Tottenham is ablaze. Not for the first time in its history. Not for the first time over police violence and killing either. But nor is this is the first major riot since the Tories took office. It may well be the first to make a serious impact on national politics, but remember the riots in Bristol and Lewisham. The party of order expected this. That is why the police handling of protests has been so provocative and brutal. That is why ‘exemplary’ sentences have been handed out for minor protest offenses, with even Murdoch’s pie-man being given a custodial sentence. The intention has been to show that the party of order can keep control throughout the coming battles. I hope, with every fibre in my being, that they cannot.
- BBC News, “Israelis stage mass protests over rising living costs”
- Jews sans frontieres, “Protests in Israel. Why and how much they matter”
- Lenin’s Tomb, “A few observations on Israel’s protests”
Because in Israel the colonial dynamic still predominates, and because the vast majority of Israeli workers have not begun to break with Zionism, and indeed many could reasonably claim to get some benefit from it, how these social antagonisms and elite fissures work out depends primarily on the regional context. If the Arab Spring continues and radicalises, the weakening of Israel’s position, its usefulness to Washington, and its ability to sustain military policies that sections of its ruling class already find burdensome, then the prospects of major social struggles in Israel are increased. If not, then I suspect the Israeli ruling class can resolve its difficulties at the expense of the Palestinians and take a further lurch down the road to some sort of fascism.
Moreover, the impending United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood in September imposes a deadline of sorts on the protesters. If Palestinians react by marching on Israeli army checkpoints to demand freedom, Israeli protesters will have to choose between losing internal support by siding with the Palestinians, or abandoning any claim of a pro-democracy agenda by siding with the Israeli soldiers charged with suppressing them. Before September comes, the protesters must first secure some more earthly achievements, like rent control in Israel’s larger cities, or perhaps, as the placards demand, even bring down Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition government. Only then could a sense of victory and democratic empowerment propel Israelis toward challenging the occupation, which remains the single greatest obstacle to social and political justice on either side of the Green Line.