Friday, August 12, 2011
There are now 2,000 (!) tents and various other structures pegged into the former grass along Rothschild Boulevard and (according to a police survey) a total of 3,383 around the country. At this stage of the "revolution", as a stroll down Rothschild clearly revealed, the original "the rent is too damned high" protestors have been augmented , if not outnumbered, by the rest of am yisrael. A partial list includes doctors, psychologists ('Bibi, ask Sarah, what a psychologist earns is chara [shit]'), social workers, animal rights groups, environmental activists; Ethiopians, immigration seekers, divorced fathers settler "hillop youth", old age pensioners,Communists, Kahanists and Reform Jews who want to separate religion and state. Each has its own compound and conducts earnest seminars on the synthetic rush mats that cover the entire area. Some have fully-staffed information desks and cable TV while others are simple tent-and-megaphone jobs. I was handed a flyer by a man who writes that in fact, life is a picnic and that everyone could have a home by fitting out an old truck."...for residential purposes or for fitting out as a grocery store or school or garage. It's legal - my vehicle is recognised as my home and I go everywhere in it , parking for several months at a time. ..."
Environmental activists in an eco-circle
Another leaflet, was stuck into my hand by a girl from the 'Revolution of Love' group before she skipped off to join her blissful, friends who were dancing down the boulevard armed with a guitar singing "Love for Love's Sake." I learned from the leaflet that I was a "Good Soul", that the reason that I was here was because I was loved and, as soon as I accepted this great love, I could begin to place faith in myself and then go on to helping others..." Wow!
I was getting flashbacks to the sixties but as I picked my way through the sprawling encampment, these soon passed. With everyone and his savta (grandmother) jumping on to the bandwagon, I had the uncomfortable feeling that the tent city had passed its peak, had turned into a three ring circus and in general was beginning to overstay its welcome. Last Saturday saw the biggest social protest in Israel ever with an amazing demo (over 250,000 in Tel Aviv alone) and the government , by now well and truly panicked, has appointed a panel, including representatives of the protestors to propose a new social-economic agenda. This means gruelling weeks of hearings on how to real tacle the real economic dilemmas behind the slogans. The protest movement wants to stay in the streets as long as October if necessary as an ever present threat, ready to explode, should the government try to pull a fast one but will, indeed should, the tents really be there that long?
The pensioners and their care-givers who live along Rothschild lapping it all up.
According to today's papers, the police and local authorities are gearing up to serve eviction notices, or as one columnist put it, after the government embraced the protest movement, "Dr. Jekyll will soon be turning against Mr. Hyde Park". The pretext is that the police may have to deal with mas disturbances in September when the Palestinians request UN recognition and don't want to be dealing with two major scenarios simultaneously. The protest movement has been remarkably peaceful so far but if the police follow through with their eviction plans before the protestors feel that they've achieved something concrete, the summer of love could yet turn to violence.
'A revolution of consciousness'made out of a garland of artificial flowers
Also, taking up more of the headlines is the horrendous economic news from the US and Europe and the big cuts in the profits of Israel's leading holding companies, the hated "tycoons" who are among the the social protest movement's targets. The tycoons' greed may be worthy target but if they go bust, so does the rest of the economy, including the pensions of the middle class. Neither of these developments is going to help maintain support for strident social protests.
Facing a possibly violent eviction, including the possibility of violence and/or a prolonged anti-climax as the story turns from an authentic outpouring of protest to horse trading inside committee rooms, perhaps the smartest move would be to quit while you're still ahead and up stakes now. Claim victory, threaten a possible return to the streets if the government breaks its word and head for the committee rooms with the public still firmly behind you.
You can see more new revolutionary images here