What News Should Be
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What News Should Be

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Protest seeking economic justice for a change

Aug 1 2011

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It was encouraging to see a report in today’s New York Times of large numbers of people protesting for economic and “social justice”.  Excerpts of the article appear below in italics like this.

This is in big contrast to the recent demands for “democracy” of the ‘Arab Spring’ protesters[1]– presumably of a similarly meaningless type like we’ve got in the U.S. with just 2 identical warmongering parties serving the rich to choose from[2], as they were trained in the art of protest by the U.S. State Department and other corporate sponsors.[3]

It’s also in sharp contrast to the protests for the imposition of Islamic Sharia law in Egypt  – see 2 pieces from the Times’ last week[4] one of which contains this protester’s quote:

“If democracy is the voice of the majority and we as Islamists are the majority, why do they want to impose on us the views of minorities — the liberals and the secularists [the non-religious]?” asked Mahmoud Nadi, 26, a student. “That’s all I want to know.”

demonstrating another reason why “democracy” should not be the goal.  The goal should be a global economic system geared only to the service of humanity’s needs (see the most pressing ones on the front page of this website to start with), rather than towards private profit and certainly without regard to humanity’s religious creed, race, sex, etc.

It’s also about an economic protest which was not marred by any violent provocateurs as has most likely been the case with the Greek “Syntagma” protests. [5]

And now, excerpts from today’s New York Times’ article entitled “Israelis Feel Tug of Protests, Reviving the Left’s Spirits”

“. . . the rise of a huge protest movement over the cost of living and the sense that, despite soaring national wealth, the paycheck of the average Israeli does not cover family expenses. What started as a modest Facebook-driven protest by young people over housing prices has mushroomed into what many analysts suspect could be one of the more significant political developments here in years — and a possible opening for the defeated left.

On Saturday night, 150,000 people took to the streets across the country demanding “social justice,” one of the biggest demonstrations in Israel’s history and its largest protest ever over social and economic issues. . . .

“We’d been accustomed to believe that everything that mattered was about security,” Anat Ben-Simon, a Jerusalem psychologist, said in an interview. “All other issues had to wait. And we were constantly on the verge of some solution. But now there is nothing on the horizon, it’s pretty quiet on the security front and people got sick and tired of waiting. Meanwhile Israel became insanely expensive with a handful of families controlling everything.”

Daniel Doron, director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress, a pro-market research institution, agreed. “Monopolies and cartels dominate every sphere of life here,” he said. “After years of being exploited the Israeli consumer is waking up. There is a widespread feeling that people simply can’t hack it.”

Mr. Netanyahu quickly grasped the significance of the protests and, canceling a trip abroad, issued directives and plans to ease the burden on consumers. He has proposed new rules to make housing more affordable and has frozen gasoline prices, while his public responses have been dominated by bold talk of ending monopolies and sympathy for the demonstrators. On Sunday, the director general of the finance minister resigned as a result of the protests.

But Mr. Netanyahu may not have sidestepped the political risk. One of the most debated questions is whether the movement is creating an opening for the country’s battered and dormant political left to challenge his leadership. Many think the answer is yes but only if it stays focused on social and economic issues and avoids the geopolitical and security ones where its views are in the minority.

Last week, the powerful Histadrut labor federation announced its strong support for the protests.

“The left has risen back to life,” Shai Golden, deputy editor of the newspaper Maariv, said in a column on Sunday. . . .

The left today hopes to revive itself with similar plans. The mayor of Beersheba, Ruvik Danilovich, who is an independent with roots in Labor, said in an interview in Maariv on Sunday that the theme of the new movement is “social justice, meaning a change in priorities.” He listed education, health care and affordable housing. He added of the Saturday night protest, “This was a landmark event. The norms that have been accepted in the past will not be in the future.”

The left hopes that in the coming year or two it could sweep back to power through a focus on social issues and then, in the bargain, shift the country’s external policy. The left would heavily curtail settlement building in the West Bank and has shown greater willingness to yield territory to the Palestinians and to share Jerusalem in a two-state solution.

The Times’ quoted a radio show host to downplay any significance of this protest:

Others are skeptical. Yaron Deckel, the host of a popular morning radio discussion program, said in an interview that while he was amazed at the size of Saturday’s demonstration and the participation of people between ages 25 and 40, the talk of some new revolutionary era was ill-informed.

“There is more atmosphere than substance to the movement,” he said. “It’s summer, the kids are on holiday, you live in a tent, it’s fun. The demonstrations are not very focused. They are for a higher standard of living. Fine. But there is no danger to this government.”

You can read the entire article here:


  1. [1]See for example Nada Matta’s article entitled The Egyptian Uprising and Workers’ Grievances which indicates that:

    “Though the revolt was caused by increasing economic hardship and insecurity, as well as by mounting political repression and authoritarianism, the demands of its youth organizers were solely focused on political democracy. The economic and social justice campaigns that in part laid the groundwork for this revolt over the past few years (with 3,000 workers protests and strikes since 2004)[1] have as yet to take centre stage politically in this mass upheaval.”

  2. [2] http://gowans.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/obama-better-than-bush-yes-but-for-who/
  3. [3]U.S.-Financed Groups Had Supporting Role in Arab Uprisings” front page of  New York Times at  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html;

    “U.S. Provides Secret Backing to Syrian Opposition” front page of Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/us-secretly-backed-syrian-opposition-groups-cables-released-by-wikileaks-show/2011/04/14/AF1p9hwD_story.html;

    And see also my comment to Nada Matta’s article which I entitled “Why Youth Leaders Not Making Worker/Economic Demands?” speculating  about the possible influence such U.S. government and corporate sponsored training of the protesters might reflect at the end of the page here: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-egyptian-uprising-and-workers-grievances-by-nada-matta#

  4. [4]See this link:


    which reads in part:

    As my colleague Anthony Shadid reports, tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Tahrir Square on Friday for a day that had been billed as one of unified protest against the interim military government. But the turnout was lopsided, dominated by members of religious movements, ranging from the most conservative, the Salafists, to the relatively moderate Muslim Brotherhood.

    According to The Associated Press, instead of chanting “The people want to topple the regime,” a slogan heard at protests across the Arab world this year, from Tahrir Square to Tunisia, demonstrators called out, “The people want to implement Sharia,” a strict code of Islamic law.

    and this link http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/world/middleeast/30egypt.html?hp which included the protester’s quote above and also reads in part:

    Crowds played on slogans made popular during the epic protests that culminated in February. Heard often back then was a cry that soon became famous: “Hold your head up high, you’re Egyptian.” On Friday, “Muslim” was substituted for “Egyptian.” The chant that became the revolution’s anthem, “The people want to topple the regime,” changed on Friday to “The people want to apply God’s law.” The crowd itself seemed buoyed by the impressive show.

  5. [5]“Anyone, who has been watching live feed and following this story since the real protesters or “Indignants,” took over Syntagma Square, would know that the “hooded youths” as they are called, the ones wearing gas masks, carrying large sticks, and throwing molotov cocktails, have destroyed a genuine, grassroots, democratic movement. The only time they showed up was on June 15, yesterday, and today, all days during which, I believe, there were general strikes, and all days on which massive demonstrations were planned. The result of their antics was that the whole Syntagma Square became emptied of genuine protesters. Curiously the hundreds or thousands of police chose to only make few arrests. Instead, they threw tear gas, in amounts great enough to cause all in the area to flee. Mission accomplished by whoever did not want protesters there. These hooded youth cannot be characterized as protesters, anymore than looters during a blackout are protesters.”

    A New York Times reader’s comment posted to the New York Times website article: “Greece Approves Tough Measures on Economy – Readers’ Comments – NYTimes.com, Address:


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