An Israeli Autumn?
By Geoffrey Paul
July 25, 2011
A major dilemma is fast looming for that larger part of the diaspora which, if not subservient to the slogan 'Israel right or wrong', feels emotionally, ideologically, even, it might be said, tribally committed to total support of the Jewish State, certainly when face-to-face with a critical non-Jewish world. But it is going to be different and the adjustment will demand new approaches and mind-sets for, if we are not on the edge of an “Israeli Spring,” we are imminently going to see challenges to the Israeli government and the ruling parties which are without precedent.
Within the last few days, Israel has experienced acts of civil disobedience unparalleled since the 'fifties and 'sixties. Thousands have marched and demonstrated in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa against the dearth of affordable housing. Roads have been blocked, tent cities have sprung up, and young families have taken to the streets in protest on a scale which has not been seen previously on a civil issue. These are not the disaffected “Black Panthers” of the Sephardi protests in earlier years. These are young men and women who are most decidedly in the mainstream.
They have now been joined in protest, a different protest, by doctors, headed by the president of the Israel Medical Association, who say that the once highly-regarded Israeli health service is near collapse, with doctors being overworked and insufficient funds being invested to keep the service viable. The IMA head is himself planning to start a hunger strike on Monday to draw attentiom to the situation. There is even talk of a national strike on August 1 and the Prime Minister has called off a visit to Poland in which he wanted to seek support against UN recognition of a Palestinian state.
The diaspora's dilemma? With whom do you stand, with the government of Israel which is being called to account for its inability to competently deal with domestic issues (while seeming to lack creativity on foreign ones), or with Israel's future which claims it cannot afford to live decently and bring up its children in the Jewish State and the doctors who say they are at the end of the life-preserving road? An exaggeration of where things are heading? I am sure someone will say so. But, OK, call me to account when we reach the Israeli Autumn.