Just two little Tel Aviv neighborhood anecdotes about these dramatic times:
1) Yesterday I was walking along Chernichovsky Street near Gan Meir (Meir Park), and there was this little 6 year old kid (I estimate) marching along with his father, carrying a balloon, shouting Ha’am doresh tzedek chevrati! (The people demand social justice!). Trailing behind was a mother and a taller girl, looked 7-8 (his sister?), saying/asking her mother Ha’am doresh tzedek chevrati? Isn’t that right? Then, apparently convinced, she started shouting it as well;
2) At the pool this morning I asked Dov, a pensioner in his 80s, who osilates between Lieberman & Meretz on political issues, depending upon the headline, if he’d been to the Rothschild Blvd. tent encampment. “Of course”, he responded — “went with my son. And what did we see yesterday?”, he said with a smile — “a big improvised road sign pointing in the direction of Beersheva!” where tonight’s major demonstration will take place. He’s all positive about the protest movement, seeing it as a very encouraging sign.
|Demo in Jaffa (photo by H. Schenker)|
On Wednesday I participated in a discussion on peace and the protest movement at the joint Jewish-Arab community Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam, with representatives of the 60 peace & human rights groups of the Israeli PeaceNGO Forum. Everyone is both surprised and overwhelmed by the mass protest phenomenon, seeing a tremendous potential for positive change within Israeli society. Former Meretz MK Mosi Raz, now co-director of All For Peace Radio, noted that he and other Meretz members were received very well at the tent encampments, but as Israelis, human beings, and not as politicians.
This is a people’s movement, and at this stage, they are not interested in people as party activists, only as human beings who identify. Thus, he recommended, and I agree, that nobody should try to bring a political agenda to the protest, at this stage. The time for politics will come, particularly towards the next elections. The general consensus was that the same is true for the peace movement, as we near September and the Palestinian move for recognition in the UN General Assembly.
Danit Gotfried, a bright young women (I mean it, very bright and very young), presented the outlines of a social media campaign — 50 Reasons not to be Afraid of a Palestinian State. One of the ideas was to turn the song by Muki — Kulam mdabrim al shalom, v’af echad lo midaber al tzedek (Everyone is speaking about peace, and no one is speaking about justice) on its head. Now everyone is speaking about social justice, but no one’s speaking about peace.
The general consensus was that this is the last thing that we as representatives of the peace movement should do. We shouldn’t attempt to impose our agenda on the current agenda, or to suggest that they are focusing on the wrong problem.
There is a natural rhythm and flow to this protest, and the connections will eventually be made. When people start asking about the change in socio-economic priorities, and where the money will come from, that will be the time to point out the enormous sums being spent on the settlements, security, and to provide for the primarily non-productive ultra-Orthodox sector. And anyway, September will come, and impact the agenda.
I can’t resist drawing attention to an op-ed in this week’s Ha’aretz by Ari Shavit, in which he declares that “the spirit of Hashomer Hatzair is making a comeback”.
Here’s an excerpt:
The beauty of the concept “social justice” lies in the fact that it is totally retro. There’s nothing more fifties than social justice. There’s nothing more Hashomer Hatzair than social justice. But suddenly, via Facebook, the fifties are making a comeback, the spirit of Hashomer Hatzair is making a comeback. And the battle cry of the comeback is not an advertising slogan, but the heartfelt cry of a nation that is demanding the most basic thing: justice. Justice, not charity. Justice for the individual and justice for society. Jewish justice, Israeli justice, universal justice. Social justice.
This links to the entire article: Israel’s revolution must not become a missed opportunity.
And here’s Muki: