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Generation א

The Tel Aviv tent protesters say they speak for a nation demanding social justice. In truth, they’re entitled yuppies who’ve finally found something worth fighting for: themselves.

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A protester asleep amid the protest tents in Tel Aviv earlier this month. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
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On an exceptionally humid Saturday evening last month, a modest assembly gathered in front of the Souraski Medical Center in Tel Aviv to protest on behalf of Israeli doctors, who are widely acknowledged to be underpaid and overworked. But the doctors’ continued pleas for public support had nevertheless fallen on deaf ears: The masses had chosen to stay at home—at least for a few more hours. That same night, shortly after the underpaid doctors and their handful of supporters had packed up and left, tens of thousands of Israelis stormed into the public square at the entrance to the Tel Aviv Museum, only a few hundred yards away from the site of the earlier protest, to demonstrate against the rising costs of housing. Although the doctors’ struggle for better wages elicits overwhelming public support, it apparently asked young Israeli protesters to do the one thing they are still unprepared for: acknowledge the interests of someone other than themselves.

Judging by the tidal wave of bombastic accolades that has swept through the Israeli and international media in the past few weeks, it is quite understandable why the unambiguously self-centered origins of Israel’s tent-city protests have been so obstinately ignored. With Haaretz already anointing the mass demonstrations “The Israeli Revolution” and novelist Amos Oz declaring the movement to have “surpassed its ancestors,” why would anyone actually examine—let alone question—the inglorious origins of the most glorious event in recent Israeli memory? Even the sober-minded communitarian philosopher Michael Walzer was apparently overtaken by what he witnessed in Tel Aviv. “This is the first uprising, anywhere in the world, against a successful neo-liberal regime,” Walzer recently wrote, explaining that “the crisis has to do with inequality and injustice, and the search for communal justice.”

But beyond the balloon of egalitarian rhetoric that has been strategically inflated by media-savvy protesters to mobilize public support, it becomes painfully clear that the altruistic spectacle of the current public myth originated as an explicitly egotistic venture. The young urbanite Israelis who have been engaging in “tent warfare” for the past month did not do so to protest the “neoliberal regime,” as Walzer and others would so dearly love to believe; they did so rather because they were unable to enjoy their accustomed neoliberal pleasures to the fullest. And as tempting as it may be to mask self-interest behind abstract moral pretensions, the only social justice the protesters have ever been truly eager to obtain has been that which is reserved for themselves.

***

Let us first examine what by all accounts has become the dominant message propelling the recent demonstrations: “The Nation Demands Social Justice.” What exactly constitutes this so-called “nation,” and who has the right to speak for it? It appears that the self-declared Israeli bourgeoisie, as represented by the well-educated 20- and 30-year-old urbanites spearheading the movement, have quite naturally taken the latter role upon themselves. By deflecting attention away from Tel Aviv they have succeeded in transforming the protest from a limited sectarian affair into a national outcry for change. And yet despite their seemingly noble efforts at advocating national unity in pursuit of “social justice,” one should not overlook the fact that in the past few years, the one thing this same Israeli bourgeoisie continually, and consciously, failed to do, was to unite on behalf of those less fortunate than themselves.

Well before the so-called ills of neoliberalism and privatization against which tens of thousands of Israelis are so passionately united had driven the price of housing in metropolitan areas to record heights, countless groups were already engaging in a desperate struggle for survival. First there was the months-long stand-off between disabled Israelis whose meager benefits had become so debased that they had no choice but to camp out in front of the Ministry of Finance for over 10 weeks in order to pressure the government to rescind some of the cuts. There was the electrifying protest movement generated by Vicki Knafo, the then 43-year-old single mother, whose perennial inability to support her children launched her on a 120-mile trek from her home town of Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev to Jerusalem to protest decreasing government benefits. Knafo’s struggle was also aimed at halting the continued socioeconomic deterioration of Israel’s non-urban periphery, which has long suffered from government neglect. In 2007, it was the Holocaust survivors’ turn to mobilize, as hundreds of aging survivors and their families joined forces to protest the abject poverty into which they were forced by diminishing government pensions. Finally, and most recently, was the struggle among residents of S’derot and neighboring southern towns surrounding the Gaza strip to lobby the government to safeguard their schools and build adequate shelters that would allow them to attempt to maintain some kind of normalcy in the face of incessant rocket fire.

Each one of these social movements was widely supported by the general public. And yet none ever succeeded—despite repeated attempts—at mobilizing the mass support they required to effect meaningful social change. The geographic, socioeconomic, and ethnic divides that have split Israeli society and prevent mass mobilization became clear during the 2006 Second Lebanon War and the 2008 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, when tens of thousands of Israelis living along the northern and southern frontiers were huddled into bomb shelters while the restaurants and bars in Rothschild Boulevard—the Bastille to this contemporary Israeli Revolution—were as busy as ever.

Such historical reflection is not a petty attempt to belittle the social agenda of the ongoing protest movement in Israel; but it is merely an attempt to examine the actual motives of the protesters in the streets. Waving the banner of “communal justice” after consciously alienating yourself from large parts of the national community for so long is not only opportunistic but also hypocritical. One does not need to be a great skeptic to question the sincerity of those who have suddenly taken upon themselves the liberty to speak on behalf of a nation in which they have wanted little part. Large sectors of Israeli society and its periphery have been crying out for over a decade to the self-declared Israeli bourgeoisie to ask for support in pressuring the government to alleviate their pain. It is only now, as that pain has begun to trickle into that bourgeoisie’s own pockets, in the relatively mild form of decreasing purchasing power and rising rents (as opposed to living in abject poverty and huddling in bomb shelters), that the privileged urban Israelis responsible for this latest civic awakening are finally willing to listen.

***

While rising housing costs may have initially driven a group of young Israelis last month to pitch a tent in Rothschild Boulevard and spark the flame of revolution, it is their own desperate search for self-fulfillment that has kept them there. When a mock Guillotine was placed in the heart of the Rothschild encampment last Wednesday, it served not merely as a provocative spectacle but also as a boost to the self-confidence of these highly self-conscious performers, who play to the cameras at every opportunity. In the end, the all too conspicuous images of solidarity, showcasing secular and ultra-Orthodox or Arab and Jew embracing, not to mention the constant analogies to Paris 1789, are a testimony to the fact that as much as the protesters may be trying to prove their inflated sense of self-accomplishment to the greater public, they are primarily trying to make themselves believe in their own historical import.

“We have finally awakened” has become a favorite maxim among the younger protesters. “This is not about housing” declared a young Israeli journalist. “It is a welcomed attempt at patricide.” Similarly, calls for “regeneration” and “rebirth” have suffused the mock-revolutionary jargon, with some going as far as to declare these protests as “the renaissance of the Israeli spirit” and “Israel’s second Independence Day.” Itzhik Shmuli, the head of the national student union, has been even more explicit about his generation’s newfound and self-congratulatory sense of empowerment: “From now on, the young people will shape the government’s vision.”

While analysts have described the demonstrations as “an effort by the youngest Israelis to recapture an older, more egalitarian, more idealistic, country that their parents lost,” their own rhetoric suggests that they are actually attempting to do the exact opposite, and to create something completely different. Even without an intensive psychoanalytic evaluation, it should not be too difficult to diagnose the all too obvious generational neurosis that plagues the young Israelis who began this fight: guilt. Although their neighbors in Tahrir Square have indubitably had a profound effect on these self-styled revolutions, it is not the Arab spring as much as their own guilty conscience that has shamed them into action. When the Histadrut Labor Federation chairman, Ofer Eini, recently lamented that Israel had “lost the compassion of the socialist state,” which has been transformed into what he called “not simply capitalist, but capitalist swine,” it undoubtedly struck a nerve with many young Israelis who could not but help feel responsible for this perceived moral degradation. As one tent-dwelling Tel Aviv student-protester recently explained: “Something in Israeli society is lacking; something is wrong with our collective priorities.”

Much like Douglas Coupland’s Generation X—the materially driven American generation that matured in waning stages of the Cold War and in the shadow of the Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation—the current cohort of 20- and 30-year-old Israelis appears to be suffering from a similar sense of historical banality. Unlike their grandparents, whose selfless devotion to a greater good helped found the Jewish State, and their parents, who were responsible for defending it in large-scale wars, young Israelis today feel more like the prodigal son, who has selfishly squandered his inheritance. Born after the 1973 War, young Israelis have been liberated from the existential phobias of their parents and accordingly are primarily focused on themselves. In Tel Aviv, an astronomical 34.8 percent of Israeli youth do not serve in the IDF. For the majority who still join, a military service that included two morally ambiguous wars, in Lebanon and the West Bank (each of which lacked a national consensus backing it), did more to burden their conscience than to replenish their pride. If in the past Israelis could always derive a sense of self-fulfillment by serving the state, the younger generation was left to serve itself.

When the tents are finally packed up and stored away, Israel’s summer of discontent may yet end up accomplishing real things—trust-busting, rent control, and a reawakened civil society among them. But it may also do lot of collateral damage by instilling in Israelis a false sense of unity around a misleading agenda cobbled together to buttress the protesters’ own overwhelming sense of self-importance. The puerile and incoherent demands being voiced in the streets (cut taxes but expand the welfare state; remove tariffs and raise the minimum wage but sustain full employment; eliminate university tuition but improve faculty benefits), are emblematic not only of the conflicting sectarian interests comprising this bloated social movement but also of a wishful thinking that stubbornly refuses to recognize its own contradictions and will therefore never make good on its promises.

Deep cleavages continue to polarize Israeli society. The fact that most Israelis agree on lower rents and higher wages (who wouldn’t?) should not belie their continued disagreements about what really matters. In an inversion of Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation that Americans argue as much as they like about all secondary questions because they have already come to a basic agreement about primary ones, Israelis seem to be wasting their limited civic capital by arguing over secondary matters while the burning fundamental issues remain unresolved.

With the promised U.N. General Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood just over the horizon, which threatens a resurgence of violent resistance—a third Intifada—Israelis may very well have spent the summer mobilizing for the wrong cause. Lower housing prices, cheaper cottage cheese, and affordable diapers are all good things. But considering the existential challenges facing the Jewish state, they are the wrong ones, at least for now. Without a sustained—and painful—national dialogue that would once and for all engage the deeply rooted divisions in Israeli society, and without attempts to resolve the future of the settlements, the possibility for Palestinian coexistence, and the status of Israel’s own growing Arab population, the young bourgeois Israeli revolutionaries so adamant upon ushering in the rebirth of a reunified Jewish state will inevitably wind up like most misguided idealistic revolutionaries before them: in bitter disappointment.

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Barry says:

These are the issues that they should be concerned with?

“the future of the settlements”? Jews can live where they like. If the satanic Mohammedans don’t like it . . . NUTS!

“the possibility for Palestinian coexistence”? As long as Shari’ah exists, no coexistence with Mohammedanism. Not in Israel. Not in the United States. Not in Europe. Shari’ah adherence = Nazism

“the status of Israel’s own growing Arab population”? Loyalty or the Caliphate. Can’t have both. As Ahmed Tibi and Zoubi make clear every day, the Mohammedans want the Caliphate. They should be stripped of citizenship and sent to the dar al-Islam where they can worship Mohammed in peace.

With that cleared up, let’s support the protestors focus on real issues: a demand for better living conditions for Israelis, and end to the cartels, and the dismantling of the socialist welfare state.

What is this penchant of Tablet to publish the opinions of yordim living in NY about what we as Israelis have to go through to get by day to day? I honestly don’t get it. This piece just reeks of self-righteousness and judgementalism. If Yoav actually lived here and had a raise a family on 2 average middle class salaries, then I might respect what he had to say. If he actually lived here he would know that though the doctors’ strike has been lingering, they have never made a concerted effort to include the public at large in their protests. It has remained a purely professional affair. It’s gotten a lot of air time, I’ve never heard or seen any calls to bring out the public in mass demonstrations about their meager salaries. I would have gone in a flash (though I haven’t participated in any of the other recent protests) because I depend heavily on my doctors for the health of my children and I think they deserve more money.

Since Yoav doesn’t live here, his piece sounds unbelievably harebrained and ridiculous. There is a serious lack of affordable housing for students and young families and it’s been a known fact for years thanks to decades of government bungling. Contrary to how Fromer would like to frame this, this is not a protest for better sushi prices. But I guess these facts don’t fit into his grand thesis about how selfish and evil the Israeli middle class are.

fred lapides says:

I don’t get it. Do “yuppies” serve in the army to defend Israel? Do they get dismissed by some author because he resents so-called yuppies?
Question: after meeting so many Israelis–many of them non-yuppies–living in the United States, I finally asked a married couple why they left Israel. Was it, I asked, because of the constant threat of Arabs? No. They were unable to make a decent living in Israel, they said.
Why are there now more than one million Israelis who have left their country? Why?

I would expect to see this type of article on a far-right site like Arutz 7, but certainly not on an ostensibly liberal site like Tablet. Fromer’s piece is far to the right of the mainstream discourse in Israel regarding the J14 movement.

kapriza says:

To Abbi- Do you need an engraved invitation to go out and stand with the doctors? You only prove Yoav to be right when you say you would have because you “depend heavily on your doctors.” Once again, it’s all about you.

Maayan says:

I still don’t get it. Why the hell is Yoav Frommer compaining?

A movement that starts because of personal hardship has grown and developed into something that is bringing about a real change of conciousness. The fact that the middle class has been in a coma regarding the slowly disintegrating welfare state and society should make us all the more happy that they (we) are now waking up. The trully poor haven’t been strong enough to make effective political change. This protest movement comes from the middle class but extends to everyone – and the weakest will also benefit. Is having been asleep a good reason to remain comatose? Yoav seems to think it is. Luckily, being consistent is not as important as being right. Whoever spends time in the protest tent cities learns that this is not peurile and inconsistent. It is the most compelling example of real public discourse and democracy I have ever seen.

Yoav Fromer misses the point. Completely.
Bitter disappointment is exactly what we feel about our government right now. We don’t like what the government is doing.
We are asking the government to invest in initiatives that will make things better for the average Israeli. We don’t want our government to give priority to funding new housing in the West Bank, to be deporting foreign workers’ children who were born in Israel or to provide unequal benefits to the ultra-orthodox.
Young Israelis, unlike their parents, haven’t given up.
We see a brighter future: a post-Yishai, post-Lieberman, post-Netanyahu era.
And the beginning of that future is the vision.

The de rigeur historical references – De Tocqueville, Paris 1789 – the “in” mention of Douglas Coupland add no weight to Fromer’s little outburst. His belittling of someone else’s philosophy as “jargon” only serves to highlight the impoverished state of his own intellectual capacity. His outburst swells to feverish levels of unfairness and ignorance;it seems he’s never heard of the protesters in Beersheba, Herzliya, and Jerusalem. As I read the comments I discovered that the author of this so-called epitaph of the Social Justice movement lives outside of the State of Israel. It must be said that insight and historical perception can gain from distance, in the case of Fromer it has resulted in non-operable astigmatism. And would TABLET be good enough, as is done in other on-line journals, supply the reader with some background information about the author?

Tammy Kay says:

This article is bull. Excuse the language. If the movement was a of small fringe of “yuppies”, why would 300,000 people go out and protest in the largest demonstration Israel has ever seen?
Yes, it started over Tel Aviv rent prices, but these young people were joined by the student union, dairy farmers, psychology interns, a parade of young mothers with strollers, striking public hospital doctors, a few West Bank settlers, a university professor who holds reception hours in his tent, and tent villages in Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, Haifa, Kfar Sava, and in some in Arab and Druze villages.
A phone call came in from a serious gangster doing time, asserting that all the prisoners and their families stand behind the protest one hundred percent. How’s that for a broad common denominator.

WHY WAS MY COMMENT REMOVED?

Pnina Moed Kass

alessandra says:

350.000 people in the streets of all country all selfish yuppies?

howard young says:

You should have informed us that Yoav is an Israeli who lives outside of Israel.This would go along way to explaing his views that stem from his guilt feelings of not being there…

Let’s apply Fromer’s arrogant thesis to another historical public revolution, the Viet Nam War. The anti-war movement in the US not only turned national sentiment against the war, it also brought about a social revolution that changed American standards and values on numerous things from sex to fashion.

At the root of the anti-war movement, were hundreds of thousands of young men who did not want to be drafted to fight and die for a bunch of rice pickers who didn’t give a damn what government they had. The fact that a majority of Americans today, would like to see the US out of Iraq and Afghanistan but have not taken to the streets in mass protest can be explained quite simply, there is no draft.

Does motivation really give a popular movement its legitimacy? The social injustices of America in the 1960’s were even more pronounced and profound that what middle class Israelis are confronting today. But what drove young American’s into the streets? Fear of the draft. So should we write of the anti-Viet Nam War movement as a failure because it did not because civil rights or aid for the poor were not high on its agenda? History quite loudly tells us it changed the U.S. and possibly the world, forever.

Let’s apply Fromer’s arrogant thesis to another historical public revolution, the Viet Nam War. The anti-war movement in the US not only turned national sentiment against the war, it also brought about a social revolution that changed American standards and values on numerous things from sex to fashion.

At the root of the anti-war movement, were hundreds of thousands of young men who did not want to be drafted to fight and die for a bunch of rice pickers who didn’t give a damn what government they had. The fact that a majority of Americans today, would like to see the US out of Iraq and Afghanistan but have not taken to the streets in mass protest can be explained quite simply, there is no draft.

Does motivation really give a popular movement its legitimacy? The social injustices of America in the 1960’s were even more pronounced and profound that what middle class Israelis are confronting today. But what drove young American’s into the streets? Fear of the draft. So should we write of the anti-Viet Nam War movement as a failure because civil rights or aid for the poor were not high on its agenda? History quite loudly tells us it changed the U.S. and possibly the world, forever.

ros roucher says:

The author obviously does not live here.

Norn Cone says:

Yoav Frommer is 100% right. I have served 25 years in the Army Reserve,
have bought my first one and a half room Shikun-apartment from a 80
Israeli Pound/month salary and worked my whole live hard without
whining and complaining. True, housing in Israel is expensive and some
people find Israel a country for millionaires only. But mass protests
in the streets won’t make housing cheaper. And those who refuse to serve in the Army to secure the state’s existence have lost their
right to demand free education and privileges they never earned.

Marty Janner says:

The article in question, is endemic to what is going on in the State of Israel, at the present time!Any individual has the right to protest, from their personal experiences! Grant you, doctors are underpaid, and some resolution should be applied. They have every right to earn a living wage, commensurate with their years of study.

Lack of numbers, is a result of lack of organization, on the part of those refuting to be supporters for this issue!

However this business of Generation X, reflects that a lot of people are being hurt, by what is going on among the middle class! Israel is not alone. We Americans are facing the same dilema,our people who were once in this socio category are now stagnated, and hurting as well!

I give credit to those that standup for their right of freedom in their Democracy !!!

It’s hilarious that Lisa Goldman would post her incoherence in the comments. A person whose entire social circle consists of far-left radicals has no business talking about what is or is not “mainstream.”

@RZS

Re Lisa Goldman: You are so right! And don’t forget her Palestinian friends in Jaffa and Ramallah. Such a poseur.

Why are comment is awaiting moderation ?
Aug 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM

IF Yoav Fromer, a New York-based journalist and a former columnist for the Israeli daily Maariv still lives in NY, does read ANY NY papers ? Example : NY Times ” Israeli’s TYCOONS ( 3 ) Israeli’s Protest, Confront
the Wealth Gap:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/12/world/middleeast/12israel.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=Israel%20wealth%20gap&st=cse.

For Tablet readers in Israel or anywhere, can you dispute these findings ?
Fromer quotes Amos OZ, http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1236837.html

Quote from OZ “After all, the first thing these protesters say, before “social justice” and Down with the government, “he” people are brothers. ” resources needed to establish social justice in Israel is located in three places: First, Israel has invested billions in settlements, which are the biggest mistake the counits people, and the reality of the twenty-first century. Is there a chance of emerging social solidarity? ”

TYCOONS, Oligarchs, IN ISRAEL, SHAME. As the NY Times article points out, with this type of Economic
pyramid scheme, controlled by three TYCOONS , stability is lacking and as pyramid schemes do, will collapse.
Israel, GET WITH IT !
Sy Fort Lee NJ

Marc Tracy says:

@Sy Weiss (and everyone else), the automated comment system tends to flag comments with more than one link.

jacob arnon says:

YOAV FROMER deflation of the so called Israeli middle class revolution reminds me of the deflation of the so called Arab Spring in a number of articles. In both cases the demonstrations take themselves very seriously while not realizing that larger socio-political forces are at work. (I have a feeling that demonstrators in Egypt got the message by now.)

Yoav is right to call attention to the larger problems facing Israeli society. The author of the article makes us conscious of all the problems the society faces and hopes that a genuine revolution will take place in the consciousness of the protesters one which will allow them to make common cause with say the denizens of Sderot and other poorer areas in Israel.

I recently read an article by the writer David Grossman who asked the demonstrators to embrace also the Jews who were evicted from Northern Gaza. This, it seems to me, is the way to go. It is the only way to solve the issue of the settlements on the West Bank I mean the ones that will eventually be given up and not the neighborhoods surrounding Jerusalem.

“First They ignore you, Then they laugh at you, Then they fight you, Then you win.”

Yoav Frommer is partly right. This is a revolt of the Ashkenazi elites and nothing else. They have been losing their grip on the country since 1977 and now is more or less their last opportunity to do something about it. Of course they will lose.

There were not 300,000 people in the street. Not even half that. We all know in Israel that the figures from the media were a joke, because the media themselves are part of this revolt.

The protest outside of the Tel Aviv area almost deos not exist – but for a few professional activists. There is nothing.

And the result of this will be a more (economically) liberal Israel. This left-wing revolt is in fact empowering the government to pass the reforms he wanted and could not.
The only victim will be the left and Kadima in particular that will lose many voters going back to Meretz or something like that. No threat to the Likud and the right.

“Why are there now more than one million Israelis who have left their country? Why?”

Well, there aren’t. Look on Google for a very good study by the Jewish People Planning Insitute. The number of Israelis abroad is in fact much smaller than usually thought.

Here the article about the Israelis abroad:
http://jppi.org.il/uploads/What_Million_Missing_Israelis.pdf

Berel Dov Lerner says:

Lisa Goldman gets my vote for having posted the most deliciously ironic comment I have ever seen on a website. She wrote:
“I would expect to see this type of article on a far-right site like Arutz 7, but certainly not on an ostensibly liberal site like Tablet. Fromer’s piece is far to the right of the mainstream discourse in Israel regarding the J14 movement.”
Oh my God! A “liberal” publication actually being sufficiently pluralistic and open-minded that they publish an article expressing views that Goldman associates with the Israeli right! What an affront to democracy!
What makes it even funnier is that Frumer criticizes the protesters for not being sufficiently concerned with the interests of the lower classes – that actually sounds like a rather left-wing critique of the movement. Somehow this is lost on Goldman.

Rabbi Tony Jutner says:

Initially driven by the Somali like poverty of the zionist colony, the protesters now are espousing my principles of NewJudaism, with its trinity of Economic Justice, Social Justice, and RIght of Return of Endogenous Inhabitants, especially the Palestinians. I stand ready as the next Moses, ready to lead the israelis back into the diaspora. All I need is funding. israelis are tired of being zionist lackeys, and at this point would rather live in East St Louis than Tel Aviv. I get to live in my own personal Jerusalem, San Francisco

jacob arnon says:

Why is antisemitic “Rabbi” Tony Jutner allowed to post here?

@ Berel

You nailed it. The great point in what she wrote is that she opposes publishing pieces that are not “mainstream”. When “mainstream” means – “what I think”.
Well, remind me, how do we call people who want to shut dissident opinions ? Ah, yes – fascists.
By the way – the anti-mekhaa sentiment is far more mainstream in the general public than what you can think watching the Israeli stalinist media. I would even say that it is the majority today.

Weird numbers coming out of Israel 300,000 – 400,000 cost-of-living demonstrators. Impossible. A demonstrator takes up 1.5 sq. meters, that’s 450 square kilometers which is 2 percent of Israel’s total area.

The cause may or may not be righteous but the numbers are self-delusion.

http://www.jewishjournal.com/demographic_duo/item/israeli_protests_cover_the_land_20110815/

Rotaman says:

This tent warfare seems to be analogous to the gandhian threat-fare in India. Almost everything that the author says here applies to Indian state as well.

The amount of hatred expressed toward one another here is truly disturbing–it’s no wonder the Sages said we lost Jerusalem because of it.

l wineman says:

having just returned from a 3 month stay in israel i can tell you this article is total nonsense but rather than going point by point I’ll just note one distortion.

The author cites an “astronomical” 34.8% figure from tel aviv for non enlistment as “proof that the population from which the protesters is drawn are self absorbed yuppies.
But the same article notes that the non enlistment rate in jerusalem is 52%!!!! and the rate for women is 43.7% 32.7% for religious reasons. Factor in the fact that people from bnei brak fall into the Tel Aviv statistics and its pretty clear that if one is looking for demonstrators that only care about their narrow self interest one should look to the charedi demonstrations in bnei brak and jerusalem not those of the current protest for social justice.
why print such distorted analysis from someone living in the states when so much insightful material both supportive and critical appears in the israeli media ?

Err.. Jerusalem as a whole has a much higher percentage of Haredim and Arabs (together a majority), so the fact the difference is only 17% is not in Tel-Aviv’s favor, but actually indicates a much higher non-enlistment percentage in Tel-Aviv if we were to compare secular populations alone… And if one reads further in that article, we can see twice as many non-enlisters in Tel-Aviv vs the North and 12% more non-enlisters in Tel-Aviv vs the South.

l wineman says:

nope bnei berak is included in the tel aviv statistics check the article the numbers are for the tel aviv REGION not the city of tel aviv

and since arabs are not subject to the draft they are not included in the statistics for those requesting exemption from the draft from jerusalem cited in the article (check the link the numbers come from leshkat geeyoos, arab citizens are not subject to geyoos).

also you dont address the issue of women not enlisting all religious

So if one is looking for self absorbed people who care only about their narrow interests (with their lack of commitment to military service a clear indivator) and show up in large numbers for demonstrations…seems pretty clear the author is looking in the wrong direction,

try again…. the idea that the demonstrators are self absorbed yuppies looking out for themselves is way off base…as shown by the poll numbers which show 85%+ support among the population

take a walk down Rorhschild and randomly ask folk what unit they served in…then do the same think next time there is a demonstration in bnei berak or jerusalem…pls report back the results. Make sure to include the females

l wineman says:

let me get this straight a “new york based” israeli journalist is writing to explain how the young people who turned their lives upside down to help change their society are self absorbed gex xers who care only about themselves.
Among the leaders of the proests who took unpaid leave of her Tel Aviv job as a working journalist to work full time (which is basically 24/7) or a leader of the group fighting for housing improved primary education and childcare (she is single) better housing in the periphery (she lives in the tel aviv article)

but Mr. Fromer knows the narrow self absorption of genx she represents either writing from NY or soon to return to his home there.

the irony is too rich

why not solicit a rebuttal article from shtav or one of her colleagues ?

l wineman says:

forget to add her name shtav shafir (you can google it)

l wineman says:

err Y

the numbers are higher in jerusalem (region) next highest in tel aviv (region which includes bnei berak) and it is noticeably lower in the south and north (very low haredi proportion of the population)

now you tell me what is an indicator of not serving (and by your implication lack of concern for other israelis)
secular and educated
or
charedi

?

l wineman says:

be sure to visit the table for these self absorbed gexers next time you take a walk down rotschild
http://merage.org/News-and-Events/Merage-in-the-News/As-Housing-Protests-Sweep-the-Nation,-Ayalim-Moves.aspx

babawawa says:

Wasn’t one of the “settler” tents set on fire? I don’t believe that this protest is for everyone, certainly not for the truly poor and the people of Gush Katif, who were promised housing and are still without it. That’s the beauty of lefties – what yours is theirs and what’s theirs is theirs. The woman who sparked the protests is from a very wealthy family, and certainly wasn’t complaining about the living conditions of the poor. She was pissed she couldnt’ find what she wanted to live in at a price she wanted to pay. This who exercise is nothing more than a leftie land grab.

l wineman,

* The linked article for enlistment rates does not say “region” (אזור). If it did, it would have used the proper term “Gush Dan”. It probably means Tel-Aviv the city.
** If you knew Haredi proportions (much higher in Jerusalem than the Bni Brak/Tel-Aviv percentage), you’d understand the data means much higher secular non-enlistment in Tel-Aviv.
*** Btw, there are Haredi in the North and South, though I am not sure about their proportion out of population.

* I actually agree with you the protest is a bit wider than the Tel-Aviv class – and in that sense the article is off. It started as a middle class protest, and some other groups joined in, both some which should receive more funds and some that don’t (it’s easy to demonstrate to get more money). I feel his criticism is still correct nevertheless (incoherent demands and clashing interests), and ultimately, I expect the government to buy off enough protesters and wear out the rest.

correction: does not say “region” -> does not say “Tel-Aviv region” and nor does it use the proper term “Gush Dan”

Lwineman says:

The charred population is higher in Jerusalem than tel aviv as is the non enlistment rate
The number of secular women who don’t enlist is tiny it is 100 pct for charediband close to half among dati lo charred
So if non enlistment is an indicator of genx self absorption it should be raised about a diff population

The protesters are well aware of the critique of incoherence and have an advisory committee of expert advisors made up of people just as expert as bibi s committee

Want incoherence . Take a look at the crony capitalist non free market oligopoly begun with finance minister bibi s privatization
.
.

Don’t be daft. The percentage in Tel Aviv of Haredi is so much smaller than in Jerusalem the difference has to come out of secular population. An article states Tel-Aviv is 53th in the country in enlistment rates, a bit below Rehat (50th):

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3986711,00.html

Oh, well, must be a lot of Haredi in the Bedouin city of Rehat…

The problem is that some demands and ideas are practically contradictory (the author has a nice list), essentially because they involve reduced intakes (taxation) and increased spending (services). Solving this requires a making a political, not economical, choice. This can’t be done by a committee of technocrats, even if it’s different from bibi’s committee. Personally, I hope they do actually make those choices – which would require going political.

Frankly, I’m irked from all the (self)-congratulating for an as yet unhatched egg. That reeks of the self-indulgence the author decries. I’d be happier if and when we get standard political give-and-take or even if we end up with the slightly less standard angry demonstrations with lots of tires burning.

“Even if we end up…” That sounds a bit too violent for what I meant.

The overall tone of this article saddens me somewhat. Pity the professionals, but condemn the kids who are living on the streets. Perhaps I am stating the obvious, but there seems to me to be a strangely poetic element to a popular protest that involves living on the streets when staged by a demographic that likely also faces high unemployment. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! That said, perhaps the Israeli youth might do well to consult with the UN/Palestinians for a few pointers on how to obtain modern conveniences on a budget. And for the love of God, quit peeing in my yard!

I think those who are angered by this article sort of miss the point. Hypocrisy. Many people who are truly underprivileged and powerless in Israeli society have tried for a decade to cry out against the rising cost of living and the cuts in services and support. The author’s point is that only when it hit the pocketbooks of the young educated elite were there mass protests. Where were these “social justice” protesters when the homeless, the Holocaust survivors, single mothers, and disabled needed their voice?

l wineman says:

you could go with the “analysis” by this ny based journalist…or you could make a reality check here
http://j14.org.il/

if only young americans were this self absorbed with incoherent views on improving the us economy

Maayan has it right! Yes the folks who started this in Tel Aviv are middle class but itsdeeper than that. Mr. Fromer is a bit disconnected from what is going on here in real time and his essay is too long and pretentious. As a former American and an 18-year resident of Israel fluent in Hebrew, Fromer’s comparison of young Israelis with America’s Generation X doesnt make sense to me. Please find some bilingual people who live in Israel who are energetic reporters and good writers to write for you.

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Generation א

The Tel Aviv tent protesters say they speak for a nation demanding social justice. In truth, they’re entitled yuppies who’ve finally found something worth fighting for: themselves.

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