Despite billions in US aid to Israel, Israelis suffer from inequality and the rising living costs that have prompted the second mass street protests in weeks.
Press TV has interviewed Stephen Lendman, a writer and radio host about the renewal of the protests in Israel. The show also offers the insights of Ralph Schoenman, the author of The Hidden History of Zionism, and Mofeed Jaber with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Public Relations.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Let's look at some of the complaints of the demonstrators, which is growing - cost of housing, food and education. Why is this such a major problem right now for the Israelis?
It's an extremely major problem. Social protests broke out last summer. They were unprecedented in Israel. What virtually no Americans… I shouldn't say 'no', but very few Americans understand how socially unjust Israel really is.
For Jews, it's been for the last three decades what America was stifling under Reaganomics; in Britain it was plagued by Thatcherism; and then in the 1990s when shock therapy struck the former Soviet Union; and now austerity plagues the West.
The two most unjust Western societies are Britain and America. Israel matches them - extremely socially unjust. Arab citizens 20 percent of the population have no rights whatsoever. But increasingly Jews are denied.
They're denied basic social benefits they used to have decades ago. Neo-Liberal harshness replace them: healthcare, education, affordable housing and affordable food. These things are going by the way side. Protests erupted last summer; they're beginning again this year.
What about that slogan that I mentioned and also Mr. Schoenman mentioned that the protesters are chanting. How significant is that particular slogan that "the only solution to privatization is revolution"? Are we likely to see a growing schism in that society?
I really believe it and I believe that it's happening in the West as well. The slogan of the Occupy Wall Street movement is "the only solution is world revolution". That's exactly right. That's what future trends watcher Gerald Cilente says. He says it's coming, nobody knows when, but angry people will only take so much and then they will erupt.
And the cancer… the cancer of capitalism, predatory capitalism is destroying western societies, it's destroying Israel. The extreme wealth disparities between a tiny elite segment of society in these countries whether we're talking about America, Israel, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain - the same thing. People only take so much before they erupt.
Another thing few people in America understand about Israel is there is a serious hunger problem, there is a homelessness problem, there is a poverty problem and there is an unemployment problem. You say this to American Jews and they'll think that you're nuts; they won't know what you're talking about.
The US media don't say anything about this, but it's a major problem in Israel, it's a major problem in America, it's a major problem across Europe. It's the same thing - predatory neo-capitalism eating the heart out of the majority of people in the country. And they will only take so much before they erupt and when their protests aren't met…
Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, he promised change last year. He made promises, he broke his promises. People understand that. There back again and this thing will rage all summer, I expect a long hot summer and grievances unaddressed… who knows when things will blow up, but we're heading for a major blow up and not just in Israel.
Are you optimistic that the Palestinians and the Israelis can actually come together on this issue and if so let’s look at what the possible response would be from the Tel Aviv regime? … Because we've already seen that in previous demonstrations they came down hard on the protesters... And if this was to escalate and if they were to come together in solidarity, what likely scenario would we witness coming from the Tel Aviv regime?
Well I hope Ralph is right. Honestly I have not seen this myself. True enough the Palestinians that Ralph speaks about who have participated in these protests are Israeli Arabs, Israeli citizens.
Of course, Palestinians in the territories cannot get into Israel so they have part in this. But the numbers of Arab citizens participating are tiny compared to the Jewish participants. So I don’t see a strong connection, a tenuous connection I see.
But I think the issue for Israeli Jews is social inequality aside from the Palestinian issue in resolving justice for Palestinians in the territories and Israeli Arabs, Israeli citizens I see this as light years away. I don’t see Israeli Jews getting that exercised about this - modestly, yes; angrier about injustice affecting them.
And another story that never gets publicity in the West and in America is that there is a lot of Israeli that are very upset and they vote with their feet by leaving. They are leaving Israel. They are fed up with it, they want no more of it and it could be that this exodus will pick up…again, it never gets reported.
But we're many, many years away from the Palestinians and territories getting real help. I write about that all the time. The pressure is horrific, it's unrelenting. I see nothing - no world leaders - nothing coming to their aid. It just continues coming down on them harshly, but I'm doing what I can to spread the word about it. It is absolutely unbearable what they're putting up with.