Summer in the City (or: The Revolution will not be Facebooked)

Fashion. It dictates everything we do in life: what we wear; the music we listen to; the books you read (or don’t read) ; what phone you buy; even which people to ridicule (I’m looking at you hipsters – you know what you’ve done).

So it’s no wonder that mass protest has been gaining popularity in Israel the last couple of weeks. We looked at our brothers from the north, the south, the east and the west [I’m tempted to continue with: “My working week and my Sunday rest”. Sorry guys, I’m really going off topic today and have a trigger happy mentality when it comes to links] and decided that the “le chique le cool” thing to do nowadays is to flock to the streets and demand something. Anything.

I’m not saying the basis for the protesters’ complaints is unfounded. The population of Israel has been suffering hikes in prices all across the spectrum for a while now, along with stagnant wages (compared to the CPI), causing a constant decline in the quality of life. You don’t need to be a professor in economics to realize that’s a foolproof plan for misery.
I have been fortunate enough in life to be born to parents who taught us to spend wisely, cautiously, and to a point. Who invested in the right markets, but most importantly in their children – in our education both formally and not. I have many a times kvetched about their philosophy about higher education, that is “you can study whatever you like, as long as it’s engineering”, but in hindsight it was the most responsible lesson they could have bestowed on us: being practical and calculated triumphs. Once you have a profession, do as you’d like. That way the safety net is always there to fall upon.
I fear that a lot of people my age have been failed by their elders, otherwise how do you explain people who earn far beyond the average salary and yet “are not able to” save some money?

And again, there are unbelievable grievances to be had concerning the way our market operates. It is not sensible nor just that doctors, teachers and social workers earn less than part-time nannies. It is incomprehensible that purchasing an apartment in Tel Aviv will cost you 285 monthly salaries (whereas three and a half years ago that number was 173). But it is also incredibly mind-boggling that not a month ago our beloved Knesset passed the “boycott bill”. An anti-constitutional law by any standard, if only we’ve had a constitution.

Bibi and his Likud companions have dismissed the protest as political and the protesters as leftist elite wishing to overthrow the government. The latter claim, or at least the “leftist” part of it, has been debunked by the plethora of people joining the protest everyday (some religious, some are from settlements). The former is just preposterous – why can’t a protest be political? How is that even a complaint? By definition, when you want to change the state of things you need changes to happen at the political level. Change, as much as we’d all love to believe, does not come from within. If you want it to last and have an impact you must bound it by law.

And I guess I’m finally reaching the part about why I find recent events so vexing and upsetting. It seems as though our leadership does not yield to the fact that it was chosen by the people, and for the people. You can’t just sit in parliament passing laws that are destructive and detached from the public, oblivious to the struggle of everyday life in this country, expecting said public to ignore it and just vote for you in the next election. Granted, the Israeli public has done a swell job at being apathetic and\or spoiled.
The second somebody remembered to care about something (be it cottage cheese or otherwise), an onslaught of frustration poured and filled our sidewalks with tents. And our representative government has come “to show support”, as if they do not realize that they themselves and their conduct is the problem.

I do not know how this will end, but since the demands are piling up I’m guessing it will not be soon nor in a pleasing manner. I just hope – whenever the next elections will be, that people will remember who acted how and when, and that maybe this time there will actually be a party that will try to represent the public and not just their personal interests.


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