Monday, August 8, 2011

Social Justice and the Protest

Growing up, I went to many protests. I organized many while in college. I marched, I walked, I listened, I stood.  I'm not going to the current protests taking place all over Israel for a variety of reasons.

Mostly, I just can't quite figure out why this government is to blame or what it can do about prices. I live in a neighborhood where prices have soared in the last few years. We've lost good people to other neighborhoods because people just can't afford to live here anymore. One real estate agent said we got the last "cheap" house in the neighborhood - and we paid a lot of money for it.

My married children couldn't afford to buy here and that bothers me tremendously. But people sell their real estate for the price they want - it's a free market and if there is someone dumb enough to pay that price; there's going to be someone greedy enough or lucky enough to charge it. It's the law of supply and demand. It's basic economics and no, I don't think the government can do much about it in some places.

Yes, we could build more - and we should. Yes, the government should free up more areas and tell the world to go away when they start trying to tell us where we can build and where we can't. But this isn't enough to bring the government down - if it wasn't enough to bring previous governments down too.

What bothers me is the obvious bias of the protest organizers. They hate Bibi (well, I don't love him either) and they hate the "right-wing" and are using this protest to accomplish what they've failed to accomplish before. They want the government to fall - for their agenda...or whatever agenda they can use.

That Kadima paid thousands of shekels to support the protests - is a farce. Kadima is as much to blame as Likud for today's problems. They did nothing to help the housing situation when they were in office just as they did nothing to improve the fire-fighting capabilities while they were in power. The big fire came on Likud's watch - but the failure was successive governments over the last 10-15 years, or longer.

Same with the housing.

Same with the prices of most things here.

Last night, my youngest son came home and told me his friends were sleeping out in tents in the middle of the traffic circle near our house. They wanted to be part of the protests.

"What are they protesting?" I asked Davidi.

The boys tried to come up with something. Their first thought was to protest the high prices in our local supermarket - which does have exceptionally high prices compared to other stores. But they were afraid they would insult the store owner, so they gave up on that idea.

Next, they decided to protest that not enough people give them rides when they want to travel in the city, forcing them to sometimes take buses or walk. That was the best they could come up with.

All in all, whatever Israel was protesting - it was a glorious event because in the midst of the Arab Spring that has brought death to thousands (2,000 in Syria alone), we alone stood as the democracy in this region. We alone stood as the example for peaceful protests. Over 300,000 people attended, claim the organizers. However many were there, they came in peace and protested, and they went home in peace.

They were watched by thousands of security forces - there were no gunshots, no tanks rolling towards the people. Israel proved, yet again, the strength of our democracy and freedom.

No, I didn't go to the protests. I didn't feel the need. But I enjoyed the freedom to choose. To know that I could have gone; that many did go. I enjoyed knowing that my children understood this was a basic right that is theirs.

Today, dozens more were killed in Syria - and Israelis began their work week feeling just a bit prouder for the nation we have built and the freedom we cherish.

2 comments:

Barbara said...

I am feeling hopeful for the first time about my son's future in Israel. I'm thrilled beyond belief that so many people from all walks of life are protesting the living conditions in Israel, that every day many thousands more Israelis are waking up and saying what is going on here. I want my son to have a good life there. I don't have a basement apartment for him to live in and I don't want him living in a basement. He has to make his own way and it is very difficult. He came to Israel from the middle class, with a college degree already. He did his military service, more than was required, and worked a lot of menial jobs along the way. Now he has a good job that he likes very much with a start-up company and purposely lives a frugal lifestyle, but he is the working poor. He talks about maybe his children will have a better life than he will in Israel, not being really sure. But he wants to be there, it means something important to him.

Why does it have to be so hard to live in Israel? No one in America would tolerate the living or working conditions of the majority of Israelis, our people, our government, would not allow it. Why do not more people in Israel care, if not for themselves and their children and grandchildren, then for the people they see around them every day?

People are protesting because they want hope. They want to know that the future will be a good one, that their striving and hard work will mean something. They want everything and everyone standing in their way to move out of the way. They want to lift everyone up, not hold them down so they can climb over them, not lift up only the people who have connections. What is wrong with that? It is a good thing that is happening, a great thing. I applaud your son and his friends. They may not be able to articulate what they are feeling, but they know that all is not well in Israel and their future matters to them.

ProphetJoe said...

I have to chuckle inside about your comments regarding the younger son and his friends. It's a sign of youth. They recognize things aren't as easy or idyllic as they'd like them to be, but they can't put a finger on a solution. Protesting brings a sense of community with the other young people around them and a sense of "doing something".

Ah, to be young again!


PJ

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