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Arab Spring in Jerusalem?

The international media and some analysts in Israel are quick to say that recent protests signal the increasing influence of the long-dormant Israeli left and the arrival of the Arab Spring in Israel. Not quite, I’m afraid.

A revival of the Israeli left would make President Obama’s life easier: Labor governments are usually more willing to help the US nudge the peace process along.  But don’t hold your breath. 100,000 people demonstrating against a dictator is a crisis; 100,000 in a democracy means it’s a sunny day. Netanyahu can make some economic changes. He shouldn’t have a problem keeping his job at least until the next election in 2013. As the host of one popular Israeli radio show told the New York Times,

It’s summer, the kids are on holiday, you live in a tent, it’s fun. The demonstrations are not very focused. They are for a higher standard of living. Fine. But there is no danger to this government.

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  • RC

    These protests are much more like those over the rising fuel price in Europe. It’s jus that everything is more dramatic when its in Israel, because it is a small, often turbulent democracy. Also, people like to suggest that it is tyrannical country, no better than is neighbors.

  • Ariel

    I think you are right on here like usual.

    From Tel Aviv I would say you are making an accurate observation. Yesterday I heard the education minister say that if they gave the protesters everything they want then it would end up like Greece or Portugal. The protests have taken on a political slant and the right and religious are not taking part. The two major TV stations are on the left and are pumping up the protests along with Haaretz in order to topple the government. There are problems here in terms of monopolies and prices but it is being exaggerated by the coverage.

  • Adam

    I agree – except I wouldn’t sell short the populist anger. While the tent encampments are more Woodstock than Tahrir, it’s been so hot and humid here for the last two weeks that even breathing the air while walking from point A to B can be a sweaty and uncomfortable exertion. I was – and remain – quite impressed with the number of people willing to leave their air conditioners to come out to the streets, especially for the protest marches.

    While the movement still seems to have some legs, it is without focus or viable agenda. There is a larger story here about Israel’s increasing government inefficiency, corruption and lopsided distribution of wealth – issues who’s resolution has long been sacrificed on the alter of Israeli security – but so far those issues haven’t really made it down to the street. People are just angry about the cost of living, without following it back to root causes.

    Bibi will be fine to flail his arms a bit, enact some small legislative changes and sit tight until things peter out.

  • menachem kellner

    Everyone I know here in Haifa thinks that the protests are a wonderful thing, but I do not know anyone who has actually protested. If I were to venture out into the humidity myself, it would be in support of the physicans, who are trying to keep Israel’s fantastic health care system from being destroyed by some hyper-capitalist figures in the Treasury.

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