Saturday, August 6, 2011

Arab Spring; Israeli Summer?

       It has been a disorderly summer in Israel.

       Unaffordable housing has been a problem in Israel for years, and it is getting worse -- just like it has been in the United States.  Israel has always followed the same failed economic model that the US adopted after World War II -- increasing debt, consumerism, high taxes and inflation.  In both countries, wealthy special interests have been in the catbird seat and the ordinary citizen suffers.

       A month ago, the stirring of a butterfly's wings produced a small hurricane in the Promised Land.  A young lady announced that she was going to protest unaffordable housing by pitching a tent and living in it.   Right in the city -- Tel Aviv, I think.  She was quickly joined by others -- young and middle-aged workers, professionals, and unemployed.  The unrest has risen to the point that tens of thousands are taking to the streets and pointedly expressing their dissatisfaction.  They are tired of a government that keeps using "security needs" and never-ending fear in order to justify its oppression and manipulation of its own people.

       There are several very informative videos available.  Here is a link to Gilad Atzmon.  Here is one to Real News Network.  Please watch them, they are fairly short.

       One of the most striking things to me in these clips is the obviousness of the utterly materialist and ultimately meaningless life-style of the average Israeli.  They have built nothing more holy than New-Jersey-on-the-Mediterranean.  The endlessly repeated propaganda pictures that feature black-suited orthodox praying and chanting at the Wailing Wall is about as typical of Israel as would be repeated pictures of Amish families in Lancaster County riding in the family buggies to church in America.  True as facts; just totally atypical and irrelevant to the average underpaid, overcharged, and overspent consumer.

       I do not mean to imply that the Israelis are undergoing any kind of moral self-examination.  This is a solidly middle-class pocketbook issue, much like the current stir in America.  They have no more concern for their own poor (let alone Palestinian Muslims and Christians as such) than the tea-partiers in America have for love, liberty, and live-and-let-live.

       Still, it is interesting.  The times they may be a-changin.  What next?

*       *       *

       Here is late word from Israel. "270,000 attend Israel's biggest pocketbook protest." (Aug 6)  Thoughts pro and con always welcome.

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