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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Leftist Farce Plays in Tel Aviv

It was probably the cottage cheese protests that gave the left an idea about how to regain a fraction of relevance. The notion was simple enough, shift away from the pro-terrorist protests and union strikes to a cost of living protest movement.

The Israeli left still commands international funding and attention, but it lacks domestic political representation. The Labor party is on its deathbed and the radical left has no hope of gaining anything beyond the usual handful of mandates. That leaves Kadima, the non-party created by corruptocrats, Sharon and Olmert.

Unsurprisingly for a party that only existed to ratify the personal power of its leaders, it has no real ideology. Kadima's only real platform is to get elected. Its leader by default, Livni, makes Olmert seem like a genius. Watching Livni try to give a speech, or even make a statement, tempts you to pit her in a binoculars competition against union thug and former defense minister Amir Peretz, who couldn't tell which side of them to look through.

Livni has her own binoculars problem. Not only does she keep looking through the wrong side of them, she also keeps looking in the wrong direction. Her only strategy for becoming Prime Minister has been expecting Obama to force out Netanyahu out so she can take over. If Israeli archeologists keep finding Second Temple relics, Kadima has found itself a Second Temple politician so dimwitted as to think that Obama is a latter day Roman emperor whose legions will march in to imprison Netanyahu and make her into his puppet.

Finally a taste of cottage cheese has convinced the left that it needs to let go of Rabin and become a revolutionary socialist movement. Unfortunately the only oppressed they're interested in are Ashkenazi middle-class activists in Tel Aviv complaining that housing is too expensive. Imagine Sean Penn as the representative of the Rent is Too Damn High party, and you get some idea of how pathetic all this is.

Take the number of housing activists protesting in Tel Aviv, divide by the politics of the media outlets involved, and then subtract common sense-- and you'll come closer to the actual number. Which is probably less than the voting rolls for Meretz, a left-wing party resembling what the city of Berkeley might be like if it turned into a political party, and still much less influential than any decent sized union.

But fortunately Meretz members are concentrated in all the right places, like Tel Aviv and the media. Which makes a protest movement easier. Normal people with college degrees being supported by their parents would find something shameful about staging a protest calling for a welfare state. But when your only job is trying to play guitar while empathizing with the plight of Gazans who don't even have electric guitars-- shame is not a word you use often.

Tel Aviv is admittedly a tragedy. One of the 50 most overpopulated cities in the world, worse than Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Cape Town. Why would housing in a city with a higher population density than Tokyo be so ridiculously expensive? It's one of those questions that can be answered by anyone who isn't an idiot. But not being an idiot is a disqualifier for participating in middle class protests for a welfare state.

The best way to lower the price of housing isn't with government projects, but by lowering population density. And the biggest enemies of expanding housing territory is the left, which has waged an ongoing war to block housing in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Ethnically cleanse the Jews of Gaza and discover that those people have to go somewhere too. And all of it affects housing prices.

The Negev pipe dream won't solve the problem. And none of the housing protesters are about to move there. Instead they want more housing in Gush Dan, already so overcrowded that in another generation it will look like Cairo. And government subsidized housing at that.

Desperate Tent City Protester
But really this isn't about housing. It's a chance for the left to rediscover the roots that it doesn't have anymore. The Ashkenazi middle-class leftist protests are a reminder of how out of touch the left is with the rest of the country. Imagine if the Democratic party had never been able to reach past Berkeley and you get some idea of how culturally disabled the Israeli left is.

Tel Aviv has become Israel's California-- a dysfunctional overcrowded bubble that believes it's the heart of the country, crowded with subcultures that imagine they're creative and unique when they're actually just the dilettante sons and daughters of the old elite, with migrant criminals to do the dirty work and an infrastructure and traffic situation just short of critical.

But Tel Aviv is really just as out of touch with the rest of the country, as America's coastal elites. The tantrums being thrown in the streets are just another example of that. In a country where many children go to bed hungry, and others expect to run to bomb shelters in the middle of the night, the antics of the spoiled brats waving their Keffiyahs and strumming their guitars appear pathetic and disgusting.

Much of the country does have a bone to pick with the government. With every government. But the left's attempt to manufacture its own version of the Arab Spring isn't about economics, it's about politics.

Kadima and Meretz can't win on appeasing terrorists, but this is their shot at riding popular discontent to the top. Pity for them that Israel has elections. And no amount of chanting in Tel Aviv will convince the army to stick Netanyahu in a cage. The left can take another swing, and maybe score a few runs on social issues, but the average Israeli isn't stupid enough to think that voting left will mean any benefits without Protektsia. And the chief beneficiaries of Protektsia are the sons of the old families throwing their Tel Aviv tantrums.

Most Israelis like their protests. Like Italy, Greece and the rest of the Med-- a round of protests is good popular entertainment. But the ubiquity of the Israeli protest only highlights its ineffectiveness. A 100,000 strong protest in a vast country like the United States is notable. A 100,000 man protest in a small country like Israel is just another week. Protests don't get results, they discharge anger and tension. They remind the government and everyone else that here are people who don't like the way things are and want a change.

But what does the left really want to change about Israel? It wants to roll back the calendar to 1943 when their institutions were dominant, and the Jews of Europe were being turned into Weizmann's dust on the wheels of history courtesy of the Nazi gas chamber. Before the country was overrun by Mizrahi and Russians, and the Nationalist Right was rotting in British prisons. When Israel was on the verge of being swept into another Arab kingdom, to flicker as a small candle of industry at the service of another backward state.

That would be madness, but madness is the only thing that the left has to offer anymore. Combined with ignorance, self-pity and outrage for the sake of outrage. If the Old Left and the New Left had ideas, the New New Left is nothing but brats with degrees in journalism and EU grants to undermine their own country. The truly successful variety move to Europe or America, where they use their background of entitlement and complete lack of manners to fit in perfectly with the domestic left.

Even more desperate tent city protesters
Some of these brats have already washed up on American shores. Rahm Emanuel and Jeremy Ben Ami are prime examples of the breed. Smart enough to do the bidding of their betters with an eye to their own careers. And though the Tel Aviv protesters may seem stupid and may even be so-- their protests are also a form of careerism. If they make enough noise and get their names in the paper, they may find jobs as poets, musicians, novelists or professional activists. Enough noise may get them into a party that may get them into the Knesset. And then they'll never have to work again.

That is the trajectory of the Israeli left, which has gone from the fields of the Kibbutz to lazing about in tent cities because real estate prices in one of the most overcrowded cities in the world aren't to their liking.

The Israeli left has become a movement of dilettantes, of losers who will turn traitor for a few Euros and 15 minutes of fame. Its great dream is to move to Paris or London and crank out anti-Israel articles for the Guardian. It has no compass and no shame. It confuses its vulgarity with cleverness and its drug fueled sentimentality with ideals. It began in the factories and the fields, it ends now in a vulgar political ploy of tent cities set up by the lazy sons of the rich. The Tel Aviv protests are not the revival of the left, they are its death.

19 comments:

mindRider said...

For a moment not taking the political part of the demonstrations in consideration.....the cost of living prices are ridiculously high in Israel and if the protesters could get the government to break the very obvious cartels & price fixings they would help the system of free competition. This might not get the rental price for apartments in TA down but would help the really over burdened middle class. Of course the problem of having to sustain a water-headed but regrettably necessary security apparatus, even with American aid, is a financial hassle that has burdened the country's tax system and with it the prices for consumer goods since it's re-birth.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

the cartels are the government

putting Kadima in power would only make that worse

the problem is the system is corrupt and always has been, I don't see an easy fix for that

Yisrael said...

The continuing over inflated bureaucratic government can not be corrected till a the issue is make public by any and all civil means. This is really the best way and we should look at this. It is an opportunity to see if BB can refocus and do what is needed. We need building without corruption and lots of it. sSupply increases will lower the price of housing all over the country. T.A. has very little land to build on. So reality says that building will be in the outlying areas. Overall the consumer price index is out of control and needs some big guns to get the monopoly game under control. These demonstrations are not just in T.A. but rather in most cities. People are demanding a real move toward a democracy with elected representation not party line socialism. I for one think this can be a very defining moment for the future of Israel and the Israeli people. It would be better to write about what is possible because of these demonstration and not focus on the negative politics that is really unrelated to the real issue's. Israeli's finally protesting that which is most important. The fact that the government has take up this discussion so quickly speaks well of our Jewish civility and respect for democratic order. G-D forbid that we deal with thing the way our neighbors or Londoner's have chose. We have taken this opportunity to show the world what Israel really stands for and how the Jewish people behave in these situations. We should speak with pride about who and what we are and how we handle ""Social Justice" issue's.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

It's not a defining moment, it's a circus run by the left for its own agenda.

It won't bring reform, no popular protests can do that in a system run a small clique. Especially when that same clique is behind the protests.

mindRider said...

Do understand me well, I do not in any manner advocate Kadima or lefter G'd forbid, but where do you get the info that the present government is or favours cartels. The building scandals and corruption affected Sharon and Olmert(previous govrnments? So far no Nethanyahu implications in any of this.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I didn't say Netanyahu was affected, but the crony capitalism is still there. It would be worse under K.

Philadelphia Jewish Culture Examiner (Adam Taxin) said...

Great article, but, as a theater reviewer, I must take you to task for your use of the very specific theatrical term "farce." You make no insinuations involving slamming doors, far-fetched situations, sexual innuendo or physical humor.

Anyhow, I'm trying to build your readership among my base within the Philadelphia Jewish community. Here's the link to my teaser about this piece: http://www.examiner.com/jewish-culture-in-philadelphia/greenfield-mocks-out-of-touch-leftists-at-protests-over-housing-tel-aviv

Anonymous said...

Some more students for a PhD at some marxist university in moscow or anywhere else in europe.

And I hope that the rest of the Jews in Israel (but also in the rest of the world) have not forgotten their history and given up their unique free spirit and independent mentality in "favor" of leftist "assistance".

Fed.

Anonymous said...

I'm by far not a fan of the political class in general, included the center and the right.
But according to me this post-modern left is the ugliest and most rotten political worm ever seen in human history. It smells like a dead corpse. The way it sucks up on its victims like a leech is nauseous and morally abhorrent. They don't feel any remorse for slowly devouring, eroding and finally killing in a slow painful death their own same people. Their thirst for power, hidden behind the mask or redistributing power to the same people they ruin like a metastatic cancer, is enormous. In italy they own everything, from media to judiciary to university down to state schools. In europe, the same. They have reduced the people into chronic dependence on state welfare. People are loosing morality, individual freedoms and mental capacities. I might "sound" like Breivik, but will never turn to the hideous violent methods of the left that he finally applied.
Furthermore, in italy the catholic religion has blended greatly with the post-modern left, leading to the nasty mix called catto-communism.


I hope that Jews will have a more superior stand on this and survive the dangerous left metastasis.

Fed.

Anonymous said...

Sultan, as usual right on the mark!
When you look at the people's comments in the secular Israeli news and see their names there is an amazing social truth: all the left supporters have names of little children: Naftush, Arielush, Tzipile, what is this a society of infantiles who never grew up out of their endearing childhood.
I wonder if the government comes with housing in the Negev, maybe Sderot or Netivot, will they jump on the offer?

Edgar Davidson said...

Having been in Israel for the last three weeks and observed the Rothschild protests and the mass demonstrations at first hand - as well as watching the incredibly biased Israel media - I can confirm that Daneil has got hsi analysis absolutely spot-on here.

Anonymous said...

This writer wants the settlements in the West Bank, Israel to be swamped by Arabs and citizens on army duty for the rest of their lives. Everything that threatens the progress to this future is "leftist" "weak" and so on. If he was living in Israel and had to pay the real price of his vision he might have been more realistic and accurate in his analysis

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Right, because pulling out of Lebanon and Gaza sure ended army duty.

Who's paying the price for that? Gilad Shalit for one. And the citizens of Sderot.

How's that working out for you?

Anonymous said...

Daniel Greenfield,
Gilad Shalit was capturd because Hamas is an inhuman organization not because Israel pulled out of that area. Staying there would have cost us more cases like Shalit without any extra security. I am sorry to tell you that army duty and for considerable period is still on and not likely to be shortened in the near future.
The real threat to Israel is the social gaps and the pervasive feeling that those who shoulder the burden are not counted and do not have representation in this Hardi- Settler- pro rich government.
I read your blog because it is interesting and most of time also informative. In the case of Israel I think that your sources are a bit one-sided.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

So letting Hamas take over Gaza did not take away any security?

And pullouts and appeasements haven't ushered in the utopia without service.

For that matter the Lebanon situation has gotten much worse and much bloodier since Barak's pullout.

Ditto for Gaza. It's almost like the settler bashing thing isn't a solution.

Really settler government? Tell it to the people who can hardly build a outhouse without having the authorities descend on them.

Keli Ata said...

Totally OT and no offense whatsoever but why does it seem that some (many?) people in TA seem to think being Israeli is beneath them?

Basing my reaction strictly on BiBi's appearance on the old PBS TV show The Advocate the second he was described as "an Israeli" he cocked his head to the side and rolled his eyes as if to say, "Oh, puh-lease." Maybe a BiBi-ism but it came across as implying that he can speak with authority on the Middle East because he was an Israeli but his body language gave the impression that being an Israeli was beneath him.


As for the housing situation---if Tel Aviv follows the lead of La La Land in the US wouldn't they move further and further into the forests so to speak? In LA the worst they'll encounter are bears what happens when the people in TA move outward?

Or is TA a great place that too many people are flocking to and simply needs more housing?

Maybe it's better as a resort community.

In any event it sounds terribly complex--right of return, aliyah, immigration control, lack of affordable housing...what a mess.

Anonymous said...

Your logic implies that you need to be in Iran, Lebanon ,Syria and Gaza to secure Israel from all those. Security is more than soldiers and weapons and even Hezbollah knows that the strength of Israel is in its society.
The settler "bashing" is the result of arrogance that was tamed only once by Arik Sharon when he pulled out of Gaza. Everybody knows that Israel cannot control the territories not because the Americans don't want it but because it is bad for Israel.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

You really don't see the difference between securing the 1967 borders and the 1948 borders?

Security is having the high ground and control of unstable areas inside and near your borders.

Soon that's likely to include the Sinai.

But that's crazy talk, of course. The sane thing to do is pull back to the 48 borders and then everything will be fine. Just like it was in 1948.

The less territory Israel has, the more secure it will be. And once Arab snipers are operating in East Jerusalem again-- then the security will be off the charts.

But it will the fault of those damn settlers.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Brother, as an Israeli that is obeserving and taking part in the demostration I have to tell you that you are misreading the situation, it is not even close to what you are describing.
It is not a leftist protest. Its not. If I had to guess I`d say its around 50/50. There is not connection to left or right, its all about the cose of living.

And man, lowering prices by lowaring population density ? Wrong wrong wrong. We have to conserve the small open spaces that we have a make the cities bigger. Whats wrong with high buildingings ? That way we can drop house prices and still stay close to work eliminating some of our horrific traffic.

You know, Im a right winger myself. I have really strong ideas regarding how exactly we should deal with our hostile nighbours but you using this protest to just twist reality isnt adding us alot of respect.

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