Huge social and economic justice protests continue in Israel. The Troubadour and weasel have offered some excellent coverage of the strikes and street protests that have involved over 100,000 Israelis. The protests have focused on the high cost of housing, food and services for Israel's middle class. The Troubadour has analyzed the absence of mention of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians in the protests. There has been limited Palestinian participation in the larger protests. Many Palestinians under occupation have expressed dismay that the protests have not paid attention to the high cost, both financial and ethical, of maintaining an occupation over millions of Palestinians. Today, there is buzz about a tent set up in the heart of Tel Aviv with signs in Arabic and Hebrew. This is Tent #48:
The organizers' facebook page tells us that the goals of this protest are equality for all in Israel.
We are a group of Arabs and Jews, who believe in shared sovereignty of all its citizens. We all share the same space in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Instead of thinking about separation and limitation, we think about the realization of the option that is already available: coexistence. The Israeli state policy of divide and rule since the state's inception imposes limits on deep social demands. If we work together we can only benefit.
#48 refers to the year 1948, the year that Israeli Jews celebrate as the founding of Israel, and Palestinians mourn as the start of their exile and ethnic cleansing from their homes inside Palestine known as the Nakba.
The Facebook page for the group further explains their demands:
We want this struggle to speak out about the housing crisis among Mizrahi Jews and Palestinians, in the cities, towns and villages.
We want to end the Judaizing of Arab neighborhoods and the "development" of poor neighborhoods by building luxury complexes. We want to stop the eviction of Palestinian families as happens every day in Jaffa, Lydda, Ramla and elsewhere in Israel and the occupied territories.
We want to end the discrimination against Arabs in the rental and purchase of apartments and eradicate phenomena that have become accepted in Jewish society, such as the "Rabbis' Letter".
We want to change the land policy in Israel. No more land confiscation and house demolitions. We live here together; it's time we start to come to terms with that reality.
We want to talk about discrimination in state institutions, education, health, culture.
We demand a recognition of the fundamental rights of Palestinian Arab inside Israel and the occupied territories to control their own lives.
We want to remember the cost to this country of the occupation. The occupation robs state resources to build walls and barriers that embitter the life of the Palestinian population in order to secure and support Jewish-only settlements. The money used to maintain the occupation can be used to improve the life of the Jewish and Arab populations.
h/t Assaf for the translation
Adalah, a human rights organization inside Israel, has reported on the history of land confiscation, a policy that along with the denial of the return of refugees, has served Israel in maintaining an artificial demographic majority of Jews over Palestinians:
There are reports this evening many have joined the tent to play and sing Arab music to the astonishment of passersby.
One of the songs they are singing is the famous Unadikum by the Palestinian poet Tawfic Ziad that goes like this:
I call to you all:
I take your hand and hold it tightly.
I kiss the ground on which you place your feet.
I know that for you I would give my life.
My life I would give for you.
I offer you the light of my eyes,
The fire of my heart:
For this pain that I suffer
Is only a small part of your pain.
I never have sold my country
And I have been willing to serve,
To face the invader with steadfastness and courage,
An orphan willing to die.
Carrying my people on my shoulders,
You will see my flag raised high,
And a mountain clothed in the green of the olive branch
For those who will come after.
I call to you all!
The photo below carries a sign that reads in Arabic, "The People Demand the Fall of the Regime," a slogan that has been heard throughout the Arab world this year.
This is a small part of the story of Israel's economic protests, but for Palestinians who have been calling out the hypocrisy of the Israeli Left who have been demanding social justice but ignoring the elephant in the living room, this is welcome news. This year is certainly shaping up to be one full of huge historical developments in the region, developments that have been fueled by grassroots demonstrations like these. What develops on the Palestine-Israel front remains to be seen. Stay tuned.