What Do They Want to Achieve? The Tent City Protests
Over the past two weeks I have been combating disturbances in Israeli cities that aim to overthrow the government of Israel. Fortunately, participants in these disturbances have not been using guns or knives to hurt anyone. Their weapon of choice is rent money.
I have spent a lot of time visiting the tent cities that arose amid demands that the government see to lower rent and other concerns. What I have seen leads me to believe that the leaders aim not only to lower prices, but to bring down the Netanyahu administration—as they often say in their discussions, to recreate Tahrir Square.
Naturally, I would prefer that Tahrir Square stay in Cairo. The people of Egypt needed to change their government through mass protests because there were no real elections there. We Israelis, though, have elections on a regular basis. We did not assign this assortment of extremist political operatives and vacationing students the right to occupy private land, to block major intersections, and to speak and negotiate in our name. This is at best highly undemocratic.
On the other hand, having discovered who the lead protesters are, I am not surprised by their antidemocratic tendencies. The disturbances were initiated by Daphne Leef, an employee of the New Israel Fund, which is known for funding organizations that work to stigmatize Israel and the IDF, and to promote boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.
Another leader is Stav Shafir, a self-avowed semi-anarchist in the employ of the news company Yediot Aharonot, which opposes Netanyahu and has been covering the protests nonstop.
Other prominent participants include Asaf Nadiv, who was convicted in 1989 of membership in the Trotskyite terrorist group Derech Hanitzotz; writer Anat Rosilio, who in December 2008 strongly opposed Operation Cast Lead against rocket fire from Gaza; Tzvika Besor, a self-described devotee of communist Dov Khenin; and more than a few other communist and anarchist activists.
The leaders are aided by teams of academics and operatives from fringe political organizations that coordinate protesters’ messages and see to the expulsion of opponents who make themselves heard.
In keeping with their politics, these activists genuinely want to lower the cost of living. This is a legitimate goal: prices are indeed too high. Unfortunately for them, their goal is complicated by their ideological opposition to a solution that permits private enterprise to make a profit in exchange for building housing, which is why they have readily dismissed Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposals.
The activists’ goal also is complicated by their own opposition to building housing for Israelis in the available open spaces. These same activists and organizations oppose action to put an end to illegal building for illegal immigrants in southern Tel Aviv. They oppose action by law enforcement to remove Arab and Bedouin squatters from land they have occupied in the Galilee and the northern Negev. Of course, they also oppose letting Jews live in Judea and Samaria. Because specific policies that they support artificially limit the amount of real estate available for housing Israelis, among other factors, housing prices are excessive.
Aside from the problem of housing, the campaign also serves as a way to pressure the prime minister. The same dynamic reigns here as in the debate over whether to release convicted terrorists from prison: organizations such as the New Israel Fund provide money for the protesters to protest or for the Schalit Task Force to demand the release of hundreds of murderers, like-minded Israeli media amplify the message and claim that the protestors represent a consensus position, and pressure is effectively brought to bear on the prime minister.
Today, virtually all political analysts agree that Ariel Sharon expelled the Jews of Gaza from their homes in order to bribe the Israeli media to downplay his legal troubles. He adopted the policies of the left, and the media left him alone.
Netanyahu is not under investigation for wrongdoing, but he knows that the same dynamic applies to him: if he enacts the platform on which he was elected, he will continue to be attacked. If he turns his back on the voters, he will be left in peace. Hopefully, Netanyahu will make the right choice.
Last week, Arutz Sheva met Meir Indor at the tent city in Tel Aviv. He related what he heard from the protesters, and concluded that the protest is a radical leftist one. The video is below: