Why I did participate in last night’s social justice rally

September 4, 2011 - 5:11 PM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, education, General, Life, Politics, Social Justice 

Unlike Brian, I did participate in last night’s social demonstration. Along with another 450,000 Israelis who felt impassioned enough to get themselves off their comfortable sofas on to some very packed streets on a Saturday night. For me there wasn’t any question about it. Of course I’d go.

Okay the leaders of this mass social protest are still a bit woolly in their demands and their voices not quite refined yet, but hell, they didn’t plan this mass spontaneous eruption of feeling, and they haven’t had years to prepare. They may have initiated it, but they had no idea how big it would become or what it would mean.

Protestors packing Kikar HaMedina in Tel Aviv. Photo by Flash90.

Whether Daphne Leef served in the army, and why she didn’t is just a diversion from what is certainly the most significant and real protest about the inequalities in Israeli life – for all sectors of society, Jewish and non-Jewish (as the Haifa protest showed).

The fact that this protest erupted despite all the security threats of yet another long, hot summer, is just proof of how valid and sincere this movement is, and how pissed people actually are.

Many people live really well in Israel, despite the high prices, poor education, and low wages, but there are many who don’t.

A few months ago, we wrote a report on Leket, the organization that gleans food for the poor. The reporter stated that 1.7 million people in Israel are living in poverty, half of them children.

I phoned her up. “Are you sure that figure’s right?” I said. “There’s only 7.7 million people in Israel.”

“Yes,” she said. “It’s right.”

I may not live in Tel Aviv, but I live in a bubble, and I know it. I may grumble about the ludicrous prices we pay at the supermarket, I may get angry when petrol prices go up again, but I’m lucky enough to be able to swallow the increases. Many people can’t.

The night before the protest, we had family round for dinner. My husband said he was tired and wanted to stay in and watch TV on the sofa rather than go to the protest.

“This isn’t for us,” my sister in law’s husband said. “This is for all those people who have been struggling here for so many years. They’ve been protesting all summer, and they’re at their last gasp. We have to go in and help them.”

So we all went. We took the whole family. We went with friends, and bumped into so many other friends and acquaintances who all made the same decisions as us. We were squashed, and hot, and tired, and it took an hour and a half to get home. But that didn’t matter. We were there.

For me, I think of the current leaders of this movement as caretakers. I didn’t go because I believe their demands are perfect, I went because I think something needs fixing in Israeli society, and if you don’t stand up and say that, then nothing will ever change.

 

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