The latest fashion in Israel is to brandish the threat of Tahrir Square. Are the emergency rooms overcrowded? Do the banks charge astronomical fees? Were the prices of water and gas raised? Is the real estate market in a frenzy? Have costumes become more expensive? Just wait, in the end people will take to the city square here, too.
But not to worry. The entire Israeli middle class - from the weak tail that has difficulty making ends meet to its crazy head, which is willing to pay NIS 13 in order to bite into a small slice of pita with chocolate spread "for the concept" - won't rebel. Although it is not satisfied, it has no idea what it wants in place of what it has now, the cause of its dissatisfaction.
The Israeli bourgeoisie is not rebelling. It is affronted. By the salaries of senior executives, by the villa of Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant, by the grand piano of Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the Akirov Towers, by the junkets of Ehud Olmert, by the acquisitions of business mogul Nochi Dankner, by the good life of billionaire Shari Arison, by the power of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to appoint ambassadors - in short, by anything that someone else has received, and they haven't.
How can we know that it's a matter of affront rather than hardship? Because according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the situation of the middle class has improved in recent years. Evidence of that is the turnover in new cars and electric appliances, the grabbing up of new apartments (on paper! ) in the center of the country and the crowding at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and at restaurants and shops.
Although government expenditures have shrunk and privatized services are limping, the bourgeois have become accustomed to purchasing private education, health and nursing care, and have even enjoyed the image of the presumably-wealthy that these grant them. Most believe that the present economic system is a dizzying success. What do you want, they mockingly ask critics of the system, to return to the Bolshevism of Labor Party forebear Mapai?
Nor is the middle class complaining about hardship. In any case, not about hardship similar to that of the lowest deciles, from which it makes a great effort to separate itself and makes sure to pity, if at all, by means of a donation to one of 30,000 non-profit organizations in the voluntary sector. They are only very angry that others (Who are they? Where did they come from? The bourgeoisie was here before them! ) have much more.
As in the song by Yehuda Poliker, the middle class in Israel wants also wants "everything, the best, the most," just like those others - and to hell with everyone else. For decades it has been supporting centrist parties with vague platforms, which support the neo-liberal order and sweeping privatization in every area, and that avoid any commitment to equality, freedom from religion, peace and civil rights. And it goes crazy only when it suffers from inconvenience: parents' school fees, an overly long wait for a medical examination, bureaucracy that delays the construction of the pergola on the roof.
The middle class is not exercised by the exclusion of Arabs or racist legislation; what bugs it are the strikes by social workers and doctors. Nor does it care that rabbinical court judges abuse women or converts; the settlements don't bother it; and the occupation? Spare the cliches. It's been known for a long time that there's no partner on the other side, so what can we do?
In general, don't bother it with politics. Politics is a despicable matter. It's much more comfortable to talk about "motherhood and apple pie": a core curriculum for the ultra-Orthodox, for example. Oh yes, and the salaries of senior executives. A scandal.
The affronted don't look down or to the sides, nor at themselves and their responsibility for the profound and destructive changes taking place here. They refuse to see the link between the government's policies in all areas and the fact that Israel is turning into a reclusive and panicky country, whose investors gather mainly around the flickering screens in the stock market and whose technological and scientific achievements are shrinking, and they don't see the connection between the unbridled increase in wealth, the destructive disparities and the elimination of the public sector on the one hand, and the collapse of society and the strengthening of its fascist tendencies on the other.
They prefer to look only upward and to see only what they lack, and to direct their energy to hating those who "took things away from them." But as long as they do so, and they prefer political parties and candidates who reflect their private complaints just as they flee as if from fire from nonpopulist and courageous political opinions, they are doomed to go around in circles, from one political fashion to another, and to continue being affronted.
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