Latest civil protest shows that regardless of ideological views, Israelis want social justice
Yoni Buchsbaum Published: 07.27.11, 17:22
The wave of protests we have seen sweeping the country in the last two weeks leaves no room for doubt: Israel is a leftist society. Not the kind of Left that would protest in the territories and in Sheikh Jarrah every week and not even a Left that objects to the Bibi-Lieberman government's anti-democratic laws, but rather, a Left that demands social justice. The Israelis who have gone out to protest in the heavy July heat demand broad government interference in all areas of their lives: They want the State to protect them from food cartels and real estate sharks; they seek a high-quality public healthcare system and superb education. They don't want any more privatization or further renunciation of the State's responsibility in favor of "market forces." Leftists and rightists, secular and religious, communists and settlers are marching side by side. This is not just another homogeneous protest, but rather, the entire people of Israel urging the government to wake up and save our society. Let's put it on the table once and for all: The protestors' demands are leftist demands. The social-democratic values that the protestors wish to entrench here constitute the pillars of the Left's socioeconomic policy.
Anyone who demands a welfare state these days must internalize the following fact: A welfare policy cannot be premised on the ideological basis of the radical Left or extreme/messianic Right. The radical Left abandoned Israeli residents in Dimona and Kiryat Shmona by preferring to fight for the rights of deprived Palestinian farmers. The radical Left cannot continue to demand that the State allow tens of thousands of Africans (who are not refugees) to live here while at the same time save its citizens from poverty – our resources are limited. People demand social justice
The same charges can be directed at the bi-national Right that seeks to annex Judea and Samaria and grant the Palestinian inferior citizenship rights, while at the same time protecting Israeli workers from competition by Hebron laborers. The messianic Right prompts billions of shekels to go to waste annually to build infrastructure that sooner or later will be handed over as a gift to the Palestinian Authority – at the same time, we are urged to move to Israel's peripheral areas, which had been neglected in favor of the settlements. The issue of partitioning the land separated us for too long, and the most beautiful thing to come out of the current protest – regardless of its outcome – is a message of unity and solidarity. In the 2011 Israel we are no longer willing to sit quietly when our elderly neighbor has no money for medication, when the public healthcare system is facing collapse, and when talented, educated people cannot save money for their future and their children's future.
We are together again. The wild capitalistic policy failed to fully divide us, and despite Israeli governments' attempts to turn us all into hopeless individualists, we are proving again that we are all part of the same human fabric. July 2011 will be remembered in the history of the State as the month where Israel's citizens again took their fate into their own hands, while inspiring hope in a despaired, divided society. This spirit must be reinforced and channeled to decision-makers, so that they fully get the message: You shall no longer trample us. The people demand social justice!
Yoni Buchsbaum, 27, is a Jerusalem resident and is currently completing his Bachelor's Degree at Hebrew University
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