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

Arab flotillas versus Jewish flotillas

Flotilla frenzy is at a peak. The Israeli army is leaking reports of ships loaded with sulphur and god knows what else.  Ehud “Mad Dog” Barak and our plank of a chief of staff labelled the flotilla a “provocation,” as if that was the first cousin of a pogrom.

Of course it’s a fucking provocation. To provoke is to incite, anger or irritate and that’s exactly what the organizers of the flotilla want to do. To provoke the world into remembering Gaza. Because what Israel wants is for the world to forget it. As if Israel never indulged in provocation itself. Continue reading

Israel and the apartheid mindset

Arthur Goldreich died in Israel a few weeks ago. I only met him a couple of times over the years, but he was a formative figure when I was growing up, as the Rivonia detainee who, along with Harold Wolpe,escaped from detention in Marshal Square (I think) and miraculously managed to get out of South Africa.

The Pimpernel-like escape of Goldreich and Wolpe was one of the few rays of light during a very dark period for the opposition to apartheid. The Nationalist regime was rampant, and its inability to catch the two (Jewish) escapees was a vicarious victory for those of us who hated the Nats. That, at any rate, is how I remember it. Continue reading

When fact is narrative and narrative is fact

There’s a surprisingly simplistic and confused article by Shlomo Avineri in today’s Ha’aretz. I’ve never been a big fan of Avineri’s middle-of-the-road politics, but I always thought him to be smart. Not any more.

I assume it’s the ravages of age – and far be it for an old fart like me to hold that against anyone. Avineri was a professor at the Hebrew U when I was a student there (or was that the period he was DG of the Foreign Ministry?) My fucking memory is shot. Either way, the dude has got to be pretty ancient.  But that doesn’t excuse his writing crap. Continue reading

All Our Little Eichmanns

My apartment in Tel Aviv is around the corner from Kikar Rabin, the central square that is the site of choice for demonstrations, celebrations and municipal events. It is also, of course, the place where former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, an event that transformed the plain and not particularly attractive square into a tourist attraction of sorts.

Prominent amongst the visitors to the square on any given day are groups of young American adults on so-called birthright tours, zionist propaganda missions sponsored by the Israeli government, US Jewish federations and a number of rich individuals, such as Charles Bronfman.  The purpose of bringing these groups to Israel, according to the organization’s web site, is to “diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; to strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and to strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.” Continue reading

Putting the Boot into Obama

Two days ago I wrote about the dispiriting spectacle (to put it mildly) of an American president having to bend the knee in front of a group of his countrymen doing the bidding of a foreign country. I was referring, of course, to Barak Obama’s appearance before the American Israel Publics Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to put forward his side of the disagreement with Bibi Netanyahu.

Since then a couple of things have happened that put a far more alarming spin on the Obama-Netanyahu row. Continue reading

First black president chooses slavery over emancipation

Well, as was to be expected, Obama chickened out.

Faced by the zionist hordes at the AIPAC conference, Obama backtracked on even the partial independence he had declared two days previously. All it took was a public tantrum by Netanyahu and a couple of days of Israel-inspired threats, and Obama put the chains back on his own ankles. No more emancipation for this president; slavery to the zionists is preferable, especially when there is an election to be won and a reactionary senate to make his life miserable. Continue reading

Obama should take Israel for a walk on the wild side

I’m getting a little tired of Barak Obama.  He says all the right things (well, many of them) with great earnestness and commitment, but even as he’s speaking you know that fuck-all is going to happen. It’s all hot air.

Last night’s speech on the Middle East, was typical of what we’ve come to expect of Obama: liberal, even-handed, decent and so sincere it makes you want to puke. All that, and useless besides. Totally, fucking useless. A waste of oxygen. He would have done better blowing up one of those water mattresses (in South Africa we used to call them lilos, for some reason) and going to hang out with some chicks at the White House pool. Continue reading

On mad dogs and Israelis

My fucking dog kept me up the whole night with his barking.

Why was he barking? Who knows? Why does Bibi talk the shit he talks and Ehud ‘Fukushima’ Barak fuck up everything he touches?

Because he’s Israeli – paranoid, obsessive, narcissistic and loudmouthed. Whatever is going on outside – a cat scruffing up the leaves or a neighbor talking too loudly on the phone at three in the morning – it’s all about him. And not only is it all about him, but it’s aimed at him. He’s being victimized. And, being a post-Holocaust dog in the sovereign state of Israel, he’s not going to take that shit anymore.

Like the rest of us here, he has assumed the twin burdens of being one of the chosen and the eternal victim.

This morning, I’m tired and irritable, while the arsehole is sound asleep in his basket, farting gently in his oblivion. That’s also typical; the wounded innocence. Me? What did I do? Why is everyone pissed off with me? Who was barking all night? What do you mean occupying and brutalizing the Palestinians for decades? There’s no-one to talk to.

The historian of the future is not going to lack for primary sources when writing about the monumental folly that was Israel. He’ll have his work cut out for him, slogging his way through the labyrinths  of bureaucratic jargon, bombastic self-justifications, depraved rabbinical fatwas  and smug media apologias. Not only are we hell-bent on screwing up, but we’re going to do so in a blaze of words, video and bits & bytes. This time around, we’re not going to go quietly.

Maybe, just maybe, a lone and unassuming voice from a modest apartment in Tel Aviv can illuminate where all the bluster and pomposity befuddles. That’s the humble purpose of this blog: to reflect from street level on Israel’s descent into dementia.

If nothing else, it will give me something to do at night when the fucking dog is barking.