An Israeli Autumn?


By Geoffrey Paul
July 25, 2011
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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.

COMMENTS

Ben F

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:16

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Geoffrey, internal contradictions can never be resolved, that is why they are called contradictions.

You can only eliminate one of the horns of the dilemma. That is support those seeking to make Israel a better place so that it might conceivably become emotionally and psychologically capable of ending the occupation and living in peace with its neighbours.

You then have killed two birds with one stone.


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:16

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1 point

Gimme a break ... there is plenty of affordable housing... just not in North Tel Aviv which apparently is a reason for marching

A bit like me marching because I cannot afford to live in Bishops Avenue


Ben F

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:23

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You could always pitch a tent in Monmouth Street Jonathan. Or maybe go into a squat. There is soon to be empty premisses I understand.


Joe Millis

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 21:30

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That's disingenuous, Hoffman. This is Israel's Tahrir Square moment. The tent cities are nationwide not just Tel Aviv. The Israeli middle class, whose salaries are far lower than the UK's (about £1500 a month compared to Britain's £2,200 a month average), are having to contend with rents and property prices at Home Counties' levels, fuel and food costs higher than here and public transport fares at an all-time high (although not quite as extortionate as London's). There is little or no public housing or affordable housing for professionals such as registrars and other doctors, let alone nurses, teachers and students. Is it any wonder that those who can are seeking to leave?
How can you be so disconnected from the social reality in Israel?
But, hey, so long as the zealots are appeased, who cares about the middle class?


Stephen Franklin

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 09:33

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There is no contradiction between support for Israel in the face of a vicious propaganda war waged by the NUJ (who voted to boycott Israel, but not Burma, Iran or any other country), and support for Israelis who want better housing and a better health service.

When Israel is being unfairly attacked from without, friends of Israel should come to its support. That does not mean that we should vigorously support the government of the day's domestic policies, but maybe if we want to join in that debate we should do so in the Israeli media, rather than the international media.


Stephen Franklin

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 09:33

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There is no contradiction between support for Israel in the face of a vicious propaganda war waged by the NUJ (who voted to boycott Israel, but not Burma, Iran or any other country), and support for Israelis who want better housing and a better health service.

When Israel is being unfairly attacked from without, friends of Israel should come to its support. That does not mean that we should vigorously support the government of the day's domestic policies, but maybe if we want to join in that debate we should do so in the Israeli media, rather than the international media.


Joe Millis

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 09:41

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No, Stephen, we'll do it our way, not the shills' way. Let the shills shill.


Stephen Franklin

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 09:54

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Joe I think you read only the second sentence of the second paragraph of my post and did not see

"When Israel is being unfairly attacked from without, friends of Israel should come to its support."

If you really want to indulge in fractious domestic Israeli politics in the international media you can, but I think that it does more harm than good to both sides of the debate within Israel.


Joe Millis

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 10:24

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No, Stephen, it gives those who do the criticising credibility when they take on the real naysayers. People such as Jonathan Freedland or David Aaronovich, for instance.
And who gets to determine what is "unfairly attacked"? The shills? Sometimes friends need to criticise
Shills are seen as just that - shills who appear to be reading from some Israel Foreign Ministry hymn sheet. People just hear them and say: "They would say that, wouldn't they?"


Joe Millis

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 10:24

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No, Stephen, it gives those who do the criticising credibility when they take on the real naysayers. People such as Jonathan Freedland or David Aaronovich, for instance.
And who gets to determine what is "unfairly attacked"? The shills? Sometimes friends need to criticise
Shills are seen as just that - shills who appear to be reading from some Israel Foreign Ministry hymn sheet. People just hear them and say: "They would say that, wouldn't they?"


Stephen Franklin

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 10:58

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I am not criticising any specific individuals and I don't know what a shill is but I guess that you are accusing me of being one.

I speak out frequently before the Israel Foreign Ministry does. I certainly don't take my cues from them, unless I learn something from them that I didn't previously know (and even then I check to see how the same things have been reported elsewhere).

I do follow the arguments put forward by the enemies of Israel as well as their friends, and notice that when Israel's friends openly criticise the domestic policies of Israel, the enemies of Israel take advantage of what they say, and selectively quote edited passages to make Israel's actions seem even worse than those doing the criticism intended.

The effect is that Israelis on both sides of the debate are damaged because those who wish Israel harm are the people who make the most effective use of the arguments waged in the international media against domestic Israeli government policies.


Joe Millis

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 11:12

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No I'm not accusing you of being a shill, Stephen. Those who are know who they are
To be frank, I honestly do not care what the naysayers say or use. My view is that you have to be truthful at all times in order to retain any credibility. Just parroting Israel's propaganda is not going to work.
And again, who decides whether Israel is being attacked unfairly?


Advis3r

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 13:05

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Truthful at all times you mean like settlers are immoral - that's the truth? BTW my hebrew name is Nachman - look up what it means.


Stephen Franklin

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 15:32

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Joe I agree that you have to be honest and truthful at all times in order to retain credibility. I also agree that just parroting propaganda is not going to work. I never said anything different.

What I said was:
"When Israel is being unfairly attacked from without, friends of Israel should come to its support. That does not mean that we should vigorously support the government of the day's domestic policies, but maybe if we want to join in that debate we should do so in the Israeli media, rather than the international media."

It is fairly obvious when Israel is being unfairly attacked and it happens frequently in The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC to name but three. It is notable the the NUJ voted to boycott Israel, but not to boycott for example Burma, Iran, North Korea or Zimbabwe. There seems to be a great deal of bias among our journalists.

The BBC at least has the virtue of a complaints system, but the people who run it are as biased as the journalists complained of. The result is that very few justified complaints are upheld and those that are are very much watered down.

An example was a complaint that I made that was upheld (sort of) by the BBC Trust yesterday.
http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/52343/bbc-today-programme-complaint-up...

The BBC at least has the virtue of a complaints procedure, but it is run by people who are at least as biased as those journalists complained against with the result that I described in my blog
http://www.thejc.com/blogs/stephen-franklin/bbc-today-programme-complain....


Joe Millis

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 15:35

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Stephen, who decides if the BBC, Guardian etc are being unfair towards Israel? Sometimes, I get the feeling that people see or hear the word Israel and immediately think its being attacked.


Stephen Franklin

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 15:59

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As I said you only need to check the facts against what they write and in most cases the picture that they paint is slanted against Israel. The BBC is probably not as bad as the Guardian or the Independent, but because of the BBC's complaints procedure I have records of numerous examples by the BBC.

Usually the complaints aren't upheld by their own equally biased complaints team, but that does not mean that the evidence is not fairly conclusive.

Most of the mainstream British media also chooses not to report that the Palestine Authority very frequently claims all of Israel as their country and also very frequently honours those who have murdered Israeli civilians, and pays salaries to those in Israeli jails for terrorist offences.

They also don't report that Hamas continues to call for Jews to be murdered on their TV station and continues to say to their own people that there should be no compromise with Israel (which they call "the Zionist entity" or "the occupation"). They that Israel must be defeated by active resistance (ie violently). They say this in Arabic and English on their own web site, yet most of (if not all) the mainstream media ignore it and talk of Hamas as if they were a possible partner for peace.

The bias is every bit as much in what they do not say as in what they do say, but the evidence is overwhelming.

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