Visiting normal countries is bad for an Israeli’s health

A few thoughts after a virtually stress-free month in Australia and South Africa:

Australia is wonderful for many reasons: the natural beauty of Sydney (where we spent our time,) the down-to-earth friendliness of the Australians and so on. But what struck me most is that it’s a country seemingly without an agenda; no-one – neither the government nor any dominant group in society – tries to shove an ideology down your throat.

Religion is left to the individual; if there’s an Australian equivalent of the Tea Party it’s out on the fringes and gets no play in the media. I felt no racial or ethnic tensions, though I’m sure they exist. (Like the US, Australia virtually decimated its native inhabitants at a time when such things passed under the radar.) Continue reading

Where is the social protest movement headed?

People whose views and instincts I trust (see Chanan Kubitsky’s piece below) assure me that the protest movement over the cost of living is the real thing and will lead to significant change. Not having experienced the beginnings of the social revolt myself, I defer to their greater knowledge.

I have my doubts, however.

1. I find it difficult to accept that, after 44 years of silent acquiescence to (if not actual participation in) the brutal colonization of the Palestinians, Israel’s middle class – or its more youthful component – has suddenly woken up to the fact that injustice exists in Israeli society. In my experience, Israelis are, on the whole, far too indifferent, self-satisfied and mercenary to make much of an effort for the common good. As soon as the individuals that make up the movement feel that they have achieved something for themselves, most of them will return to their middle class self-indulgence, I suspect. Continue reading

Stirring up a neurotic nation

I was out of Israel when the social protest movement began and, deep in post-vacation blues, I haven’t managed to come to grips with it since my return. The following piece was written by Chanan Kubitsky.

What can drive an Israeli to leave the confines of her comfortable air-conditioned home and take to the sweaty Tel Aviv streets one day in July?

Not having one.

Four weeks ago, Daphne Leef, a video editor aged 25, lost her apartment to an outrageously high demand for rent. So she pitched a tent in the middle of Rothschild Boulevard. Pretty soon other tents popped up with some more disgruntled renters. They sleep over, brush their teeth in the garden fountain, shower at the gym, and go to work. Continue reading