Can Israel's social justice protest movement make a comeback? & MORE
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
WATCH: Thousands of ultra-Orthodox protest women's prayer at Western
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
*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
***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.
*Palestine*: Yes, occupation.
*Operator*: Sir, you do understand that we assist on a Worst Come, First
*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.
*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
*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]