People say Tahrir Square inspired the world. Revolutionnaries from everywhere will use this template for carrying revolts and ask for dignity, freedom and rights. So when a social unrest movement started in Israel in July 14th, many commentors wanted to see in it one of the many waves generated by the ‘Arab Spring’. The Israelis are gathering in Tel-Aviv in increasing numbers since three weeks (when a young activist settled a tent on Rotschild street) to protest against high rents in Israel. The number of participants have reached 300’000 people.
Even Israelis sometimes say themselves they were inspired by Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. A famous picture shows a protestor carrying a sign saying “Walk like an Egyptian“, and sometimes signs are written in hebrew and in arabic.
But alas, Tel-Aviv is not Tahrir. It is not sufficient to claim making an arab-like revolution for it to be truly one. Our Arab revolutions were, before to be about costs of living (even if it’s true they were too about it), about justice and freedom, end of violence and torture. One of the famous Tunisian mottos even was “Bread and Salt, but not Ben Ali” (“bread and salt” is a Tunisian expression meaning eating very poorly); many Libyans droped out the oil income Gaddafi was giving them and the privileges Arabs had among Berbers in Libya, because they know the Libyan people freedom knows no price high enough to be sold; Bahraini were among the first to rise in February although they are certainly not the poorest in the Arab World, because they don’t want to live in a golden cage.
The problem with the Israeli protests is that they are claiming against Netanyehou government for the very wrong reasons. They complain about high rents but without firmly condemning the aspects of the housing policy that discriminates Palestinians, excludes them out of towns, encourages settlements and land expropriation. By silenting on these issues, they just say they will buy it, if only a little more discount is made. Paying too much taxes is an issue for the Israeli citizen, but nor apartheid, nor the crimes of Tsahal are. The fact that a war criminal like Tzipi Livni endorses the unrest demands proves that the rights of Palestinians are totally out of interest for the July 14th movement.
Many activists say they don’t mention the Palestinian issue in the protests demands because they want the movement to keep “apolitical”. Way of pushing aside the embarrassing questions: indeed, unjustice and human rights violations are beyond ‘politics’ in real democracies, while it is political only in phantom democracies. For the huge majority of the people in the streets in Tel-Aviv, if a little effort is made by the government to lower rents or find solutions to build a new campus for Israeli students, they will easily leave the streets, and carry on with their lives, satisfied with themselves as revolutionnaries with this revolution on the cheap.
Thus, the current Israeli unrest is the negation of Justice, it is the negation of the Tahrir spirit.