It has been said lately by Western media outlets that the tent movement going on in Israel is a ‘revolution‘ or ‘Israeli Arab Spring.’ This could not be any more disingenuous, incorrect, or belittling of the Arab Spring movements. Israelis are mostly protesting about prices, specifically for homes and necessary goods. This is the one and only connection to the Arab Spring movement, specifically in Egypt, where the movement was started by economically marginalized sectors of Egyptian society. The media is just as to blame about this issue considering their coverage and wording. Calling this the “Israeli Arab Spring” is insulting, plain insulting to all those who have and continue to fight for rights they have only heard in words. Thousands have been killed since January, many are refugees, and many linger in prison for demanding freedom. How many Israelis have been killed, tortured, beaten, and arrested in these tent protests?
The protests to me ignore almost every issue that leads to the problems they are complaining about, in addition, the media have reported them horrendously. Israel for over 43 years has occupied millions of people, deported or revoked residency for hundreds of thousands, and systematically oppresses a whole people. Not just in the West Bank and Gaza but in Israel itself, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt where the majority of Palestinian refugees live. Even a basic reading on the issue makes it impossible to ignore this fact. What is also ignored by this movement is how Israel came about in the first place, something that has been systematic since the creation of the Zionist movement. After the 1948 war and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population many Jews were housed in the remaining houses (which were not demolished) by the Zionists. They were given free houses, cheap “state land” (meaning land that was confiscated by the State of Israel after 1948 from its Palestinian inhabitants and then refugees), and more rights than the indigenous Palestinians.
Since 1967 Israel has confiscated land and given exuberant subsidies for Israelis to live in illegally occupied territory. Currently 8.5% of the Jewish Israeli population lives in the West Bank and this number only gets higher and higher. Israel also gets billions of dollars in aid and has for almost 35 years while conducting this illegal occupation. Israelis have benefited financially for their committing of war crimes and they have the testicular fortitude to complain and demand more? In the words of Ali Abunimah, who I am not a particular fan of, “‘So #j14 is like whites protesting for better incomes in 1985 South Africa, but leaving out apartheid because it’s “too divisive.”‘
It is even harder to feel bad for Israeli protesters when you consider the housing issue Israel creates in the West Bank and Gaza, and in the Jordan Valley specifically. Israel demolishes at will in Area C, which constitutes 42% of the West Bank, and bombs Gaza at will, making hundreds, if not thousands of Gazans homeless every time they carry out operations in Gaza. So much is being done in their name, yet they are complaining about rent prices?
Yet how many herder communities in the Jordan Valley have experienced house demolitions? How many have been arrested or tortured during this time, while thousands of Palestinians linger in Israeli jail and are subject to torture? How many Israelis have had their children, yes children, have been illegally arrested, beaten, and scared into signing a false confession which will cause them problems the rest of their lives? How many Israelis have experienced land confiscation since the protests started, such as is the case in the Jordan Valley as part of a new plan to expand settler dunams and water usage?
So where is the talk of the occupation? The occupation, rightly, is what is potentially hindering the Israeli economy.Almost 25% of the world does not recognize Israel, which means there are no relations, economic specifically between them. Israel has little access and reciprocity of trade with its neighbors, hence has to import and export to the EU and the United States. Neighboring Arab countries, in addition to other reasons, are made poor by the current situation regarding Israel. Hence until a peace agreement occurs, this situation will be exasperated, bringing up costs, and the surrounding Arab states will have to spend billions on reconstruction and refugee expenditures. Regimes like the one in Syria have attempted over the past 40 years to manipulate the issue of Israel to maintain high military spending, further exasperating the situation.
Israeli and international media made a big hype about 300,000 of 5.9m Israeli Jews protesting in the tent movement. This is an equal amount to those who protested against the redeployment of Gaza settlements 6 years ago when the number of Jews was less. This is lower than the 400,000 (when Israeli Jews were under 5m in 1994) when Rabin gave his famous speech, and what did that get us?
Until this movement actually addresses real issues within its society, and quits ignoring the massive violations of human rights, international law and human decency, this movement is an insult, and absolute insult to the Arab Spring, along with any comparisons. But let’s ignore that, your rent is too high.