The revolutions that have swept the Arab world in recent months have highlighted the Israeli public's political apathy. While our neighbors have taken to the streets and even risked their lives to call for their corrupt regimes' downfall, Israelis have continued with business as usual. Few have protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's failed policies, the diplomatic stalemate, Israel's international isolation or settlement expansion.
But now it turns out that the Israeli public, too, can be stirred, if the catalyst is in the refrigerator. Many people have joined a Facebook protest against the increase in cottage cheese prices. The protest has attracted wide media attention, and the politicians have rushed to join the campaign, each as he sees fit. One wants to punish food manufacturers, another is concerned about jobs, while a third expresses support for free markets. Finally the opposition has found a reason to slam the prime minister, and MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima ) managed a special gimmick in presenting Netanyahu with a carton of cottage cheese in the Knesset.
The cottage cheese protest was preceded by a campaign against an increase in gasoline prices, but consumer protests, for all their importance, just exemplify public apathy on crucial issues that will influence the future much more than the price of cottage cheese. A comment by President Shimon Peres reported in Haaretz on Friday by Yossi Verter should frighten every Israeli: "We're about to crash into the wall. We're galloping at full speed toward a situation where Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state."
Peres is concerned about Netanyahu's refusal to accept U.S. President Barack Obama's formula for resuming talks with the Palestinians and is warning that Israel "will lose the world" if it sticks to its position. It will become a binational state if the stalemate persists.
The warning by Peres, who over the past two years has supported Netanyahu, should reverberate in the ears of every Israeli. Instead of bothering Netanyahu with gimmicks, the opposition should lead the fight to save the country from the disaster it is destined to face due to the prime minister's recalcitrance. Because when we hit the wall, no one will care anymore about the price of cottage cheese.
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