Israel Economic Protests: The Landlord Wannabe Protest

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: Gilad Atzmon, Salem-News.com, 8-7-11

Israel, that was supposed to be the state of the Jewish people, has become a haven for the richest and most corrupted Jews from around the world.

Israel Palestine History Taxes Employment

It is almost amusing to find out that some of the most clichéd Marxists around are so taken by the current Israeli popular protest, which they foolishly interpret as a manifestation of the ‘Israeli revolutionary spirit’. They are convinced that now that the Israeli ‘working class’ are rising, peace will necessarily prevail.

Yet in fact, what we are really seeing unfold in Israel (at least for the time being) is the total opposite of a ‘working class’ re-awakening. Indeed, some in Israel are calling it the ‘Real Estate Protest,’ because basically, those protesting want assets: they all wish to have property, a house of their own. They want to be landlords. They want the key, and they want it now. What we see in Tel Aviv has no similarity whatsoever to the struggles taking place in al-Tahrir or in Athens. At the most, the Israeli demonstrations mimic some manifestations of a struggle for justice or Socialist protest.

But that is where the similarities end.

Motti Ashkenazi (a legendary Israeli anti establishment figure) wrote in ynet yesterday that “another Left is needed (in Israel), a Left that is primarily concerned with the poor of its country rather than with the plight of our neighbours.” In clear terms that cannot be interpreted otherwise: Motti Ashkenazi is exploring what he considers to be a necessary shift in Israeli ‘progressive’ thought, and what he appears to conclude is, forget about Palestine; let’s once and for all concentrate on ‘us,’ the Jews. Ashkenazi continues, “we need another Left, a modest one. Instead of a vision for the entire Middle East, it had better present a vision of the State of Israel.”

Professor Nissim Calderon (a lecturer in Hebrew literature ) also presented a similar line: “We have erected a Left that has been focusing on the fight for peace, and peace only. But there is a huge hole in our struggle- we failed to struggle for social justice.” Again ‘Lefty’ Calderon refers to the social struggle within the Israeli Jewish population.

The mass protest in Israel is, in fact, the complete opposite of a genuine social revolution: whilst it may present itself as a popular protest, in practice, it is a ‘populist festival’. According to reports from Israel, the leaders of the emerging protest are even reluctant to call for Netanyahu’s resignation. The same applies to security matters, the occupation the defence budget- the organizers wouldn’t touch these subjects in order not to split their rapidly growing support.

What we see in Israel is neither a socialist revolution; nor is it a struggle for justice. It is actually a ‘bourgeoisie wannabe revolution’, and the Israelis took to the street because each of them wants to be a landlord, to own a property. They do not care much about politics, ethics, or social awareness, and neither do they seem to care much about the war crimes they are collectively complicit in. Malnutrition in Gaza is really not their concern either. They seem to not care about anything much at all, except themselves becoming property owners.

But why do they want to own a property? Because they cannot really rent one. And why can’t they rent? It is obviously far too expensive. But why is it too expensive? Because Israel is the ultimate embodiment of a corrupted, hard speculative, capitalist society. And I guess that this is the real untold story here. If Zionism was an attempt to solve ‘the Jewish Question’ , as the author Shahid Alam so insightfully explores, it has clearly failed since it has only managed to relocate ‘the Jewish Question’ to a new place, i.e. Palestine.

Zionism promised to bring about a new productive and ethical Jew as opposed to what it defined as the ‘Jewish Diaspora speculative capitalist’(1). It clearly failed, and the truth of the matter is, that in the Jewish State, Israeli Jews are now being subjected to the symptoms of their own very problematic culture.(2)

Israel, that was supposed to be the state of the Jewish people, has become a  haven  for  the richest  and most corrupted Jews from around the world: according to The Guardian, “out  of the seven oligarchs who controlled 50% of Russia’s economy during the 1990s, six were Jewish.”  During the last two decades, many Russian  oligarchs  have acquired  Israeli citizenship. They also secured their dirty money by investing in the Blue & White financial haven.  Wiki leaks has revealed lately that “sources in the (Israeli) police estimate that Russian organised crime (Russian Mafia) has laundered as much as US $10 billion through Israeli holdings.” (3) Mega-swindlers such as Bernie Madoff  have been channeling their money via Zionists and Israeli institutions for decades. Israel is also a leading trader in blood  diamonds. Far from being surprising, Israel is also the fourth biggest weapon dealer on the planet. Clearly, blood diamonds and guns are proving to be a great match. And it doesn’t stop there — every so often, Israel is caught engaging in organ trafficking and organ harvesting.

Increasingly, Israel seems to be nothing more than a vast  money-laundering  haven for Jewish oligarchs, swindlers, weapons dealers, organ traffickers, organised crime, and blood-diamond traders. But on top of that, rich Jews buy their holiday homes in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: there are reports that in Tel Aviv alone, thousands of holiday properties are empty, all year round, while native Israelis cannot find a roof.

The Israeli people are yet to understand their role within this horror show: the Israeli people are yet to grasp that they are nothing but the foot soldiers in this increasingly horrendous scenario. They do not even gather that their state maintains one of the world’s strongest armies, to defend the assets of just a few of the wealthiest and most immoral Jews around.

I actually wonder whether Israelis can grasp it all. Yet the truth of the matter is, that the leaders of the present Israeli ‘real estate revolution’ want to maintain the struggle as a material seeking adventure, and they are clearly avoiding politics: the driving sentiment and motivation here is, obviously, ‘give us the keys to our new homes and we clear the square.’

I guess that it is not surprising that within such an inherently greedy and racially oriented society, the dissent that manifests will inevitably, also be reduced to sheer banal materialism.

It seems the Israelis cannot rescue themselves from their own doomed fate, , because they are blindly hijacked by their own destructive culture. As myself and a few others have been predicting for a decade or more, Israeli society is about to implode. It is really just a question of time.

Gilad Atzmon’s latest book is The Wandering Who.

1. Marxist Zionist Ber Borochov (1881-1917) argued that the class structure of European Jewry resembled an inverted ‘class-pyramid’, a structure in which a relatively small number of Jews occupied roles within the ‘productive layers’ of society as workers, whilst a significant number were settled in capitalist and speculative trades such as banking.

2. In Haaretz today Beni Ziper wrote, “I saw on television people shouting against the rich, or tycoons who control the country. Seemingly everyone thinks it’s exciting and daring and nobody reflects on  the chilling historical  equivalence with the Depression in Germany at the time of  Weimar Republic, when the ‘rich Jews who control us’ were targeted by everyone.”  Ziper is clever enough to notice a close and disturbing repetition in Jewish history. However, Ziper is also very critical of his countrymen.  “So I’m all for protests against the state, but in no way against people or groups of people, be they ‘rich’ or ‘ (Jewish) Orthodox’ or even ‘settlers’.  Whoever gives privileges to the settlers in this country and it’s not that the settlers come and rob the cashier at gunpoint.” Whether we agree with Ziper or not, it is clear that he also admits that there is a similarity between the arguments voiced in Israel against the rich, and the German right wing’s anti Semitic attitude towards Jews in the 1920’s-30’s

3. For more information about global organised crime connections with Likud or other major Israeli political parties, follow this link http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/topic.php?tid=147

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Israel Political Brief August 7, 2011: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange plunges on U.S. credit downgrade

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: JTA, 8-7-11

The Tel Aviv Stock Market experienced its largest one-day loss in nearly three years in reaction to the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

The exchange’s TA-25 benchmark index of 25 stocks fell 7 percent on Sunday to 1,074.27 — the biggest drop since November 2008 at the beginning of the global economic crisis — despite a delayed opening by nearly an hour to allow traders to react to the news on the U.S. downgrade without pressure.

Standard & Poor’s on Aug. 5 downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA, the top designation it had held since 1941, to AA+.  The downgrade is likely to result in steeper interest costs on U.S. government bonds, eventually leading to less disposable income.

Analysts reportedly believe that Saturday night’s massive protests throughout Israel against the high cost of living also contributed to the plunge, Haaretz reported.

Since the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange operates Sunday through Thursday, it was one of the first stock exchanges worldwide to react to the U.S. credit rating downgrade.

Israel Political Brief August 7, 2011: Jewish groups file Jerusalem brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Zivotofsky v. Clinton

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: JTA, 8-7-11

American Jewish groups asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Jerusalem-born American citizens to have their birthplace listed as Israel on their birth certificates and passports.

Eleven major groups in a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Zivotofsky v. Clinton asked the high court to order the U.S. State Department to comply with a 2002 law that directs the secretary of state, “upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, [to] record the place of birth as Israel.”

The State Department manual currently allows that the passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem must say “Jerusalem” as the place of birth, reflecting official U.S. government policy regarding the unresolved status of Jerusalem, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which filed the brief.

The case involves 9-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky, whose American-Israeli parents Ari and Naomi want his birth country listed as Israel on his passport.

Other organizations signing the brief are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Council of Young Israel, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.

The names of Americans born in Jerusalem are still being collected on the website of the ad hoc Association of Proud American Citizens Born in Jerusalem, Israel, which was established to raise awareness of the issue and legal challenge. More than 120 American citizens have registered so far.

“Americans born in Jerusalem should have the same right to indicate their country of birth on their passport that is currently available to other American citizens born abroad, and that is what Congress has mandated,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. “The purpose of a passport is for identification, and it is indisputable that Jerusalem is in Israel. The Supreme Court should insist that the State Department follow the law.”

Gilad Shalit billboard going up in L.A.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: JTA, 8-7-11

A massive billboard calling attention to the plight of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is going up in Los Angeles.

The billboard, which is expected to go up Monday on La Cienega Boulevard, will feature a large photograph of Shalit and read, “I was kidnapped by Hamas on June 25, 2006. I have been held hostage. … This summer I will turn 25 years old. Where did you spend your birthday this year? Free Gilad Shalit.”

Gal Sitty, a 28-year-old Los Angeles resident, raised $7,000 to erect the billboard. He helped lead an effort that put up a similar billboard in New York earlier this summer.

Sitty became interested in Shalit’s plight after chaperoning a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip and witnessing a rally for the soldier’s release.

According to the company that owns the billboard, about 200,000 people see the La Cienega Boulevard site each week. The billboard is scheduled to remain up until the first week of September.

Shalit has been held in Gaza since his capture in a cross-border raid.

Israel Economic Protests: Israel Protests Press PM Netanyahu

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: JOSHUA MITNICK, WSJ, 8-7-11

Massive demonstrations across Israel against the high cost of living point to a revival in the fortunes of the country’s long-dormant left-wing movement, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to focus on economic policy at a time when he enjoys broad support for his handling of policy toward the Palestinians.

In a break with an older generation of Israeli leftists, demonstrators initially dismissed as spoiled youths in Tel Aviv have reached across the country’s left-right divide by focusing exclusively on pocketbook issues rather than contested Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Although Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition doesn’t appear in danger in the short term, it could become vulnerable if the economy plays a role in the next election.

Acknowledging the protests reflect “genuine distress,” Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday appointed a committee of cabinet ministers and economic experts to formulate proposals for overhauls. He cautioned, however, that “we won’t satisfy everyone.”

On Saturday night, more than 250,000 protesters across Israel demonstrated while waving red flags symbolizing old-time socialist political movements, and chanting for “social justice” and a “welfare state.” Over the past three weeks, a small tent city in central Tel Aviv protesting runaway rents has snowballed into Israel’s largest demonstrations in recent memory, despite Mr. Netanyahu’s efforts to demonstrate attentiveness amid the criticism. Real-estate values have gone up more than a third nationwide over the past four years….READ MORE

Israel Economic Protests: Government Panel set up to review demands following mass Israeli protest

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: JTA, 8-7-11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established a committee to examine the demands of leaders of the social justice protest movement following one of the largest demonstrations in Israel’s history.

Netanyahu at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday morning announced the formation of a 15-member panel to review the demands, and to submit proposals in the next month for social and economic reform.

The previous night, an estimated 300,000 demonstrators protesting the rising costs of living had gathered in Tel Aviv, with another 20,000 protesting in Jerusalem and several thousands more in cities throughout the country.

It was the third such demonstration — and the largest —  since the protests began more than three weeks ago. Protesters chanted, among other slogans, “The people demand social justice” and “An entire generation demands a future.”

Protest leaders have already decried the committee, saying that they are looking for direct dialogue with Netanyahu. The committee will be headed by Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, chairman of the National Economic Council, and made up of Cabinet ministers, observers and economic experts.

Announcing the formation of the committee, Netanyahu said, “We are aware of the fact that working couples with children are finding it difficult to finish the month. We recognize the plight of students who cannot pay their rent. We are aware of the distress of the residents of neighborhoods, of discharged soldiers and others. We want to provide genuine solutions.

The Israeli leader acknowledged that the committee’s proposals will not please everybody, but he pledged that “We will listen to everyone. We will speak with everyone. We will hold a genuine dialogue, not pressured and perfunctory, but we will really listen both to the distress and to the proposals for solutions. In the end we will consider practical solutions. Practical solutions require choices. They also require balance.”

On Saturday night, Israeli musicians Shlomo Artzi, Rita and Yehudit Ravitz entertained the demonstrators, who also heard speeches from Daphne Leef, founder of the movement, and Rabbi Benny Lau, founder of the Beit Morasha social justice institute.

“If I could, I would show you how people have demanded social justice since the origin of Judaism,” Lau told the crowd.

Israel Economic Protests: Full Text PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting about Housing Protests

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: PMO, 8-7-11

“In recent weeks we have witnessed public protests that are giving expression to genuine distress.  The distress is focused on the cost of living and the cost of housing but it has many other aspects.  I understand this distress; I am attentive to it, as is the Cabinet.  We started to deal with several of the problems when the Government was formed; for example, housing reform, the plan that saved higher education and a plan – for roads and railways – that is now bringing the periphery closer to the center.

However, there are additional areas that need to be dealt with.  It is impossible to ignore the voices coming from the public and there is no reason for doing so.  We want to give genuine solutions.  We will give them.  I would like to give these solutions, in a thorough – not cosmetic – way, i.e. a genuine change in the order of priorities, a change that will ease the economic burden on Israelis.

We are aware of the fact that working couples with children are finding it difficult to finish the month.  We recognize the plight of students who cannot pay their rent.  We are aware of the distress of the residents of neighborhoods, of discharged soldiers and others.  We want to provide genuine solutions.

Today, I am appointing a professional committee chaired by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg.  The Trajtenberg Committee will be comprised of professionals from within and outside the government.  Prof. Trajtenberg will need a day or two to complete the list of outside experts.  This Committee will hold a broad dialogue with different groups and sectors within the public.  The committee will listen to the distress and to proposals, and will make recommendations that will be submitted to the Social and Economic Cabinet chaired by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

After the Social and Economic Cabinet hears these proposals, final recommendations will be formulated and submitted to me.  I intend to submit the plan to the whole Cabinet.  I want full Cabinet backing for the major change that we are about to bring to the Israeli economy.

I would like to say a few words why I chose Prof. Trajtenberg to chair the Committee.  Manuel is a rare combination of an economist and a man with social sensitivity.  Until recently, he chaired the National Economic Council.  Afterwards, he took it upon himself to save higher education, which had been in deep crisis for a decade, and did so in exemplary fashion.  Indeed, there is a change and everyone can see it.  Much of this is due to you, Manuel.  You outlined a vision and brought the solution.  Manuel is familiar with the Government as well as the public.  He also believes in the idea of the roundtable, or, I should say, round tables, since I will need to open many round tables in order to listen to many people, within a short time.

My request is that the recommendations of the professional committee that you will chair be brought to Social and Economic Cabinet and afterwards to the entire Cabinet within the next month.  This is not a lot of time.  The workload will be heavy but I know that it will be done with great effort, in order to really bring about change.

This change must be focused on several areas that I will define to the Committee.  First, proposals to change the list of priorities in order to ease the economic burden on Israelis.  Second, change the combination of tax payments.  Third, expanding access to social services.  Fourth, increasing competition and efficiency in the markets for goods and services in order to reduce prices.  Five, steps to implement the housing plan that we have already launched.  I add that the team’s recommendations will give expression to the need to maintain fiscal responsibility in the state budget.  Responsibility is especially necessary in a period of economic uncertainty.

We are in a period of economic uncertainty.  Yesterday, something happened which had not occurred in the previous 70 years, since countries began to receive credit ratings.  The credit rating of the US, the greatest economic power in the world, was lowered by Standard and Poor’s.  This event joins with the crisis that is spreading to the major economies of Europe.  It is possible that 120-130 million Europeans live in countries that are on the verge of bankruptcy and mass unemployment.

Therefore, we must act with economic responsibility here while making the corrections that express social sensitivity.  We must act in two spheres simultaneously.  It is very difficult to build an economy.  I have dealt with this, along with many of you.  We dealt with building the Israeli economy.  Twice, we led it from severe crises, in 2003 and in 2008.  We did so successfully.  We built the economy.  The economy is strong and it withstood these crises as it will yet withstand others that await us.

However, we know that we must make the internal corrections.  As we succeeded in crossing stormy economic waters, we will also make the social corrections, with sensitivity, and with responsibility.  I am convinced that we will succeed.

A last remark.  We will be unable to please everybody.  One cannot please everybody.  It is impossible to take the sum total of the demands regarding all the distress and say, and boast, that we can meet them all.  We will listen to everyone.  We will speak with everyone.  We will hold a genuine dialogue, not pressured and perfunctory, but we will really listen both to the distress and to the proposals for solutions.  In the end, we will consider practical solutions.  Practical solutions require choices.  They also require balance.

I think that the Cabinet can unite behind the professional team that we are bringing here.  I would like to very much thank Manuel, that you agreed to take upon yourself this difficult task.  I know that you held intense discussions and were not without hesitation.  We know that there are things which are not yet clear; we will need to clarify them.  I am certain of one thing.  I am certain that I chose the best person in the State of Israel to take up this difficult mission.”

Professor Trajtenberg: “In recent weeks, we have witnessed a very strong, very impressive and unconventional process that has taken place in Israeli society and among the Israeli public.  What clearly arises from it is that on the one hand, there is the expression of frustration, pain and disappointment that a reasonable economic existence seems distant, even uncertain, for young working families.  On the other hand, there is, within this process, the expression of a very tangible yearning, hope and longing for social justice.

Pain on the one hand and longing on the other signify a great potential for a change for the better within Israeli society.  To a large extent, this depends on the ability to translate these genuine feelings from the language of protest into a language of deeper professional understanding and eventually into the language of action, policy and implementation.  The translator’s task is not easy.  The dictionaries of the past will not help.  They failed.  We must find, we must perhaps invent the Rosetta Stone that will allow us to do the work.

Mr. Prime Minister, I decided to accept this task and this is a tribute to your powers of persuasion and your Finance Minister’s entreaties.  But I admit that I do so with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I do so with great excitement because we have before us a rare opportunity to bring about genuine change in our dear country.  On the other hand, I do so with a deep awareness of the great responsibility that this task entails, given the expectations and the risks.

Mr. Prime Minister, I thank you very much for the confidence that you have vested in me.  You may be certain that beyond the mix of excitement and unease that I feel at the moment, my commitment, and that of the team that will be set up, is full and without hesitation.  We have no alternative but success, success – first of all – in listening and in outlining a wise and very responsible policy given the reality around us.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Thank you very much.  On behalf of the entire Cabinet as well as – I think – the Israeli people, thank you.”

Israel Economic Protests: 320,000 Protesters Take to Tel Aviv Streets

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-7-11

An estimated 320,000 Israeli protesters took the streets on Saturday night to protest the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing, more than double the number that had turned out the previous Saturday night.

The demonstrators were specifically protesting the enactment of the israel protestsNational Housing Committee Law, which they do not see as a solution to the housing situation.

In the largest show of force, 280,000 Israelis marched from Habimah Square to the government office complex in Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, while 30,000 demonstrated in Jerusalem, and there were smaller demonstrations in other cities across the country.

Protesters chanted “The people demand social justice” as they marched through the streets of Tel Aviv.

In response to the demonstrations, Minister of Transport Israel Katz said, “The message has been heard. The prime minister will announce the setting up of a team of ministers to negotiate with the leaders of the protesters and by September we will form a new economic plan. We will change our order of priorities. Government cuts are not on the agenda and it will be possible to divert some budgets and lower some of the indirect taxes.”

One of the protest leaders Stav Sapir said, “I don’t think it is possible to stop this huge protest. The people are out on the streets. I pray that this thing succeeds. For a long time this has not been the protest of just the middle class – this is a protest of the entire people that simply cannot make ends meet.”

One protester carrying his son on his shoulders told “Globes,” “I’m here for my son. It is not right that a father cannot help his son but that is the situation in our country.”

Student Union leader Itzik Shmuli received a massive response when he demanded the release of Gilad Shalit. Singer Shlomo Artzi had the crowd rocking with the chorus of his song that “Yesterday was great and tomorrow will be too.” Artzi also led the chants of “The people demand social justice.”

Israel Brief: Alan Dershowitz strikes back: ‘J Street has harmed Israel’

ISRAEL BRIEF

“It’s a myth that criticism of Israel is silenced. I have spoken at AIPAC many times, criticizing Israeli policy,” lawyer says in response to Ben-Ami.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 8-6-11
Prominent Israel advocate Prof. Alan Dershowitz hit back at a book by the founder of J Street charging that he and others have silenced criticism of the Jewish state, in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Alan Dershowitz speaks to the 'Post.'

Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski

J Street President Jeremy Ben- Ami’s recently released book, A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation, singles out Dershowitz, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and other members of the US Jewish establishment.

“It’s a myth that criticism of Israel is silenced,” Dershowitz said in a phone interview with the Post on Thursday. I have spoken at AIPAC many times and have criticized Israeli policy. AIPAC has never silenced me, because AIPAC knows I’m pro-Israel.”

In the book, Ben-Ami argues that the major Jewish organizations and pro-Israel advocates in America have “created a situation where one can’t question or criticize Israeli policy or actions without being branded an outcast.”

Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor, vehemently expressed disagreement with that assertion.

“Ben-Ami was in diapers when I opposed the occupation and was in favor of the two-state solution,” Dershowitz said on Thursday.

“See, I’m [J Street’s] worst nightmare. I oppose the occupation. But I’m really pro-Israel, unlike them.”

Dershowitz also argued that J Street’s actions have had a deleterious effect on the next generation’s ability to effectively advocate for Israel.

“I think J Street has done more damage to Israel than any [other] American organization,” he said.

“It has made a generation of Jews ashamed to be pro-Israel, and has made it politically correct among young people to single out Israel to a double standard and for fault.”…READ MORE

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