I am not a privileged Jewish citizen of Israel, therefore if it stays as it is now, I wont be directly affected by this Tent Protest movement. But I am writing this only out of concern of the message this protest convey, What is #J14 really about?
These protests started when some Israelis decided to protest high prices of Tel Aviv apartments by setting up tents in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild boulevard. This movement assigned #j14 as a hashtag people use to discuss this topic on the internet, it stands for July 14, the day it all began.
#J14 developed into protests calling for Social Justice for the citizens of Israel. It started with youth protesting housing prices and turned into a massive movement that included doctors, lawyers, social workers, government employees etc. all protesting low wages and demand social justice. On Saturday, 300,000 Israelis took to the streets to participate in the protest. This movement is something that cannot be ignored, it is the awakening of a people which has for long been unawakened. But, what are they being awakened to?
The real defect the state of Israel suffered since it’s inception is Zionism which led to ethnic cleansing, occupation, and later Apartheid. One thing #j14 has failed to address since it began is the necessity to end occupation to be able to come out of the protests with actual results and not something that would simply continue with the ill treatment of Palestinians inside Israel and the occupied territories.
Now, it is important to clarify that I am not saying there weren’t chants against the occupation, that there weren’t calls for equal treatment for all citizens, Jewish and Arab (in occupied territories too). There were, but the movement organizers decided not to address those crucial issues because they were afraid to lose popular support from Jewish Israeli participants. Organizers have said clearly that they want to keep this movement “apolitical” therefore not addressing racism, not addressing occupation, not addressing ethnic cleansing and simply call for social justice only for the dominant Jewish majority. A list of official demands has emerged but it doesn’t address any of the issues I stated. This is a blind movement as long as it doesn’t address crucial issues which are the reason of all this.
The Israeli Government is putting a lot of its money to maintain an occupation which will not last! Today, a lot of settlers are moving into West Bank settlements because of cheaper housings and cheaper life styles. Settlers are lured into Settlements because the rightest government offers them easy life there. Those who stay to live in cities like Tel Aviv pay the cost, they pay for the actions of a government which seeks to enlarge an illegal occupation of an occupied territory. Do most Israelis realize that their tax money has been heavily invested by their government into building an illegal wall around the West Bank instead of improving their lives in Israel? This is the real injustice, ending the occupation leads to the accomplishment of your goals in achieving social justice.
I really cannot say I support this movement now, but I believe it can turn to be good in one way. Those who claim that they oppose occupation and the ill treatment of Palestinians should use this vibrant environment to come out strong, come up with a new list of demands that would call for an end of occupation and grant social justice and equality for everyone, all citizens who are under Israeli rule, including the occupied territories. This is your chance, now is the time!
Always being afraid of what the community would think is the way to never change. If they decide to ignore the injustice, then they silently approve of it. I don’t want misleading messages that this protest has people who call for an end to occupation when I don’t see that in news headlines or official demand list. It is never too late though!
Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace