Israel's Cottage Cheese Protest Is Anything but Civil Revolt

The cottage cheese protest does not signify the start of a civil revolt, nor of just plain protest, because there is no desire for action at its base but rather a desire for nonaction.

Why cottage cheese? Because protest on that issue is always passive. The required action is nonaction. The consumer will go to the supermarket and not buy cottage cheese. The no trumps the yes. Nonaction is the essence of the action. Avoidance as protest.

Of course the refraining is experienced as an action - otherwise no pleasure would be produced. A description of the action: A person sits at home, at a computer, under an air conditioner, and presses "Like" on the Facebook page. The pleasure is produced by the reporting of the protest, not by the protest itself. The boundaries of Israeli protest: A finger moved from up to down, a distance of five centimeters and an official declaration of support for a protest. Protest PR.

The cottage cheese protest does not signify the start of a civil revolt, nor of just plain protest, because there is no desire for action at its base but rather a desire for nonaction. And the desire for nonaction is what engenders one protest and not another. That is, protest against more dire injustices, which require active and committed participation not conducted via a computer but rather on the ground, in the sun, over time - and instances like that have not been chosen to stand at the center of a protest. This is not by chance.

The choice of cottage cheese is the embodiment of convenience, both in essence and in form. In essence, because it is easier to recruit anger and protest in order to make our own personal situation better than it is to recruit a similar amount of dissatisfaction for the benefit of the "other." And in form, because pressing the "Like" button on Facebook does not require real effort, nor does giving up cottage cheese in favor of Bulgarian cheese, which happens to be on sale that same day.

Ultimately, the cottage cheese protest embodies fatigue more than the spirit of battle. The fatigue is a sad version of indifference. Its origin is in the clash between two moods: satiation and despair. The satiation has to do with the bourgeoisie's reasonable socioeconomic situation, which is not letting it "raise a hand" against the regime because of the fear of a change in the social hierarchy. The despair has to do with the sense that order has been undermined, and the individual has become secondary to a blind global money machine.

For example, on the cottage cheese carton it says "Tnuva" and not "Apax Partners." Why is this the source of the despair? Because the original concept, Tnuva, contains an historical expectation of a certain patriotic and also economic commitment, but in fact Tnuva is a branch of a money machine called Apax, for whom the cottage cheese is no different from shoes, perfume, a car or an insurance policy and Israelis are no different from Englishmen, Frenchmen or Chinamen. The despair, then, is an outcome of the privatization of identity, of confusion of concepts and especially the noninternalization of the state having become another economic organization, devoid of special commitment to the inhabitants themselves.

The average of satiation and despair distorts protest. Like every average, the actions that characterize it do not represent the extremes on either side, rather the agreement reached between them. The cottage cheese protest is an internal agreement between the public and itself, between its satiation and its despair, and therefore the nature of the chosen action is passivity and avoidance. This is in contrast to protest that is not distorted - active protest, in which the middle is the end of a painful dialectic between the public and the regime. This is achieved only after a difficult and bloody struggle, which at a certain stage becomes a wound wanting to heal.

On the way home, in the ATV in a traffic jam, after having bought Bulgarian instead of cottage cheese, the privatized citizen presses Like on the iPhone and feels like a partner in the revolution. This is not protest. This is an insurance policy for the continuation of the system. Any system.