Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Swelling list of demands fuels Israel protests

Israel’s social protest movement started with a tent on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard and a few voices demanding affordable housing. In less than a month it has grown into a national phenomenon – and perhaps the most serious challenge yet to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last Saturday, more than 250,000 Israelis took to the street to call for social reform. Tent cities have sprung up across the country, drawing in an ever-expanding cast of protesters – from students to pensioners, and Holocaust survivors to taxi drivers.

In a striking procession of strollers, young parents marched through Tel Aviv to demand better childcare. Dairy farmers, meanwhile, decided to flood a busy intersection with milk in an effort to highlight their low income.

The demands, too have grown. What started out as a protest against housing costs has morphed into calls for a sweeping overhaul of Israel’s economy and society: the protesters want a new taxation system (lower indirect taxes, higher direct taxes), free education and childcare, an end to the privatisation of state-owned companies and more investment in social housing and public transport. There is talk of imposing price controls on basic goods and a broader desire to see an end to “neo-liberal” government policies. (more)