Sidelining Social Justice

Here, they don't suppress demonstrations. They only grip them in a firm embrace, and then gently, with tears in their eyes, strangle them.

Moshe Silman will not be participating in the upcoming protest, but his spirit will be hovering over it. And thus social justice, which was first perceived as a happy summer camp, is now etched in our consciousness in fire and blood, as a matter of life and death.

Among the Arab population there are many small, independent businessmen - the kind from whose ranks Silman was ejected. Those who have to lower their prices because competition is fierce; who spend at least four hours a day on the roads traveling to Tel Aviv because there's a dearth of jobs in the north. Those who on the 10th of the month drive themselves crazy over how to pay their employees' salaries, and on the 15th go to plead in the bank.

These independent businessmen, who bear the burden of building the country, are forced to give up the fruits of their labor by contracting out their services to larger companies that retain a considerable share of the profit. And at the end of the day, and in increasing numbers, these small businesses don't receive what they're entitled to due to the bankruptcies of the large companies, and become prey to lenders in the black market.

Israeli absurdity is rampant: Senior officials, who are defined as salaried workers, set up companies to contain the millions they are paid to avoid paying taxes as they should, while the "capitalists," the small independent businessmen, are hounded by the tax authorities and by creditors.

With a sympathetic smile, the government pays millions to those evacuated from the illegal outpost of Migron - a reward for the fraud with which they took over Arab land, and at the same time impoverished families are evacuated from their apartments because they are in arrears in their mortgage payments. And while the salaries of junior academic faculty are being abused, NIS 50 million is poured into Ariel University Center in the West Bank, in contradiction to any proper administration.

The social-justice protest planted a seed of hope in the hearts of these deprived people, but since the end of the first step, last summer, an ill wind has been blowing across the country. It's as though the moment of pleasure we experienced had to be erased immediately, because leaving the suffocating security-diplomatic bunker even once is one time too many. And so many people worked hard to get rid of the new baby. After all, who wants a child who questions the consensus?

Here, as opposed to totalitarian countries, they don't suppress demonstrations. Theya only grip them in a firm embrace, and then gently, with tears in their eyes, strangle them. And meanwhile they start bluffing: One day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established the Trajtenberg committee to propose solutions to Israel's socioeconomic problems, and the next day he switched to a policy of divide and conquer - Arabs against Jews, ultra-Orthodox against the secular public. And in that way the issue of social justice was replaced with the unequal burden of military service - congratulations!

The burden celebrations caused many people - for whom the social-justice protest was a balm and a hope - to feel terribly lonely. The television channels that had celebrated the birth of justice turned their backs on it, and with great fanfare turned to welcome the burden, which sows hatred. Yair Lapid, the latest star of Israeli politics, who never bothered to ask how the weak were doing, began with a complaint that befits a deceived partner in a profitable company: "Where's the money?" and in his fake enthusiasm forgot to ask about the billions being poured, for no good reason, into the occupied territories. After all, such questions would mark him as a leftist, and that's all the consensus candidate needs.

On the other hand, the disappointed Tzipi Livni, the former leader of Kadima, found her natural place in the divisive camp. This camp included anyone who's anyone in the old Israel - Netanyahu, Livni, Lapid, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, tycoons, generals. The Israel that is concerned only with itself is returning to its old ways, while the Arabs, the ultra-Orthodox and the weaker communities have been marked, in the era of profit and loss, as a burden that we have to get rid of.

Moshe Silman got rid of insensitive Israel in the city square. The fruits of the social-justice protest have yet to bloom. And now a war is being waged over the spirit of society.