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News The big protests in Israel

  1. Aug 7, 2011 #1
    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"

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2011 #2
    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.
  4. Aug 7, 2011 #3
    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?
  5. Aug 7, 2011 #4
    I'm not that familiar - is this adding significantly to the downturn in their equities market?
  6. Aug 7, 2011 #5


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  7. Aug 7, 2011 #6
    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. Aug 7, 2011 #7
  9. Aug 8, 2011 #8
    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?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  10. Aug 8, 2011 #9
    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:
    http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/38/50/47573464.pdf" [Broken]
    I do not know. Historically, changes happened in history, social systems changed before. We shall see.
    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]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  11. Aug 8, 2011 #10
    @ 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.
  12. Aug 8, 2011 #11


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    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?
  13. Aug 8, 2011 #12
    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:
    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.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  14. Aug 8, 2011 #13
    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.
  15. Aug 8, 2011 #14
    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.
  16. Aug 8, 2011 #15
    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.
  17. Aug 8, 2011 #16
    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.
  18. Aug 9, 2011 #17
    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.


    and above you mentioned this:
    but are the ultra orthodox really getting squeezed yet? it doesn't look like they are the ones out protesting now. in fact:

    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.
  19. Aug 9, 2011 #18
    This is correct.

    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.
    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.

    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]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  20. Aug 11, 2011 #19
    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.
  21. Aug 11, 2011 #20


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    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?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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