March 16, 2012 | 11:28 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
What does being an Israeli mean? For many years, people have tried to name this “thing” that we, Israelis, have. What is that “quality”? Lacking a scientific definition, people had to come up with a Hebrew name for it. There is not a word in the English vocabulary that has the same meaning. There can’t be, for this word describes something that’s all Israeli. “Excuse me, I need to cut in line, I just have a question…” Yes, Israelis have “Chutzpah”, and lots of it. You know what else? We’re proud of it!
That “Chutzpah” got us in a bit of trouble over the years. Traffic Wardens all over the world will never forget reading the sign: “Don’t’ give me a ticket, I’ll be right back” on a car parking in a non-parking zone. Waiters will always remember the Israeli couple who asked to return a dish, because they “didn’t think it would look like this” when they read the menu. Not all of us are like that, but we can all use some “Chutzpah”, when needed. Deep in my heart, I always knew this “Chutzpah” will change the world. Now it’s closer than ever. Thanks to a few strongly opinionated Israelis, the socio-economic order of Israel, and perhaps of the entire world, may change as never before.
One hot summer morning in June, a young Israeli man noticed that the price of the Cottage Cheese sold by the leading dairy company was rising. Again. That man decided that he had had enough and formed a protest group on Facebook. In the age of social networks and instant messaging, it wasn’t long before thousands of people joined him in his protest. This soon became “the protest of the middle class”. It began with a demand to lower the price of dairy products in Supermarkets: after that company showed no interest in lowering the prices, many people actually stopped purchasing certain dairy products.
- Here I need to explain something: In our small country, there is virtually no competition in a few of our industrial branches. One of them is the dairy products branch-
What began as a small protest that the “big guys” believed would fade away, soon spread at the speed of light: the protesters demanded Social Justice. Young protesters, who are unable to afford purchasing a house in Israel, due to sky-rocketing real- estate prices, settled in tents. The first “tent city” grew in Tel- Aviv. Soon, more and more tents showed up all over the country. Later on, parents of young children raised their voices against the high cost of child education. This struggle came to its peak when mothers of young children marched, pushing strollers, in 16 different cities at the same time.
This was only the tip of the iceberg. During this summer, the Israelis got together and demanded Social Justice, and no one could ignore it. Not even the people sitting in the highest chairs. The climax and highlight of this nation-wide protest was a mass demonstration that significantly took place in the Nation’s Square in Tel-Aviv. 400 thousand people came to protest against the impending extinction of the middle class. This was the biggest protest Israel has ever seen. After three months of ongoing, tiring struggle and countless headlines- our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has decided to convene a governmental committee to help create Social Justice in Israel. This committee has yet to come up with a result that would satisfy the protestors, but no one has given up yet.
Just when we thought this couldn’t get any bigger, the middle-stage protest became world-wide. Tents began to show up in New-York, Madrid, Chicago, London and more. More and more signs were held up high, as Wall Street was occupied.
At a time when socio-economic disparities are growing, the middle class began to slowly disappear. One day, some Israelis opened their mouths, and now the world may change forever. All thanks to some good, old fashioned Israeli “Chutzpah”.
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