What can we learn about Israel's vs. America's social protests? The majority of the Israeli public wholeheartedly supported the summer's social protest movement with peaceful large mass rallies nationwide, while in America, there was a lack of positive, peaceful support for the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The Israel protests were non-violent and did not include people getting in the way of small businesses, urinating and defecating in public and other anti-social acts, including carrying anti-Semitic signs.
Also the Israeli protests began with a clearly defined concern - i.e. that the price of most rental partments is more than many people's salary.
None of this was true in the U.S.
In fact, over time, the Israeli protests added issues and lost some focus and the support went down.
Answered by: Rabbi --- Not Active with JVO Suspended
What can we learn from how the majority of the Israeli public wholeheartedly supported the summer's social protest movement with peaceful large mass rallies nationwide versus the lack of positive peaceful general mass support for the Occupy Wall Street protests in the U.S.?
As someone who was fortunate to spend the first half of the summer in Israel when the protests were unfolding there and the second half of the summer in back in the United States, I was able to observe both protest movements. I have to say that neither movement met with complete approval or disapproval from the public and neither was quite as simple or straightforward as you make them out to be. While the protests in Israel may have been more peaceful (but not completely peaceful), they were no less controversial.
Israel faced a series of protests and strikes during the summer in response to the economic conditions that Israelis are facing these days. It began with complaints over the cost of staples like cottage cheese; it continued with protests by medical students and nurses because of the long hours and difficult conditions they face while working in hospitals; and it reached its climax with the creation of tent cities and public rallies throughout the countries in response to the high cost of housing and the inability of young Israelis to afford apartments.
But the housing protests did not take place without public criticism. Some felt that the tent cities were an excuse to complain about a wide variety of social and political issues unrelated to housing. Some complained that the protesters were malcontents without a clear message. In this sense, the criticism was not so very different from the type of criticism that I heard back here in the United States.
If there was more sympathy for the protesters in Israel than in the United States, I believe it has much to do with the nature and size of Israeli society. Israel is a small country. What happens to individual, tends to affect the society as a whole. Everyone seems to know someone who is struggling with low salaries and the high cost of housing, so this is not just a social issue; it's personal.
Also, Israelis take an active interest in one another's lives. Consider how engaged Israelis were in responding to the captivity of Gilad Shalit just a year before. There is a strong sense of group responsibility in Israel that grows out of the Israeli experience: spending time in the army, dealing with hostile neighbors, and building a society based on the Zionist vision. It's what I love about Israel! Also, anyone who has spent time in Israel knows that Israelis take an active interest in one another's business. One person will think nothing of telling a parent on a bus how to raise their children! So Israelis are deeply sensitive to the issues effecting their neighbors and often become engaged in loud and passionate discussion of such issues.
Finally, Israeli society as a whole is dealing with dramatic changes over the past few decades. Israel has experienced unprecedented success in technology and innovative start-up companies. But Israel has made a rocky transition from a socialistic to a capitalist economy. Some have benefited while many have been left behind. There is also a growing gap between the rich and the poor in Israel which concerns Israelis. While Americans often ignore this gap in our own society (wrongly, I would suggest), Israelis simply cannot do so. It is all around them. And at the end of the day, Israel is really just a big family in which there a deep sense of communal responsibility.
Israel was founded as a Jewish state. Those values permeate its very existence. By this, we mean not only the value of Jewish survival, but the values of social justice. While Israel is far from perfect, as illustrated by the reason for the protest rallies, it is influenced by our multi-millennial pursuit of justice that goes as far back as “Tzedek tzedek tirdof (Justice, justice, shall you pursue) found in the Torah.
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