An Israeli protest

There have been few more egregious examples of unthinking commentary about Israel than the references by some pundits and politicians in recent weeks to what they term the 'Israeli Summer', as if the 'Tent City' protest in Tel Aviv was somehow an extension of the Arab Spring.

The Arab protestors were seeking basic freedoms in countries ruled by despots. The Israeli protests are the exact opposite - an example of that very freedom of expression which the Arab protesters sought and which is at the heart of Israeli life.

Indeed, as we report this week, the Israeli protests are not even, when examined closely, an especially new phenomenon. They may have been sparked by anger about the cost of living and rents but they have metamorphosed into a catch-all protest for many long-standing issues, such as the disquiet from parts of Israeli society about benefits to unemployed Charedim and fiscal transfers to settler communities. The protests have made for an uncomfortable summer for the Israeli government. They are important enough on their own terms, without preposterous claims about an 'Israeli Summer'.

    Last updated: 1:07pm, August 4 2011