When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Israel

Is Israel Starting To Feel A Touch Of Arab Spring?

A period of relative calm on the security front has given way to rising frustrations among about long-ignored economic problems. The result has been a series of online – and on the streets – protests.

Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv, Israel

TEL AVIV – Along Rothschild Boulevard, the most urbane thoroughfare in Tel Aviv, hundreds of students and young couples have been camping out since last week in an ongoing protest for improved housing conditions. The atmosphere is friendly. Neighbors bring the demonstrators food. Artists parade to show their support.

"The 18-square-meter-basement I live in doesn't have a window and my rent is at $975 a month. Is that fair?" says Oren Sabiani, one of the leaders of the protest, which was organized via Facebook. "People are tired of being in the red and of not being able to make plans for the future. They are tired of seeing the government only interested in what happens in Iran rather than in the daily lives of its own people."

Protestors and their tents are popping up in other Israeli cities as well. And they appear to have the support of the press. Columnist Ben Caspit, who writes for the daily Maariv, laments that "the government invested billions of dollars in the development of the settlements, and neglected to develop the country itself."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly understood that Israel's "indignados' – as the local press has taken to calling them – could be a political danger. The original indignados rose to prominence earlier this year in Spain. The prime minister received some of the Israeli protestors this past Monday. With television cameras rolling, he promised to speed up administrative procedures for future public housing programs. Netanyahu acknowledged, nevertheless, that his efforts aren't likely to produce immediate results.

According to Linda, a student at the University of Tel Aviv, "politicians are falling over each other to keep us in the fold. But we won't be fooled again. Our fight will last as long as it takes because we have nothing to lose."

Dairy fight

Social movements of this kind are rare in Israel. The last major movement took place between 1969 and 1974, when the Sephardim (Jews hailing from the Mediterranean countries) created the Israel Black Panthers organization and protested violently against the Ashkenazi Establishment (European Jews) who they claimed kept them in poverty.

These past few weeks, however, Israeli citizens have thrown away their legendary inertia and decided to launch some large-scale actions. In early July, organized again via Facebook, tens of thousands of customers participated in a boycott of the country's three main dairy products companies, which critics accuse of artificially raising cottage cheese price. The boycott also hurt big retail chains.

The government responded by promising to lower prices by encouraging competition and by allowing European dairy products to be imported in the country. The fact that the government reacted at all was hailed as a major victory for the boycotters. The leaders of both the dairy industry and major supermarkets enjoy close ties with political leaders.

Emboldened by the dairy protest, frustrated Israelis quickly put together other Facebook pages complaining about the high price of diapers, powdered milk and even the price of the new Samsung smartphone, which was reduced significantly overnight.

"It's not surprising to see these movements developing now, because the security situation is rather calm," says Keren Marciano, an economics reporter. "People don't feel as threatened by the outside world right now, so they begin to focus on what had previously been left aside, that is, problems within the country. A wave of revolt has begun to sweep through Israel…and it's not likely to subside any time soon."

Read the original article in French

Photo - Yoni Lerner

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

The Xi-Putin Alliance Is Dead, Long Live The Xi-Putin Alliance

The façade of unity between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin was lifted in Uzbekistan last week. But where exactly does the Chinese head of state stand on the Russian invasion of Ukraine? Beijing is still establishing its place in the world, and it remains in contradiction to the West

China's President Xi Jinping, Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Russia's President Vladimir Putin during the 22nd Summit of the SCO

Gregor Schwung

-Analysis-

Xi Jinping is not out of practice. The Chinese President's public demeanor on his first foreign trip since January 2020 was as confident as ever. When meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, he promptly removed his mask and stood inches away from the Russian president, smiling affably.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

What looked routine to the outside world was a diplomatic tightrope walk that the Chinese leader felt compelled to perform. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since February, when they proclaimed a "friendship without borders" at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Shortly thereafter, Putin launched his campaign against Ukraine – and the world wondered whether Putin had used his Olympic visit to obtain Xi's approval for his invasion.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ