Hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities can’t be ignored, although one should keep in mind that there are more than 5 million registered voters in Israel (in 2009, 65% of them voted), and most of them are not in the streets.
There’s no doubt that many of the demonstrators’ complaints are justified. It’s just Economics 101 that monopoly or oligopoly-dominated markets result in higher prices. It’s a fact that a great degree of income inequality creates dissatisfaction. And it’s a fact that there is a real problem finding affordable housing, and not just in the most desirable parts of Tel Aviv.
But there is also no doubt that some are trying to turn the protests into a movement to replace the government with one more to their liking, and not just because of economic issues. As I wrote last week, connections between protest leaders and not only anti-Bibi but even anti-Zionist elements have been evident from the beginning.
In particular, the American New Israel Fund (NIF) has been playing a central role in financing the protests and advising their leaders. The NIF has always been arrogant about its ‘right’ to directly interfere in the politics of another nation, and the arrogance is openly on display in a fundraising letter sent to American donors by Daniel Sokatch, NIF CEO and Rachel Liel, his Executive Director in Israel, which includes this:
150,000 of my fellow Israelis went into the streets Saturday night to demand a better, more just Israel…
Our Shatil organizers are in the field, lending expertise at protest sites all over the country. And our emergency grants help sustain the activists in their ongoing protest.
I just bet.
The NIF has supported — and continues to support — various groups which engage in demonization of the IDF, call for the ‘dezionization’ of the state and boycott-divestment-sanctions of Israel. This is described in detail in my earlier post, “The New Israel Fund — the bad and the ugly.”
The NIF’s “better, more just Israel” is not the Jewish state that the great majority of Israelis, or even the majority of demonstrators, want.
If the protest leaders want their legitimate demands taken seriously, then they should tell the NIF and its “Shatil organizers” to go home.