Will the politicization of Israel’s social protests backfire?

Moving in to the Negev

Moving in to the Negev

The participants in the massive social protests which are taking place in Israel might be shooting themselves in the foot by allowing leftist NGO’s to influence, if not take over, the protests.

Right-wing NGOs pulled out of the housing protests because the organizers refused to allow the Hatikva national anthem to be sung.

My Israel offered on Friday to join the protest, on condition that the national anthem would be sung.

The My Israel NGO rescinded its plan to join Saturday night’s mass housing protest, saying the demonstration’s organizers did not respond to a request to sing Hatikva.

My Israel offered on Friday to join the protest, on condition that the national anthem would be sung. However, on Saturday night, it announced that housing protest leader “Daphni Leef’s people evaded and evaded” committing to singing Hatikva at the event in Tel Aviv.

“We are not willing to join a protest that aims for anarchy and pointlessly harming the government ‘because Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] is bad’ and that is lead by anti-IDF and anti-Israel elements. We would be happy to work side by side with leftwing Zionists who support the State of Israel, but think territory should be given up. They are our brothers, even if we disagree with them,” My Israel explained.

On Friday, Ma’ariv columnist Kalman Liebskind listed various leaders of the housing protest and their associations with left-wing organizations and parties, such as Leef, a film editor for the New Israel Fund, Yehudit Ilani of the Balad Party, and Alon Lee Green of the Hadash Party.

If you want to know why the New Israel Fund is such a bogeyman, read some of these reports and be horrified.

Today Ynet has a report (Hebrew only for the moment; I will update with an English report if I find one) that the Ayalim Foundation, a non-political housing and community organization, has withdrawn from the protests due to their politicization:

מאה ועשר משפחות עוברות להתגורר בדימונה, ירוחם ורמת נגב. המעבר מתבצע במסגרת תוכנית להקמת 11 נקודות התיישבות בנגב ובגליל. העמותה שארגנה את ההתיישבות הודיעה כי היא נוטשת את שדרות רוטישלד. “גורמים פוליטיים נכנסו לתמונה -המאבק אינו עוד על שינוי מפת ההתיישבות”

בתוך כך, העמותה הודיעה היום שהיא מפרקת את המאהל שלה בשדרות רוטשילד בתל אביב. “העמותה הצטרפה למאבק מתוך הבנה כי זהו מאבק על מצוקת הדיור ומתוך האמונה כי הפתרון למצוקה זו נמצא בנגב ובגליל”, נמסר. “כעת, כאשר המאבק אינו עוד על שינוי מפת ההתיישבות במדינה וגורמים פוליטיים נכנסו לתמונה, חוזרת העמותה למקומה הטבעי – פעילות עיקשת ליישוב הנגב והגליל, ומקפלת את מאהלה”..


110 families are moving to live in Dimona, Yerucham and Ramat Negev. The move is being carried out via a plan to set up 11 settlement areas in the Negev and Galilee. The foundation that organized this housing announced that it is abandoning the protests in Rothschild Boulevard (Tel Aviv). “Political elements have entered the picture, and the struggle is now not only about housing.”

With all this, the foundation announced that it is dismantling its tent encampment in Rothschild Blvd. in Tel Aviv. “The foundation joined the protests in the understanding that this is a struggle about the housing crisis and in the understanding that the solution to the crisis lies in the Negev and the Galilee. … Now that the fight is not only about changing the housing map in the country and political elements have entered the picture, the foundation is returning to its natural place – intense activity for housing in the Negev and Galilee, and is dismantling its encampment.”

The Yisrael Hayom newspaper has more background on how the left is trying to whip up anti-government fervour, whether through activists at the protests or via the biased news media in the country. (h/t Israel Matzav).

In this atmosphere it is hard to contemplate that the protest organizers would support a call from the settlement movement to contemplate greatly increase building in Judea and Samaria, which of course would help to bring house prices down.

It seems that politics is everything in this country, even if it means biting off your nose to spite your face.  It is a huge shame because the protestors are right in their basic demands for fair house prices and sane levels of rental costs.

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