ISSN 2330-717X

Social Justice Movement Support In Israel, Wide And Deep – OpEd


Haaretz just released a poll showing that despite an escalation of violence on the part of the police and Tel Aviv municipality, Israelis expressed strong support for the social justice movement.  67% wish the movement would renew its activities and a similar amount believe last year’s J14 encampment hasn’t yet succeeded in realizing its goal.  Though the Netanyahu government and Mayor Ron Huldai hoped it would die, it hasn’t.  In fact, all sectors of the Israeli population including the Orthodox offer a majority supporting its goals.  Among the secular population numbers were 79%.

More Israelis believe the police were at fault for the past few days of brutal violence waged against protesters by the police, than believe the demonstrators were at fault.  Most of those polled also did not blame the social justice movement for the attacks on local bank offices in which windows were smashed.

On a related note, the police and government have argued that the J14 tent encampment required a permit, which is why the police broke it up.  The Association for Civil Rights in Israel denied this claim saying that anyone is allowed to pitch a tent on any public property in Israel.  Further police depredations have included the arrest of attorneys who went to the police station to offer legal assistance to the 90 protesters who were arrested.  On their first judicial hearing, the police demanded that all those arrested be held for the duration of their legal proceedings.  Considering that some of those arrested at last summer’s demonstrations haven’t yet been tried, this would mean a full year in prison for detainees who haven’t even been tried for a crime.  The judge summarily rejected the police argument and released all of them.

The municipality held a city council meeting to discuss the protests and activists disrupted Mayor Ron Huldai and refused to allow him to speak, so that he was forced to cancel the meeting.  Huldai has taken a hardline stance against the protests and supporting the tough police response.

Haaretz reports that ACRI’s president, noted author Sami Michael, in a speech to the Association for Israel Studies said Israel was “the most racist nation in the developed world:”

Israeli culture is no less toxic than fanatic Islam, and the country’s discriminatory attitude toward Mizrahi Jews and Arabs qualifies it for the title of “most racist state,” prominent Israeli author Sami Michael said on Monday.

…”More than 60 years after the establishment of the Israeli state, the rift between European and Mizrahi Jewry has not mended. It is reflected in racism and social gaps,” the author said.

“To this day people from Arab states are underrepresented in the state’s central institutions, especially academic and cultural ones,” he said.

The racism is encouraged by cabinet members and MKs, and fueled by increasing religious extremism in the country, he said.

…”Israel is in danger unless its leadership understands it isn’t located in Europe’s tranquil north but in the Middle East’s seething center,” said Michael. “We may lose everything. Israel could be a transient construct, like the First and Second Temples.”

Michael said Israeli children are trained to hate the other.

“Israeli culture is no less poisoned than the fanatic Islamic factions,” he said.

“From kindergarten to old age we feed our children hatred, suspicion and disgust toward the stranger and the other, and especially toward the Arabs,” he said.

He called the occupation “disaster incarnate” for Israel.


This article appeared at Tikun Olam

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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