The social protests have begun again this summer….and have gotten off to a far rockier start. The US general and Jewish press pretty much buried the lede last summer trying to tie the protests to the American obsessions with Israel: Iran and the Israel Palestinian conflict.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The protests concentrated on the demands for “social justice “ (tzedek chevrati) and by the time of the largest demonstration the US equivalent of 20 million hit the streets. And although it is questionable how much has changed, the government felt obligated to appoint a prominent economist to produce a report calling for reforms. That would be roughly equivalent to seeing those developments attached to (a bit more moderate) occupy Wall Street.
But the interesting aspect of the protests I would like to discuss is the role played by Israel’s most prominent business newspaper The Marker roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in business reporting—although affiliated but independent of the liberal Haaretz in itself a bit of a strange combination of the NY Times of Israel affiliated with the WSJ of Israel.
Last year I attended the MARKER’s Israel 2021 conference. The conference began with some obligatory speeches by politicians. Then the real action began.. A room full of round tables in which participants discussed the most important DOMESTIC issues facing Israeli society: integrating the charedi and Arab populations into the workplace and environmental issues among others. All through the winter and spring THE MARKER laid the intellectual underpinning for the protests writing way before the summer protests. This through their extensive reporting about the concentration of the ownership in the economy and lack of competition in the consumer market for numerous products.
This year’s conference (they got my back in the photo that appeared in the paper) went even further. The roundtables represented 120 different bottom up projects to improve the society. And free space was given for booths from all times of social action groups ranging from women’s rights, developing the economies of the Negev and galil, and Bedouin rights.
Today The MARKER carried extensive supportive articles on the protests. The front page headline here: The Police Demand Continued Custody for the Protesters, the Judge Freed them Immediately
Imagine all this from a leading business publication in the US?
Another way that Israel is (WAY) different than the US and the assertion that Israel has moved “way to the right” may not give the full picture.
….And sitting here in the coffee shop I struck up a conversation with a writer involved in the protest who emailed me two of his articles