By Press TV
By Mike Jennings
The Tel Aviv regime has been witnessing tens-of-thousands-plus demonstrations for over six weeks now, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nightmare of Israel “deteriorate[ing] into the situation of certain European countries,” is inching closer to becoming reality.
In Tel Aviv alone, over 10,000 protesters marched from Habima Square to the intersection of Ibn Gvirol and Shaul Hamelech streets.
Al-Quds (Jerusalem) saw 2,000 protesters gathering outside Netanyahu’s residence, waving banners reading “Protest creates reality, we are building a just society.”
Four thousand and five hundred people took to the streets in Rishon Letzion, around 4,500 people demonstrated, according to official figures.
Contrary to common belief that mid-July marked the beginning of the anti-government protests, the movement had begun weeks earlier.
In June, the Israelis started noticing continuous hikes in the price of Cottage Cheese, which is a popular commodity in Israel and is widely perceived as an elementary food item. Therefore, in an attempt to lower the prices a Facebook group called for the boycott of Cottage Cheese, set to go into effect on July first.
Over 100,000 people joined the group, which later called for the boycott of all dairy products by mid-July.
In the meantime, the high cost of living in Israel prompted one protester to set up a tent in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square on July 14 and launch a Facebook page calling on Israelis to join the protest.
One day later, over 50 tents were pitched on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard to protest high apartment prices.
Since then the Israelis have been holding regular weekly protests which Prime Minister Netanyahu has described as “irresponsible, hasty and populist steps.”
The anti-government demonstrations are the largest Israel has seen in just over the sixty years that passed since its fabrication.
Home prices have increased by 64 percent since 2008 and according to estimates an Israeli employee needs to pay 143 months’ – which is almost 12 years – worth of his salary to purchase a house.
Netanyahu has been promoting tax cuts for the rich and privatization. But an increase in private profit does not cure the plague the middle class is struggling with.
The demonstrators are clearly against the Israeli regime given that they hold banners reading, “Corner of Rothschild and Tahrir,” and shouting slogans like “The people want social justice!…The people want to topple the regime!”
However, the demonstrators are ignoring a major factor in the sociopolitical situation in the region — the plight of Palestinians.
In the words of Jonathan Rich of Red and Back,
Palestinians and Israeli Arabs have been marginalized and ignored by the demonstrators, even though their living conditions are far worse than Israeli Jews. Palestinians face evictions, housing demolition, forced displacement and targeted discrimination by the Israeli government. And yet their concerns are largely ignored by the demonstrations.
The Israeli housing protest is a cynical struggle where the somewhat privileged demand even more privilege on the backs of the not-at-all privileged.
This would be like the 19th century abolitionist movement fighting to alleviate poverty for southern whites while ignoring the issue of slavery entirely.
Palestinians have been seeing their land taken from them by force for over half a century. Every time Tel Aviv approves a settlement unit a Palestinian family loses its home. The Israeli regime evicts Palestinian women and children, rendering them homeless to build settlement units for Jewish Israelis.
The Palestinian population is also being discriminated against on a whole host of other issues. For instance, Israel is building a separation wall in the West Bank that cuts villagers off from vast stretches of their land occupied by the Israelis, where settlements are being constructed illegally.
There is nothing much Palestinians can do but to hold weekly protests against the construction of the wall in the areas that are going to be affected most. However, when they do hold weekly protests – usually on Fridays following the Friday Prayers – the Israeli army steps in and opens fire on protesters shooting them with rubber bullets and live rounds and uses force, water cannons and tear gas.
The oppressed Palestinian population has already been engaged in a decades-long struggle with the Israeli regime.
The Israeli army vs. Palestinian civilians is not a new conflict but with the added pressure of Israeli protests over social inequality, the regime suddenly feels the heat.
The Israeli regime has already started using tactics that it previously only used against the Palestinian population.
Last week, Israeli police raided an abandoned building in which anti-government protesters were seeking refuge, evicting all the activists there while arresting some.
Israeli forces are present during the anti-government rallies and it seems like it is only a matter of time before they intervene and crack down on protesters.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians are opting to gain recognition at the United Nations’ General Assembly in September.
In a counter measure, Israel’s Foreign Ministry launched a global campaign in early June, to thwart the Palestinian move to seek statehood recognition.
Israeli diplomats have been instructed to lobby highest possible officials in their respective countries and muster support for a vote against the recognition of a Palestinian state.
More than 100 countries have so far officially recognized Palestine as a state based on the 1967 borders, the boundaries that existed before Israel captured and annexed East al-Quds (Jerusalem), the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Whether Palestinians gain recognition and the Israeli regime refuses to acknowledge that or Tel Aviv’s lobbying efforts pays off and the Palestinians fail to gain recognition as a state at the United Nations, Palestinians are most likely to step up their demonstrations.
Either way, chances are Palestinians will respond by marching towards Israeli army checkpoints to demand freedom. Then, if anti-government Israeli protesters still have their demand for freedom and social justice they will have no choice but to side with the Palestinians and form a united front against the Israeli regime.
It would be expected that Western countries would rush to help Tel Aviv but with the slow economic recovery and the imminent danger of another global recession, Israel is already a burden on the shoulders of the United States and its allies.
Israel receives $3 billion from the US in direct foreign assistance each year — which is roughly one-fifth of America’s foreign aid budget — and a needy ally, which requires all sorts of political, financial and military support to carry on.
Washington has stood behind Tel Aviv in almost any international conflict Israel has been engaged in but will the US support the Israeli regime against Israeli people as well?