What Israel is about

April 18, 2013

The name Stav Shaffir will not be familiar to that many readers outside Israel, although our interview with her this week will help change that. But in her own way, the newly elected Labour MK represents just what the 65 year old Jewish state stands for.

When the so-called Arab Spring began at the end of 2010, there was a wave of optimism that repressive regimes would give way to something better. Since then, reality has taken hold. The best that can be said is that one form of repression has given way to another.

Israel had its own version the following summer, a massive social protest on the streets. Ms Shaffir was one of the organisers, and on the back of that she was chosen by Labour to stand for the Knesset. Now, at 27, she is an elected politician. What a contrast.

In the Arab regimes surrounding Israel, protestors have either been ignored or have themselves imposed another tyranny. In Israel, protestors' and their concerns are part of the democratic process. As we celebrate Israel's latest anniversary, that is one of her proudest boasts.

Last updated: 4:45pm, April 18 2013