considered to need tax relief. (This would include single parent families, parents of disabled children, immigrants and more).

Netanyahu spoke a lot about the need to cut the public sector, and he compared the economy to a skinny guy, [private sector] carrying on his back the fat man [public sector].
http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%91%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%9F_%D7%A0%D7%AA%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%94%D7%95" [Broken]

Of course, Netanyahu was not the first who introduced neo-liberal reforms in Israel. But they seem to have been the biggest. I am merely talking about perception of Netanyahu by Israelis and the reasons for that perception. And I guess, judging by these huge protests, probably the biggest in Israeli history, people do not like such polices.
 
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  • #13
CAC1001
So they believe it is the government's job to provide housing in Israel? Don't they have a real-estate industry in that country? :confused: Developers could make lots of money building cheap, affordable housing for the masses. What is causing the high cost of living in the country? I also do not believe rent control is the solution, as rent control is a price control and one that usually results in few new units being built. This happened in New York City.
 
  • #14
vici10
So they believe it is the government's job to provide housing in Israel? Don't they have a real-estate industry in that country? :confused: Developers could make lots of money building cheap, affordable housing for the masses. What is causing the high cost of living in the country? I also do not believe rent control is the solution, as rent control is a price control and one that usually results in few new units being built. This happened in New York City.
The problem is that land privatization created few tycoons(families), they control the market. And it seems that they do not want to build affordable housing.

And another reason is that people are angry that goverment spends so much money on building settlements and security for these settlements on occupied territories instead investing this money into building affordable housing inside Israel.
 
  • #15
CAC1001
The problem is that land privatization created few tycoons(families), they control the market. And it seems that they do not want to build affordable housing.
Was reading in Wall Street Journal article on the protests, it said that the protesters are not for returning Israel to the socialist eocnomy it had back in the 1950s and 1960s, but want the government to do things to create more competition in such industries and work to increase equal access to public education, and so forth.
 
  • #16
vici10
Was reading in Wall Street Journal article on the protests, it said that the protesters are not for returning Israel to the socialist eocnomy it had back in the 1950s and 1960s, but want the government to do things to create more competition in such industries and work to increase equal access to public education, and so forth.
It is impossible to return to 1950s and 1960s, the circumstances are different. It does not matter how one calls the polices, socialist or capitalist. People want affordable housing, daycares, affordable food, education etc. The present polices of the goverment that last already for more than a decade (such for example, as mass privatization that led to creation of family tycoons) clearly do not satisfy the basic needs of Israeli population.
 
  • #17
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1
The problem is that land privatization created few tycoons(families), they control the market. And it seems that they do not want to build affordable housing.

And another reason is that people are angry that goverment spends so much money on building settlements and security for these settlements on occupied territories instead investing this money into building affordable housing inside Israel.
i think i'm starting to get a little bit better picture of what is going on. the government has been investing in cheap, affordable housing. just not in Tel Aviv. the people getting support are the settlers moving into the west bank.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-editio...e-cost-israel-17-billion-study-finds-1.265190

and above you mentioned this:
He changed the criteria for receiving welfare benefits ("transfer payments"), and led to cutting the National Insurance. The purpose of this policy was said to encourage people living from welfare to work. The cut of the child allowance was particularly acute, and is made possible by the fact that ultra-Orthodox parties, which traditionally acted to increase this allowance (eg Halpert Law), Likud were not part of the coalition. Child allowance cuts hit mostly Orthodox and Arab sectors, where there is a relatively high birth rate. More cuts in welfare benefits hit single mothers as well as mothers generally, the unemployed, the elderly (some of them also had a cut of 2% due to the nationalization of pension funds), and evoked a wave of public sector strikes and protests such as that of Vicky Knafo.
but are the ultra orthodox really getting squeezed yet? it doesn't look like they are the ones out protesting now. in fact:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/29/world/middleeast/29israel.html

JERUSALEM — Chaim Amsellem was certainly not the first Parliament member to suggest that most ultra-Orthodox men should work rather than receive welfare subsidies for full-time Torah study. But when he did so last month, the nation took notice: He is a rabbi, ultra-Orthodox himself, whose outspokenness ignited a fresh, and fierce, debate about the rapid growth of the ultra-religious in Israel.

“Torah is the most important thing in the world,” Rabbi Amsellem said in an interview. But now more than 60 percent of ultra-Orthodox men in Israel do not work, compared with 15 percent in the general population, and he argued that full-time, state-financed study should be reserved for great scholars destined to become rabbis or religious judges.
just how many of these guys are still on the dole?

it seems that a large part of this is that government services and planning have been diverted to the religious right. and most of these people protesting, the secular left, are the ones getting squeezed by these policies. the current world economic situation has simply accelerated the problem and brought it all to a head.
 
  • #18
vici10
i think i'm starting to get a little bit better picture of what is going on. the government has been investing in cheap, affordable housing. just not in Tel Aviv. the people getting support are the settlers moving into the west bank.
This is correct.

but are the ultra orthodox really getting squeezed yet? it doesn't look like they are the ones out protesting now.
It is true, that most protesters are not ultra-orthodox, but the welfare cuts also hit another sectors of population such as pensioners for example. And they(pensioners) are protesting.
Hundreds of pensioners staged a protest at the Tel Aviv government compound (Kiryat Hamemshala) on Monday, demanding the government lower medicine costs, cancel VAT on basic necessities and prevent a cut in their pensions.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/knesset-to-hold-emergency-session-as-israel-s-social-protest-grows-1.377594" [Broken]
Child allowances cuts hit not only ultra-ortodox jews, but also Arabs, especially Bedouins who usually have more children. In these protests Israeli Jews demonstrate together with Israeli Arabs. Israels in general have more children than in other OECD countries. Average secular Israeli family usually has three children.
There were other cuts as well, such as cuts of graduate students stipends and many protesters are students. One should also notice that university students in Israel are usually older than their American peers. This is due to military service that lasts 3 years and is usually served just after high-school. Since students are older, they are more likely to have families, and with cuts in stipends, increasing tuition and high rent it is becoming increasingly difficult to live.
Another issue of protesters is childcare. The childcare in Israel can be equal or even more than rent. That is why there were “stroller marches”. If family cannot afford daycare it forces women to stay at home. And this, in turn leads to increase in poverty and discrimination.
http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=231482" [Broken]
Protests started with housing issue, but they seem to grow and incorporate many other issues.

just how many of these guys are still on the dole?
Regarding ultra-orthodox jews, they do get some small stipend for studying torah. Wives usually either work outside or take care of many children, meanwhile men study. Honestly, I do not know how they survive on the small stipend and income of their wives. I guess they get support from the community.
There are 100,000 men studying in yeshivot, sponsored by the government. Men studing in these yeshivot get 10,260 shekels per year, which is around 2,900 dollars per year. Some of them get additional small stipend.
Most Israelis do not like ultra-orthodox, because they do not work and do not serve in the army. Around 70% of Israeli would like to cut stipends to ultra-orthodox.
http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/9/1664347" [Broken]

Ironicaly, some ultra-orthodox Jews do not recognize state of Israel and they are anti-zionist.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haredim_and_Zionism" [Broken]
 
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  • #19
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It seems like an emerging trend to go out and protest. I hope the protests don't go out of control of the government.
In any democratic society, the people ARE the government. If a significant proportion of the people are unhappy with government policies, then it is the government that is out of control. People should control the government. The government should not control the people.
 
  • #20
mheslep
Gold Member
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Most Israelis do not like ultra-orthodox, because they do not work and do not serve in the army. Around 70% of Israeli would like to cut stipends to ultra-orthodox.
http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/9/1664347" [Broken]...
vici10, how do you support the statement 'most Israelis do not like ultra-orthodox.'? This may very well be the case for all I know but that link does not contain any such statement. Do you spend much time in Israel?
 
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  • #21
Hurkyl
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The government should not control the people.
Controlling people is one of the basic functions expected and required from a government (e.g. a criminal justice system). You do the discussion a disservice, I think, by oversimplifying like this.
 
  • #22
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Controlling people is one of the basic functions expected and required from a government (e.g. a criminal justice system). You do the discussion a disservice, I think, by oversimplifying like this.
Maintaining law and order is most certainly one of the things that we expect from our government. That, however, is a long way from "controlling the people". I see the latter as the sort of thing envisaged in "1984" and practiced in many oppressive societies today.

After all, I'm sure that Bashar Assad and Muammar Qaddafi would both argue that they are merely "controlling the people"--as would Hitler, Stalin, and a host of other dictators.

The people have a right to protest against government decisions. If the government tries to quell peaceful protests with force, then the people have the right to use force in return. That's how the United States got its start.

The American revolutionaries were not well-behaved law-abiding types. Many were the sweepings of the British criminal justice system and fugitive indentured servants. As General Gates said after reviewing Washington's assembled troops, "I don't know whether they will scare the British, but they sure as hell scare me!"
 
  • #23
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The people have a right to protest against government decisions. If the government tries to quell peaceful protests with force, then the people have the right to use force in return.
I agree with this. These recent massive protests are a wonderful thing, imho, and I hope that they increase and result in better lives for the common people. But that's probably just wishful thinking.
 
  • #24
vici10
vici10, how do you support the statement 'most Israelis do not like ultra-orthodox.'? This may very well be the case for all I know but that link does not contain any such statement. Do you spend much time in Israel?
Please read carefully, the sentence and link that you cite from me. I said:
vici10 said:
Most Israelis do not like ultra-orthodox, because they do not work and do not serve in the army. Around 70% of Israeli would like to cut stipends to ultra-orthodox.
http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/9/1664347
I repeat again, Israelis do not like that many ultra-orthodox do not work and do not serve in the army. According to polls, 70% of public would like to cut support that goes for ultra-orthodox yeshivot in order to force ultra-orthodox to go to work. You can find this information in the link above. Regarding army service and relation of Israeli public to Ultra-orthodox, one can find the results of the polls here http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3885786,00.html"

There is also so called “status quo” in Israel, the elements of religious state, that still exist in Israel. Some Israelis do not like religious dictate over parts of their lives. For the introduction to this problem, one can read wikipedia article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Israel" [Broken]
The religious status quo, agreed upon by David Ben-Gurion with the religious parties at the time of the declaration of independence in 1948 is an agreement on the religious Jewish role in government and the judicial system of Israel. The agreement was based upon a letter that was sent by Ben-Gurion to Agudat Israel dated 19 June 1947.[18] Under this agreement, which still operates in most respects today:

The Chief Rabbinate has authority over kashrut, shabbat, Jewish burial and personal status issues, such as marriage, divorce, and conversions.

Streets in Haredi neighborhoods are closed to traffic on the Sabbath.

There is no public transport on that day, and most businesses are closed. However, there is public transport in Haifa, since Haifa had a large Arab population at the time of the British Mandate.

Restaurants who wish to advertise themselves as kosher must be certified by the Chief Rabbinate.

Importation of non-kosher foods is prohibited. Despite prohibition, there are a few local pork farms in kibbutzim, catering for establishments selling white meat, due to its relatively popular demand among specific population sectors, particularly the Russian immigrants of the 1990s. Despite the status quo, the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that local governments are not allowed to ban the sale of pork, although this had previously been a common by-law.
Until recently, if one is not recognized as 100% Jew by Rabbinate of Israel, it would be really difficult to be buried. Marriages (as well as funerals) are still religious, so if one is not an Arab (Muslim or Christian) and is not recognized as 100% Jew by Rabbinate then one will not be able to get married in Israel.
One would imagine that such restrictions would make some people unhappy. At one time it was so big that anti-religious party “Shinui” was elected to parliament and become third biggest party in Parliament.

Regarding, introduction to the problem of ultra-ortodox and state of israel, I recommend the article of Akiva Orr (an Israeli and physicist) http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/09/21/18622627.php"
 
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  • #25
vici10
The protests in Israel are continuing. This time protests took place not in Tel-Aviv, but on periphery. In such provincial towns as Beer-Sheva, 20,000 demonstrated (population of Beer-Sheva 200,000). 15,000 demonstrated in Afula (population 40,500). Thousands of people took on the streets in another small towns of Israel.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in other cities throughout Israel, with 8,000 demonstrating in*Modi'in, 7,000 in Netanya, 5,000 in*Petah Tikva, 3,500 in Hod Hasharon, 2,500 in Ramat Hasharon, 2,000 in Rosh Pina, 1,500 in*Rishon Letzion, 1,500 in Eilat, 1,500 in*Dimona and 1,500 in Nahariya.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/nationa...social-protests-move-out-of-tel-aviv-1.378465
 

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