Israel Political Brief May 13, 2013: Israel’s Austerity Budget Draws Citizen Protests

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Israel’s Austerity Budget Draws Citizen Protests

Source: New York Times, 5-13-13

The Israeli government was debating the final points of a two-year austerity budget early Tuesday that would cut spending and raise taxes, outraging many Israelis who voted in a new government this year after promises of economic relief….READ MORE

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Israel Political Brief March 31, 2013: Israeli boy, soldiers injured during Land Day protests

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Israeli boy, soldiers injured during Land Day protests

Source: JTA, 3-31-13

An Israeli boy and several Israeli soldiers were injured during Israeli-Arab and Palestinian protests marking Land Day….READ MORE

Israel Brief February 22, 2013: Riots break out in Jerusalem & West Bank over Palestinian prisoners

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Riots break out in Jerusalem, West Bank over Palestinian prisoners

Source: JTA, 2-22-13

Palestinian protesters reportedly fired flares and hurled stones at Israeli troops in the Old City in Jerusalem amid violent protests in the West Bank….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News November 19, 2012: Supporters of Israel, Palestinians clash in LA protests

ISRAEL ADVOCACY 101

ISRAEL ADVOCACY NEWS

Supporters of Israel, Palestinians clash in LA protests

Source: LAT, 11-19-12

Supporters of Israel and the Palestinians clashed during a rally Sunday outside the Federal Building in Westwood. No arrests were made, but one person suffered a broken arm and Wilshire Boulevard was closed for a time, officials said….READ MORE

Israel Brief September 23, 2012: Israel moves to Standard Time amid demonstrations

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Israel moves to Standard Time amid demonstrations

Source: JTA, 9-23-12

Israel moved back to Standard Time, bringing out demonstrators in protest of the early switch due to Yom Kippur….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 24, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Assures Israel will Solve African Migrant Problem — Deportations to Begin ‘Soon’ After Tel Aviv Rally Takes Violent Turn

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Israel will solve African migrant problem, Netanyahu assures

Source: JTA, 5-24-12

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried violence against African migrants following a night of violent protest.”There is no place for either the expressions or the actions that we witnessed last night,” Netanyahu said Thursday, a day after a demonstration in south Tel Aviv against illegal African migrants turned violent. “I say this to the public at large as well as to the residents of south Tel Aviv, whose pain I understand.”

Netanyahu said the problem of the infiltrators would be solved.

“We will complete construction of the fence within a few months and we will soon begin repatriating infiltrators back to their countries of origin,” he said.

Wednesday night’s violent protest in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah neighborhood, involving about 1,000 protesters, ended with 17 arrests.

Protesters attacked African migrants who passed the demonstration, and smashed the windshield of a car carrying three migrants as well as other car windows. They also set trash bins on fire and threw firecrackers at police, Ynet reported. The rioters also broke into and looted shops associated with the African migrant community….READ MORE

Netanyahu: Deportations to Begin ‘Soon’

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said his government will begin enforcing Israel’s immigration laws soon; calls for calm in Tel Aviv

Binyamin Netanyahu

Binyamin Netanyahu
Reuters

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday vowed to begin enforcing Israel’s immigration laws and deporting illegal aliens “soon.”

“The problem of the illegal aliens must be solved and we will solve it,” Netanyahu said. “We will complete construction of the fence within a few months and we will soon begin repatriating illegal aliens back to their countries of origin..”

“However,” Netanyahu said in reference to violence that erupted following a rally in south Tel Aviv demanding deportations begin. “I would like to make it clear that there is no place for either the expressions or the actions that we witnessed last night.”

“I say this to the public and the residents of Tel Aviv,” he added. “We will solve the problem and we will do so responsibly.”

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people calling for immigration laws to be enforced demonstrated at the corner of Irgun and Haganah in the southern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Hatikva.

During the rally, MK Danny Danon – who chairs the Knesset committee tasked with preventing illegal immigration to Israel – declared to demonstrators, “The state of Israel is at war with an enemy state that has formed within Israel and has its capital in southern Tel Aviv!”

After the rally some protesters smashed windows, lit garbage cans on fire, and damaged a car that had three illegal aliens in it. No one was hurt in the incident. On Thursday police arrested 12 people on suspicion of attacking the vehicle, and running riot.

Witnesses say vast majority of those who attended the rally both arrived and departed peacefully, despite the deep frustration felt by local residents.

Late last year, Netanyahu – who has described the deluge of illegal aliens in Israel a “national catastrophe” and “demographic threat” – said he would travel to Africa to meet with leaders and arrange for the safe return of their nationals currently in Israel.

Israel, a small nation of some 8 million people – of whom 75% are Jewish – does not have the capacity to absorb large numbers of non-Jewish immigrants or refugees while at the same time ensuring the Jewish character of the state.

Israel’s left has derided attempts to deport illegal aliens as ‘racism’ and ‘incitement,’ and argued that returning African refugees to their countries – especially Sudanese nationals – would endanger their lives.

However, discussions between the Foreign Ministry and the Attorney General this week concluded that in most cases illegal aliens from Africa can be safely returned to their countries of origin….READ MORE

Israel Brief October 3, 2011: Last Tel Aviv’s social justice protests tent cities evacuated

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Tel Aviv tent cities evacuated

Source: JTA, 10-3-11

The tent cities remaining in Tel Aviv from this summer’s social justice protests were evacuated.

Police and Tel Aviv city inspectors evacuated at least three tent city sites on Monday, as well as empty tents on the main Rothschild Boulevard site. A court injunction prevented a full evacuation of that site.

Those who were evicted from the sites are mostly homeless, according to reports. City social workers have spent several days trying to find places for the homeless tent city dwellers, according to the municipality.

The municipality said it would establish “dialogue centers” on the sites.

Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: US.Consulate in Jerusalem warns travelers of violence in Old City on Friday

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U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem warns travelers of violence

Source: JTA, 9-22-11

The U.S. Consulate has banned its personnel from visiting the Old City of Jerusalem due to fears of violence.

In an emergency message sent to Americans registered with the consulate who are visiting or living in Israel, the consulate also urged U.S. citizens to avoid “areas of traditional conflict during this time.”

The letter, dated Sept. 21, said that the consulate would prohibit its official mission personnel from visiting the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday.

“This prohibition is due to the potential for demonstrations and large gatherings inside the Old City that day,” the letter says.

While it does not specify why there is this potential, it is likely because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on that day is due to speak before the United Nations General Assembly and present a request to make Palestine the 194th member of the United Nations to the U.N. Security Council.

“The U.S. Consulate General reminds U.S. citizens that even peaceful marches and demonstrations can turn violent with little or no warning,” the letter warns.

“U.S. citizens in Jerusalem are encouraged to exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security, and to report any suspicious or unusual activity immediately to Israeli authorities. U.S. citizens should, as always, maintain a low profile in public.”

Israel Brief September 21, 2011: Hundreds gather for pro-Israel rally at U.N.

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Hundreds gather for pro-Israel rally at U.N.

Source: JTA, 9-21-11

Several hundred supporters of Israel gathered near the United Nations to protest the Durban III meeting and oppose the Palestinian statehood bid.

Wednesday’s rally was organized by the pro-Israel Christian group Eagles’ Wings.

Many leading Jewish groups have decided not to mount demonstrations in response to the Palestinian statehood bid or to what they see as the U.N.’s increasingly irrelevant Durban III meeting.

Some Jewish groups dropped out of Wednesday’s rally due to the involvement of the Jerusalem Institute for Justice, an organization led by messianic Jews.

Roz Rothstein, the CEO of StandWithUs, one of the few Jewish groups to co-sponsor the rally, said that Durban III was worth protesting.

“Even if its one day long, even if it is one paragraph long. We’ll fight them,” Rothstein told the JTA.

Some of the rally’s speakers criticized President Obama’s policies.

“Obama built up the reputation of Mahmoud Abbas, and as a result the Palestinian Authority now believes it no longer needs to negotiate with Israel,” said the deputy speaker of Israel’s Knesset, Danny Danon.

The remaining speakers were mostly Christian, although Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue also spoke.

Many of the rally attendees were evangelical Christians and messianic Jews.

Amy Liantonio, 25, a messianic Jew who came from Philadelphia for the rally, said she was disappointed that there was not more Jewish support for the event.

“I wish they were here,” she said.

Full Text September 10, 2011: PM Netanyahu’s Statement on Emergency Evacuation of Israeli Embassy in Cairo, Egypt

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Statement by PM Netanyahu Following the Events in Cairo

Source: Prime Minister’s Office, 9-10-11

Good week.

Early this morning, at about 5:00  a.m., a complex rescue operation was safely completed to free the staff  of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.  From inside the Situation Room at the Foreign Ministry, I worked alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defense, the Head of the Shabak, the Head of the Mossad, the IDF Chief of Staff and all of their staffs.  One overriding mission laid before us – to secure the welfare and safety of Israel’s emmisaries.  We worked together in a responsible manner to ensure that this situation would end in the best possible manner.

Immediately at the beginning of the incident, I ordered that all the Embassy staff and their families in Cairo be put on a plane and returned to Israel.  At the same time we worked together with Egypt and the American government to assure that our remaining staff at the Embassy would be rescued without harm.

I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama.    I asked for his help.  This was a decisive and fateful moment.  He said, “I will do everything I can.”  And so he did.  He used every considerable means and influence of the United States to help us.  We owe him a special measure of gratitude.  This attests to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States.  This alliance between Israel and the United States is especially important in these times of political storms and upheavals in the Middle East.

I wish to cite also the intervention of the Egyptian Commandos which prevented a tragedy.  We maintained direct channels of communication throughout the night with the Egyptian government.  It was clear to all that the defense of an Embassy, and particularly the Israeli Embassy, is the obligation of any sovereign state.

I therefore also appreciate the words of the Egyptian Information Minister who condemned the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.  Many world leaders and Arab leaders joined him in this sentiment.  I attach great importance to this.

Israel will continue to adhere to the peace treaty with Egypt.  We are working together with the Egyptian government to quickly return our Ambassador to Cairo.  I wish to make sure that the necessary security arrangements for him and for our entire staff will be effective and will assure their necessary safety.   At the same time, our diplomatic delegate in Cairo will continue to represent Israel until the Ambassador’s return.

During this long night, we were required to make many difficult decisions.  I would like to share with you one conversation from this night.  On the line was Yonatan, the security officer of the Embassy.  He and his men, six in number, were trapped in the Embassy building.  The mob entered the building and entered the office.  Only one door separated between the mob and Yonatan and his friends.  He sounded perfectly calm to me, and on the other hand understood the situation in which he and his colleagues found themselves.

During the ongoing event, he requested from the security officer in the Foreign Ministry one thing:  If something happens to me, he said, my parents should be notified face to face, and not by telephone.   I got on the phone line and I said to him, “Yonatan, be strong.  I promise you that the State of Israel will do everything in its power and will use all possible resources in the world in order to rescue you and your friends unharmed and whole from this situation.”

And thank God this morning they all landed in Israel.  A short while ago I spoke with Yonatan and his mother.  They sounded wonderful.

I wish to say one more thing this evening to you, my fellow Israeli citizens:
The Middle East is now undergoing a political earthquake of historic proportions.  Perhaps this can be compared to what happened a century ago at the end of the First World War with the establishment of a new world order.  In the face of this historic turmoil we must act coolly and with responsibility.   We must understand that these events are occurring as a result of deep and strong political undercurrents.  We in Israel have a tendency to think that everything happens because of us or that we are somehow at fault for the turbulence in our area.  There are many external and strong forces at work here.  More than anything else, we must in these times act to safeguard our security.  This is the anchor of our existence, especially in these turbulent times.  We must work towards advancing our national interests in the area at the appropriate time.

We will continue to keep the peace with Egypt.  This is in the common interest of both countries.  We will work toward preventing a further deterioration in our relationship with Turkey.  We did not choose this sequence of events.  To the extent that the matter depends upon us, we shall act to lower tensions and do everything possible to restore relations.

We shall continue to work towards peace with the Palestinians.  To this end, we must return as quickly as possible to the path of direct peace negotiations.  Only in this manner will we be able to advance and achieve a peace agreement.  Regarding this negotiation, I believe that many people today in our nation and around the world who see what is happening in our area will understand our justified stance in defending our security interests in any future agreement.
I would like to thank again the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defense, the security forces and above all our brave young men who were trapped for many long hours in the embassy. We worked together as a cohesive team in order to prevent a tragedy for the State of Israel and to return our men home peacefully.

I wish a good week to all of the Nation of Israel.

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו בעקבות האירועים בקהירשבת י”א אלול תשע”א — 10/09/2011 –
צילום: לע”מ
לתמונה המוגדלת

-הטקסט עבר התאמת עריכה-

שבוע טוב,

לפנות בוקר, סמוך לשעה חמש, הסתיים בשלום מבצע החילוץ המורכב של אנשי שגרירות ישראל בקהיר. מתוך חדר המצב של משרד החוץ עבדתי יחד עם שר החוץ, שר הביטחון, ראש השב”כ, ראש המוסד, הרמטכ”ל ואנשיהם. לנגד עיננו עמדה משימה אחת – להבטיח את שלומם של שליחי מדינת ישראל. פעלנו יחד באחריות כדי שהאירוע הזה יסתיים על הצד הטוב ביותר.

מייד בתחילת האירועים הנחיתי להחזיר ארצה את כל אנשי הסגל והמשפחות שהיו בקהיר, להעלות אותם על מטוס ולהחזיר אותם לישראל. במקביל פעלנו מול מצרים ומול הממשל האמריקני כדי להבטיח שאנשינו בתוך השגרירות יחולצו ללא פגע.

אני מבקש להודות מכאן לנשיא ארצות-הברית, ברק אובמה. אני ביקשתי ממנו לסייע. זה היה רגע מכריע, אפילו גורלי. הוא אמר “אני אעשה כל מה שאני יכול”. הוא עשה זאת. הוא הפעיל את כל האמצעים וההשפעה, שהם בוודאי כבדי משקל, של ארצות הברית של אמריקה. אנחנו חווים לו תודה מיוחדת. הדבר מעיד על הברית האמיצה בין ישראל לארה”ב. הברית הזו חיונית בייחוד בימים אלה של טלטלות וסופות מדיניות במזרח התיכון.

אני מבקש לציין את התערבות הקומנדו המצרי שמנעה אסון. קיימנו כל הלילה ערוץ קשר ישיר מול הממשל המצרי. לכולם היה ברור שההגנה על שגרירות בכלל, וההגנה על שגרירות ישראל בפרט היא חלק בלתי נפרד מתפקידה של מדינה ריבונית.

לכן אני מעריך את אמירתו של שר ההסברה המצרי שגינה את התקפת שגרירות ישראל בקהיר. הצטרפו אליו מנהיגים נוספים בעולם וגם בעולם הערבי. אני חושב שיש חשיבות לכך

ישראל תמשיך לדבוק בהסכם השלום עם מצרים. אנו פועלים יחד עם הממשלה המצרית כדי להחזיר את שגרירנו לקהיר במהרה. אני מבקש לוודא שסידורי הביטחון הדרושים לו ולאנשי הסגל שלנו יהיו איתנים ושיקנו את הביטחון הדרוש להם. במקביל ימשיך הציר המדיני שלנו בקהיר לייצג את ישראל עד שובו של השגריר.בלילה הארוך הזה היינו צריכים לקבל הרבה החלטות קשות. אני רוצה לשתף אתכם בשיחה אחת בלילה הזה:
על קו הטלפון היה יונתן, קצין הביטחון של השגרירות. הוא ואנשיו, שישה במספר, היו נצורים במבנה השגרירות. הפורעים חדרו למבנה, חדרו למשרד. דלת אחת הפרידה בינם ובין יונתן וחבריו. הוא נשמע לי קר רוח, שקול, ולצד זה הוא הבין היטב את המצב שבו הוא וחבריו מצויים.

במהלך האירוע הוא ביקש מאיש הביטחון במשרד החוץ את הדבר הבא:
אם יקרה לי משהו, הוא אמר, תודיעו את הדבר להורים שלי פנים מול פנים ולא בטלפון.

עליתי על הקו ואמרתי לו: יונתן, תחזיק מעמד. אני מבטיח לך שמדינת ישראל תעשה כל מה שביכולתה ותפעיל את כל הכוחות האפשריים בעולם כדי לחלץ משם אותך ואת חבריך בריאים ושלמים.

ברוך השם הבוקר הם נחתו בישראל. לפני זמן קצר שוחחתי עם יונתן ואמו. הם נשמעים  מצוין.

אני מבקש לומר דבר נוסף בערב הזה לכם,  אזרחי ישראל:

המזרח התיכון עובר עכשיו רעידת אדמה בקנה מידה היסטורי. אולי אפשר להשוות זאת למה שקרה כאן לפני כמעט מאה שנה, בסוף מלחמת העולם הראשונה בכינון הסדר החדש. מול הטלטלות ההיסטוריות הללו, אנו צריכים לפעול בקור רוח, בשיקול דעת באחריות, אנחנו צריכים להבין שהדברים שמתרחשים כאן מתרחשים בגלל זרמים תת קרקעיים אדירים. קיימת נטייה אצלנו לחשוב שהכל מתבצע בגללנו, באשמתנו. יש פה כוחות הרבה יותר חזקים. יותר מכל, בזמנים האלה אנחנו צריכים לשמור על הביטחון. זהו עוגן הקיום שלנו, ובמיוחד בזמן הפכפך. אנחנו צריכים לקדם את האינטרסים הלאומיים שלנו באזור בזמן הנתון.

נמשיך לשמור על השלום עם מצרים. זהו אינטרס של שתי המדינות. ננסה למנוע הידרדרות נוספת ביחסינו עם טורקיה. לא בחרנו במסלול הזה. במידה שהדבר תלוי בנו, נפעל להוריד את הלהבות, ואם הדבר ניתן גם לשקם את היחסים.

נמשיך לחתור לשלום עם הפלסטינאים. לצורך כך יש לחזור מהר ככל שניתן לנתיב של מו”מ לשלום, מו”מ ישיר. רק באמצעותו ניתן לקדם את השלום, ורק באמצעותו ניתן להשיג את השלום. וביחס למשא ומתן זה אני מאמין שרבים היום בארץ ובעולם, כשרואים את המתרחש  באזור, מבינים הרבה יותר טוב את העמידה המוצדקת שלנו להגן על צרכי הביטחון של ישראל בכל הסדר עתידי.

אני מבקש להודות שוב לשר החוץ, לשר הביטחון, לאנשי זרועות הביטחון של מדינת ישראל, ומעל לכל לבחורים האמיצים שלנו שהיו נצורים שעות ארוכות בשגרירות.
פעלנו יחד כצוות מלוכד, פעלנו יחד כדי למנוע אסון למדינת ישראל, והצלחנו להשיב את אנשינו הביתה בשלום.

שבוע טוב לכל עם ישראל

Israel Political Brief September 5, 2011: 405,000 Social Protesters Hit Israel’s Streets for March of the Million

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405,000 Social Protesters Hit the Streets

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-5-11

Israel’s middle class staged a massive show of strength last night when 405,000 protesters rallied in city streets throughout the country. There were an estimated 292,000 protesters at the largest rally in Tel Aviv, according to figures provided by Trendit to Channel 2 News. The demonstrators marched from Habimah Square at the northern end of Rothschild Boulevard to Kikar Hamedinah, where a major rally was held to protest the high cost of living and demand affordable housing and social justice.

At the same time, there were large rallies in Israel’s other major cities. 50,000 demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem, and 35,000 in Haifa as well as protests in Kiryat Shmona, Carmiel, Nahariya, Afula, Ness Ziona, Arad and other towns. There were no protests in Beersheva and Ashkelon because of security concerns. This was the eighth consecutive Saturday night of major social protests, and the largest so far.

According to figures provided by Trendit, 62% of the demonstrators in Tel Aviv were from the bottom 40% of the population in terms of israel protestsincome, while 18% of the protesters were from the top 10% of income earners.

Protest leader Dafni Leef said, “The struggle has not yet fulfilled its aims but rather has moved up into a new phase. I’m as poor as ever but as happy as I have ever been.”

At the end of the protest she said, “The summer of 2011 is the summer of hope. This hope was borne from the social gaps that have become impossible to bridge. Israeli society which has come here this evening, as well as those who stayed home have reached a red line and has said enough, no more. You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of them all of the time. This summer we woke up and opened our eyes.

Protest leader Stav Sapir said, “This struggle will go on beyond the summer. We will continue to struggle while the government ignores us. The government is playing for time and waiting for the protests to tire, and is expecting that the events in September will cause the protest to fade. But we haven’t yet brought to bear all the pressure on the government that we can. We have creative ways to continue to protest such as these Saturdays.”

Published by Globes, Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com

Israel Political Brief August 28, 2011: Social protesters march for sixth consecutive week in Israel over economic equality

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Social protest demonstrators march for sixth consecutive week

Source: JTA, 8-28-11

Some 20,000 demonstrators protested across Israel calling for social and economic equality.

The protests Saturday night marked the sixth consecutive weekend that Israelis have marched in social protests.

Some 10,000 gathered in Tel Aviv, joined by Noam Shalit, father of captured soldier Gilad Shalit, who said that social justice means bringing all Israeli soldiers home.

Jews and Arabs marched together in the Wadi Ara area of northern Israel, demanding not only social justice, but also to not expand a planned development for haredim in the area.

On Aug. 26, the five-month doctors’ strike was resolved. “This agreement is an additional step in a series of socio-economic steps that this Government has taken in various fields in order to improve Israeli society and reduce gaps,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.

“We are not neglecting – neither as a result of our security responsibility nor of our economic responsibility – anything regarding our responsibility to implement social reform in the State of Israel.  We are doing this.  The Trajtenberg Committee is working with all due urgency.  It will submit its recommendations to us next month.  This is a very serious committee and we are talking about serious and responsible steps.  These will not be small steps, but major ones and will be submitted to the Socio-Economic Cabinet in the coming weeks.  Ours is a genuine commitment to social reform and the reform we are talking about is both genuine and serious,” Netanyahu said.

Israel Political Brief August 14, 2011: Tens of thousands protest in Israeli cities

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Source: JTA, 8-14-11

Tens of thousands of Israelis marched in social justice protests in Israeli cities such as Haifa and Beersheba, but not Tel Aviv.

Saturday night’s protests were the first time in the last month that major demonstrations were not held in Tel Aviv.

Major demonstrations took place in Haifa with about 30,000 protesters, Beersheba with about 20,000 protesters and Afula with 15,000 protesters. Smaller demonstrations took place in 18 other cities including Eilat, Rosh Pina, Nahariya, Dimona, Modi’in, Petach Tikvah, Ramat Hasharon, Hod Hasharon, Netanya and Beit She’an, according to reports.  About 70,000 demonstrators rallied in the protests.

Last week, some 300,000 protesters took to the streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to call for affordable housing and other demands for social justice.

Israel Economic Protests: New panel to address Israelis’ economic burden

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: JTA, 7-31-11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will form a ministerial committee to address the country’s economic challenges.

In the wake of massive protests across Israel, Netanyahu on Sunday said he would appoint a special team of ministers and experts to listen to representatives of the protesters and to submit a plan “to alleviate Israelis’ economic burden.”

“We are all aware of the genuine hardship of the cost of living in Israel,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting. “This affects many areas.  Some of the claims that are being heard are justified and some are not. Indeed, we must deal with the genuine distress, seriously and responsibly. This, without a doubt, compels us to change our list of priorities.”

The prime minister also said that “We must avoid irresponsible, hasty and populist steps that are liable to cause the country to deteriorate into the situation of certain European countries, which are on the verge of bankruptcy and large-scale unemployment.”

The announcement came hours after the resignation of the Finance Ministry’s director general, Haim Shani, who cited a “fundamental difference of opinion” with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. It is rumored that Steinitz could lose his job over the protests that are sweeping the country.

On Saturday night, more than 100,000 Israelis protested against the high cost of living in cities across Israel, with the largest demonstrations in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheba and Haifa. It was the largest turnout for the populist protests since they began about two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, activists reportedly are planning a general strike for Monday.

Israel Political Brief August 8, 2011: Knesset to meet during recess over protests

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: JTA, 8-8-11

Israel’s Knesset will meet in a special session on the rash of protests sweeping the nation.

The debate scheduled for next week, which will interrupt the Knesset’s summer recess, was announced Monday after 50 opposition lawmakers signed a petition calling for the session titled “Netanyahu’s tax government is disconnected from the people and ignoring the public protest.” Only 25 signatures were necessary to call the meeting during a recess.

The signatures were collected by the Kadima and National Union parties.

On Monday, hundreds of senior citizens protested in Tel Aviv against the high cost of living, calling for lower costs for medications, a cancellation of the value-added tax on basic necessities and safeguards on the value of their pensions.

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

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.”

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