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Can Israel's social justice protest movement make a comeback? & MORE

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  • Cort Greene
    An open door in the Separation Wall in the West
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2013
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      An open door in the Separation Wall in the West Bank village of Al Walaja,
      May 7, 2013. Once completed, the wall will completely surround Al Walaja
      village. (Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

      Activestills <http://972mag.com/author/activestills/>From Jerusalem Day
      clashes to stone-throwing settlers: A week in photos - May

      May 10,


      WATCH: Thousands of ultra-Orthodox protest women's prayer at Western

      May 10




      Can Israel's social justice protest movement make a comeback?

      *Will Israeli masses return to the streets for social justice?*

      After nearly a month of weekly
      the house of Yair Lapid, the new finance minister – numbering about 400
      people each and organized by post-#J14 groups for public housing – a much
      bigger demonstration is planned for Saturday night with more than 10,000
      people declaring they will attend on the Facebook event

      The protests are erupting as Lapid promotes a new budget, which looks much
      like the one planned by the previous government. It was ultimately public
      pressure that led the government to scrap the budget and call for
      elections, in which Lapid got massive support on the ticket of “defender of
      the middle class.” Lapid supporters feel betrayed by the former TV
      presenter and columnist, who is about to raise taxes and cut subsidies and
      government spending instead of tackling the banks, massive corporations and
      large-scale capitalists. On Saturday they are likely to join opposition
      forces out on the streets.
      [image: Demonstration outside home of Lapid, Thursday night (Oren Ziv /

      Demonstration outside home of Lapid, Thursday night (Oren Ziv /

      The revival of larger public protests for social justice is accompanied by
      the same old questions that hung over #J14 in the summer of 2011. While the
      official event is targeting not only capital but the settlements in the
      West Bank, and while leftist parties are preparing to make their presence
      felt on the streets, some are once again calling for the protests to be
      “a-political” (that is: not to mention the occupation) so as to “allow a
      wider base of support.” Tensions might also arise between the old and
      somewhat centrist leadership of the movement and other leaders from the
      social periphery, who have been constantly active since July 2011. It
      remains to be seen how these differences will be played out this time
      around and whether the protests could be hijacked by
      again. Saturday night might be a serious test for all these questions, as
      well as for the movement’s ability to get the masses back out on the



      ← Against the tide: Daam’s long journey <http://en.daam.org.il/?p=402>
      The Israeli attacks on Syria serve Assad’s criminal regime

      Lapid’s war against the workers
      Posted on 02/05/2013 <http://en.daam.org.il/?p=408> by Yacov Ben

      <http://en.daam.org.il/?attachment_id=409>Yair Lapid had hardly settled
      into his Knesset seat before the Finance Ministry declared war on the
      ultra-Orthodox, on the Histadrut, on the monopolies – in short, a world
      war. What the father Tommy began with Netanyahu in 2003, the
      well-disciplined son is completing ten years later, fulfilling his father’s
      directives. Tommy Lapid has passed away, but Netanyahu has received renewed
      strength to continue the process he began as finance minister in Ariel
      Sharon’s government. Netanyahu paid a heavy price when he lost the general
      elections to Ehud Olmert, but a man like Bibi doesn’t despair – especially
      when another Lapid arrives to restore his self-confidence.

      The “open skies” agreement (increasing foreign competition in the airlines
      industry) was the real test. Ynet and Army Radio, Iran, Syria and
      Hezbollah, Avigdor Lieberman’s trial, Nochi Dankner’s tribulations – they
      are all troublesome and cause us to despair. But Netanyahu and Lapid are
      promising us a break from such things via cheap flights abroad. They also
      promise cheap electricity, cheap phone calls, and cheap cars. When their
      world war ends, everything will be cheaper. All we need to do is privatize
      the Israeli economy and open it up to competition, and all will be smooth
      and efficient.

      *Cheap things cost a fortune*

      The problem is, cheap things are expensive. Netanyahu privatized the
      pension funds, and workers’ payments now flow straight into Dankner’s
      hands. He privatized the health services, and now reasonable health care
      and medicines are impossible to get without some kind of “complementary”
      private health insurance. He privatized welfare, and the number of those
      living in poverty grew. He privatized the dairy concern Tnuva and the price
      of cottage cheese rose. He also privatized Israel’s national shipping
      company Zim and handed it to the Ofer brothers, and since then it’s been
      suffering losses. Ten years have passed, and social inequality rates in
      Israel are now among the highest in the western world – but Bibi and Lapid
      continue their self-appointed task as if nothing has changed and the
      Israeli public is stupid.

      Cheap things cost a fortune because behind every privatization and every
      move to open the market to competition lies the principle of “efficiency”,
      which means reduction of personnel, which means unemployment. For example,
      in El Al, like other airlines, some 82% of expenditures are fixed costs
      such as fuel and ground services. The remaining 18%, the cost of wages, is
      where cost-cutting measures can be implemented. Competition is between
      those who manage to get more out of fewer workers for lower wages. Thus El
      Al will cut back on its workforce by one third, and – in simple terms –
      some 2000 workers will be sent home.

      The aim is to obtain cheaper workers, and competition between workers is a
      cruel game. Nobody can compete with Chinese workers. China is becoming an
      economic superpower because it hires its workers at slave wages. In this
      way, entire industries have been wiped out around the globe, particularly
      in the US but also in Israel. And when it is impossible to “relocate”
      factories outside the national borders, foreign labor is imported to
      replace local workers. This is what has occurred in the construction
      industry, agriculture and homecare, under the pretext that Israelis don’t
      want to do this kind of work.

      It is clear that the first step after privatization is dismissal of
      workers, and new firms make certain that their workers have no union
      support. Thus the minimum wage has become, in practice, the maximum. One
      must work in one and a half full-time positions to earn the average wage.
      Industrial workers labor 12-hour shifts at minimum wage just to reach NIS
      8,000 a month ($2200). And to complete the picture we need to add contract
      labor, free-lancers, and those with “personal” contracts – all lack
      employment security and protection of their rights. This is the sorry
      situation in which some two million workers in Israel find themselves.

      *Who isn’t good at management?*

      The Finance Ministry asserts that the government isn’t good at management,
      so we need professionals with initiative who are willing to take risks in
      order to lead the economy. It also asserts that dismissing workers creates
      new jobs elsewhere. For example, the “open skies” agreement will lead to
      the dismissal of some 2000 El Al workers, but also to an increase in
      tourists, which will create thousands of jobs in the tourist industry. The
      textile industry was also wiped out by the removal of import duties, backed
      by the claim that this would lead to growth in the industry within a
      decade. But the truth is, growth benefited only a few and the vast majority
      does not benefit at all. Meanwhile thousands of women in the peripheral
      regions, in the south and in the Arab towns in particular, became

      After years of trial, it’s worth asking how the tycoons have proved they
      know how to manage the economy better than the state. Zim is sinking under
      debt and is requesting a write-off; Dankner is facing bankruptcy after
      taking control of an empire of some 40,000 workers; Tshuva, Leviev, Zisser,
      Ben Dov and others took risks with public money and refuse to pay for
      losses out of their own pockets. Teva, meanwhile, makes profits of
      billions, yet pays zero tax. But when they are nevertheless asked to pay
      something for the sake of the homeland they take umbrage and move to
      London, the favorite tax haven.

      Lapid tells us there are three factors responsible for the harsh social
      situation: the ultra-Orthodox, the Arabs, and Alon Hassan, chairperson of
      the Ashdod Port workers’ committee. Yes, apparently Alon Hassan is the real
      villain, and Bibi and Lapid have declared war on him too. Hassan likes to
      eat steak, he employs his own family at the port, he earns NIS 30,000 per
      month, and he, it seems, is the main cause of the high cost of living.
      Hassan and the other large workers’ committees are public enemies, which
      justifies a policy of “targeted liquidation.” Hassan and his ilk must agree
      to streamlining, viz. privatization, the transfer of the port to some
      tycoon or other. He must also agree to the employment of contract workers
      instead of regular workers. Thus, instead of Hassan and his friends earning
      NIS 30,000 per month, some capitalist will pocket millions – after all, the
      capitalist deserves it, he took the risk at the expense of the public.

      The principle is clear: all those earning NIS 30,000 must be wiped out to
      make jobs for those who earn NIS 5000. The profits from Ashdod Port, the
      Electricity Corporation, the gas and Dead Sea industries will flow into the
      pockets of a few individuals while the status of workers continues to
      decline. At least in one area workers and tycoons are equal: neither pays
      tax – the former because they don’t earn enough; the latter because they
      “earn” too much. The results are clear – the state loses revenue, public
      services are retrenched and privatized, poverty increases, and no social
      safety net remains to shore up the less fortunate.

      Despite the huge social protest of summer 2011, the tycoons, settlers and
      their representatives in the government continue to scorn the public. The
      economic system is bankrupt. It is built upon lies, fraud, and the
      destruction of the democratic process.

      Lapid’s war is not the struggle of working people but the war of the
      tycoons. Ishay Davidi, the tycoon preparing to take over El Al and send so
      many workers home, is a significant contributor to Lapid’s political party.
      So when Lapid breaks El Al workers and declares war against them, who is he
      really acting for? For the workers? Or for those who funded his path to the

      *– Translated from the Hebrew by Yonatan Preminger*


      By Ami Kaufman <http://972mag.com/author/amik/> |Published May 9, 2013'Mr.
      Palestine, you'll just have to wait your turn'

      *Every once in a while I get a comment on one of my posts along the lines
      of: ‘Why don’t you do anything about Syria, huh? If you’re such a human
      rights activist, why don’t you care about places where people are suffering
      much more right in your neighborhood? Huh??’ or ‘You know, the Arabs have
      it much better in Israel than anywhere else! They should count their
      blessings!’ *

      ***And it makes me wonder…*

      Settlers throw stones at Palestinians as IDF soldiers stand by in the West
      Bank village of Asira al Qibliya. April 30, 2013 (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

      *Ring, ring! Ring, ring!*

      *Operator*: Atrocities Unlimited, how can I help you?

      *Palestine*: Hello, my name is Palestine.

      *Operator*: Hello Mr. Palestine, what can I do for you?

      *Palestine*: Yes, well, I understand you end atrocities and human rights

      *Operator*: That’s very true. Are you suffering from an atrocity or human
      rights violation, sir?

      *Palestine*: Yes, I am. I have been under occupation for 46 years.

      *Operator*: Occupation?

      *Palestine*: Yes, occupation.

      *Operator*: Sir, you do understand that we assist on a Worst Come, First
      Serve basis?

      *Palestine*: Excuse me?

      *Operator*: A Worst Come, First Serve basis.

      *Palestine*: What does that mean?

      *Operator*: It means we deal with the worst atrocity first. You are not the
      worst atrocity, sir.

      *Palestine*: I didn’t say I was, but… but… I am suffering.

      *Operator*: I’m sure you’re suffering but there are others out there who
      need our help before you, sir.

      *Palestine*: But…

      *Operator*: …and until then you just have to sit quiet and wait your turn.
      Will that be it, sir?

      *Palestine*: But wait! OK, OK… so, tell me where I am in line… can you do

      *Operator*: 31.

      *Palestine*: 31?!?!? There are 31 peoples before me?

      *Operator*: Yes, sir.

      *Palestine*: But, what does that mean? How long do I have to wait?

      *Operator*: That depends.

      *Palestine*: On what?

      *Operator*: Many things. For example, if there’s an international
      intervention in Syria, you might move up a space or two.

      *Palestine*: A space or two?

      *Operator*: Yes, sir.

      *Palestine*: I don’t feel well. Who else is in front of me?

      *Operator*: Well, according to my board here, there’s some rough stuff
      going down in Sudan, China, Mali, Myanmar and others, to name a few. But,
      it’s all pretty fluid.

      *Palestine*: So… You can’t tackle more than one at a time? I have to wait?

      *Operator*: I’m afraid so, sir.

      *Palestine*: But I’ve been waiting so long.

      *Operator*: Well, have you tried a change of tactics?

      *Palestine*: I’ve tried everything.

      *Operator*: Patience, sir. All I can say is: patience. And thank you for
      calling Atrocities Unlimited!

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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