Hundreds of Israelis have staged demonstrations against the ‘unacceptable’ living conditions and inequality in several cities across the occupied territories.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Mofeed Jaber, with the Center for Mideast Studies and Public Relations to further discuss the issue. The program also provides the opinions of two additional guests: Ralph Schoenman, author of the book ‘The Hidden History of Zionism’ and writer and radio host Stephen Lendman. The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
There would be many people looking at this situation, just listening to Mr. Lendman, and thinking that Tel Aviv gets at least 8.2 million dollars a day from the United States in aid, and many would say a lot more.
So why is it that it seems that they are having a difficult time? Is it mismanagement of the money or is it something else in your perspective?
Well, firstly, the money that Israel gets from the United States, most of it is destined to military expenses and those that do go for economic development, usually only benefit one part of the Israeli society which is, you know, the middle and the upper classes and mostly the Ashkenazis in Israel.
And so while there is some sort of economic development going on with the higher classes and the Ashkenazi Jews for instance, there is a large segment of the Israeli society that does not get to benefit from the economic development of Israel, which the US greatly contributes to.
So you have the Arab-Israeli population for instance, you also have the Haridis or the orthodox or the Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel and you also have the problem of unemployment in Israel and you have a lot of very well-educated youth among the Jews in Israel who do not get.., the employment opportunities in Israel for the youth are scarce and it is from these segments that we are seeing most in the protests.
Do you think that this will be a long, hot summer in Israel? And do you see that this dissatisfaction could actually play even a deeper role in the entity that not only having an effect right now with the policies or with what they are complaining about, but actually making a better connection to what Palestinians go through on a daily basis, because more and more Israelis now are facing housing problems and other economic issues?
Unfortunately the nature of Israeli society is such that the majority of the people are right-wing. As we have seen in the elections, the major three parties that won the majority of the seats in the Knesset [Israeli parliament], are Kadima, which is essentially a right-wing party, Likud, which is a right-wing party and the Yisrael Beitenu, which is a far-right party.
And so while the Israelis are dissatisfied with these housing issues with the rising prices of food items and of housing, they are very unlikely to change the nature of the system in Israel because to them they are just probably more concerned about keeping hold on the land, than with economic problems and so they are more likely to keep the government that is in place because it is more hawkish with regards to the Palestinians.
Even though they have faced all of the same problems, probably much less serious, but you know, they have had a glimpse of what the Palestinians go through, even while they have seen that; they are unlikely to actually sympathies with the Palestinians because as we have seen the protests are largely confined to the Jewish population in Israel and they are just showing their dissatisfaction, but I think it is unlikely that it will ever make a change in the government structure.
Mr. Mofeed Jaber your take on this? Do you see this turning into something even bigger than it has already become? Or do you think that the Tel Aviv regime would come down very hard on the demonstrators if it escalates?
No, I find it highly unlikely. First let me start by saying that the anti-Zionist Movement in Israel is largely confined to Ashkenazi well off educated people who live in Northern Tel Aviv - this is where the anti-Zionist Movement is confined within the Israeli Jewish society, but majority of those who demonstrated for social purposes in Israel are mostly Zionist Jews who belong to the lower echelons of the society.
They may be Ashkenazim, they may be Mizrahim and Sephardim and they have very, very little concern for the Palestinian cause and I find it very unlikely that it will ever turn into, as I said, a change in the government’s structure because if we look at the voting trends in Israel, as I said, Israeli society mostly votes for the right and since the majority of the Israeli society votes either for Likud and Kadima and Yisrael Beitenu, this is the current make of the Israeli government and so it is very unlikely that it will ever cause a change in the government’s structure.