In the four weeks since the social protests have begun in Israel, hundreds have been killed, dozens of women have reportedly been raped, a number of children tortured, and countless districts have been looted. The authorities have imposed a complete lock-down on all cellular networks. All access to Facebook and Twitter has been blocked. Little information is going in, or out.
Except the absolute, complete opposite.
The social protests in Israel began 4 weeks ago with a national outcry over the rising price of basics such as cottage cheese. They then snowballed into a full-blown national movement by way of a simple act by a then unknown young woman. The act? Striking a tent in Tel-Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard in protest of high apartment rental costs.
A single tent became the heart and soul of the movement whose main gripe is that the middle-class is bearing the brunt of an imbalanced budgetary spend. “The People Demand Social Justice” is the key chant.
The protests are local, scattered all across Israel, drawing hundreds to hundreds of thousands. Big name musicians volunteer to headline these protests. Barricades and PA systems, all donated. People talk about the movement at every cafe, over every lunch, at every business meeting, at every family dinner.
There have been a few skirmishes with the law. Small stuff though… For example, small groups of protesters were arrested by the police for blocking roads and were released without charges within a day.
Small potatoes aside, it’s been four weeks and zero acts of the barbaric, non-discriminatory violence we’ve seen across the middle east, and even in the UK. No shots fired. No stores looted. No form of communication has been shut down. In fact, not only have the Israeli police and army not taken any role other than safeguarding the protests themselves, they have even been applauded, literally, by hundreds of thousands for their efforts.
While in neighboring countries regimes are slaughtering the opposition, in Israel we have complete free speech to criticize our politicians and leaders. As I’m typing this, on the TV is Israel’s version of SNL doing a parody skit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mishandling of the situation (they have him wearing a red t-shirt with Che Guevara on it). YouTube mashups featuring the PM’s soundbites? Posted below for your scrolling convenience. Professional-level videos advertising the protests? Also, posted below.
Sorry Shervin, no need for your curation and retweeting on this one, the Israeli people are doing A-OK. Really, look:
The backbone of the movement has unquestionably been Facebook, via pages, and events, and of course Twitter, via the #j14 hashtag. A revolution needs a site, right? Right.
At this point there’s no guessing which people will next rise-up and demand political and social change. The world is not what it used to be before Tahrir. I wonder though how many of these future civil disobedience movements will be modeled upon Israel, where technology and love trumped violence.
Photo Credits: Itai Bachar