Israel's “Real Estate Revolution” Is Not About Justice or Peace
By Gilad Atzmon
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 9, 2011
Gilad Atzmon argues that in contrast to the political and social awakening sweeping the Arab world, the protests in Israel are not about politics, justice or peace, and all the protestors want is “to have property, a house of their own. They want to be landlords. They want the key, and they want it now.”
It is almost amusing to discover that some of the most clichÃ©d Marxists around are so taken in by the current Israeli popular protests, which they foolishly interpret as a manifestation of the “Israeli revolutionary spirit”. They are convinced that now that the Israeli “working class” are rising, peace will inevitably prevail.
Yet, in fact, what we are really seeing unfold in Israel (at least for the time being) is the total opposite of a “working class” awakening. Indeed, some in Israel are calling it the “Real Estate Protest” because, basically, what the protestors are seeking are assets: they all wish to have property, a house of their own. They want to be landlords. They want the key, and they want it now. What we see in Tel Aviv has no similarity whatsoever to the struggles taking place in Cairo’s Al-Tahrir Square or in Athens. At the most, the Israeli demonstrations are mimicking some manifestations of a struggle for justice or socialist protest.
But that is where the similarities end.
”Let’s forget about Palestine and concentrate on us, the Jews”
Motti Ashkenazi, a legendary Israeli anti-establishment figure, wrote in the Israeli news website Ynet that “another left is needed [in Israel], a left that is primarily concerned with the poor of its country rather than with the plight of our neighbours”.
“...the Israelis took to the street ... do not care much about politics, ethics, or social awareness, and neither do they seem to care much about the war crimes they are collectively complicit in. Malnutrition in Gaza is really not their concern either. They seem not to care about anything much at all, except themselves becoming property owners.”
In clear terms that cannot be interpreted otherwise, Motti Ashkenazi is exploring what he considers to be a necessary shift in Israeli “progressive” thought, and what he appears to conclude is this: forget about Palestine; let’s once and for all concentrate on “us”, the Jews. Ashkenazi continues: “We need another left, a modest one. Instead of a vision for the entire Middle East, it had better present a vision of the state of Israel.”
Professor Nissim Calderon, a lecturer in Hebrew literature, also presents a similar line: “We have erected a left that has been focusing on the fight for peace, and peace only. But there is a huge hole in our struggle – we failed to struggle for social justice.” Again, “lefty” Calderon refers to the social struggle within the Israeli Jewish population.
The mass protest in Israel is, in fact, the complete opposite of a genuine social revolution: while it may present itself as a popular protest, in practice, it is a “populist festival”. According to reports from Israel, the leaders of the emerging protest are even reluctant to call for Binyamin Netanyahu’s resignation. The same applies to security matters, the occupation and the defence budget: the organizers wouldn’t touch these subjects in order not to split their rapidly growing support.
Relocating “The Jewish Question” to Palestine
What we see in Israel is neither a socialist revolution nor a struggle for justice. It is actually a bourgeois wannabe revolution, and the Israelis took to the street because each of them wants to be a landlord, to own a property. They do not care much about politics, ethics, or social awareness, and neither do they seem to care much about the war crimes they are collectively complicit in. Malnutrition in Gaza is really not their concern either. They seem not to care about anything much at all, except themselves becoming property owners.
But why do they want to own a property? Because they cannot really rent one. And why can’t they rent? It is obviously far too expensive. But why is it too expensive? Because Israel is the ultimate embodiment of a corrupted, hard speculative, capitalist society. And I guess that this is the real untold story here. If Zionism was an attempt to solve “The Jewish Question”, as the author Shahid Alam so insightfully explores, it has clearly failed since it has only managed to relocate “The Jewish Question” to a new place, Palestine.
Zionism promised to bring about a new productive and ethical Jew as opposed to what it defined as the “Jewish Diaspora speculative capitalist”.1 It clearly failed, and the truth of the matter is that, in the Jewish state, Israeli Jews are now being subjected to the symptoms of their own very problematic culture.2
Haven of corruption and money laundering
“Israel seems to be nothing more than a vast money-laundering haven for Jewish oligarchs, swindlers, weapons dealers, organ traffickers, organized crime and blood-diamond traders.”
Israel has become a haven for the richest and most corrupted Jews from around the world: According to the Guardian, “out of the seven oligarchs who controlled 50 per cent of Russia’s economy during the 1990s, six were Jewish”. During the last two decades, many Russian oligarchs have acquired Israeli citizenship. They also secured their dirty money by investing in the Blue and White financial haven.
WikiLeaks revealed lately that “sources in the [Israeli] police estimate that Russian organized crime [the Russian mafia] has laundered as much as 10 billion US dollars through Israeli holdings".3 Mega-swindlers such as Bernie Madoff have been channelling their money via Zionists and Israeli institutions for decades. Israel is also a leading trader in blood diamonds. Far from surprising, Israel is also the fourth biggest weapon dealer on the planet. Clearly, blood diamonds and guns are proving to be a great match. And it doesn’t stop there. Every so often Israel is caught engaging in organ trafficking and .
Increasingly, Israel seems to be nothing more than a vast money-laundering haven for Jewish oligarchs, swindlers, weapons dealers, organ traffickers, organized crime and blood-diamond traders. But on top of that, rich Jews buy their holiday homes in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: there are reports that, in Tel Aviv alone, thousands of holiday properties are empty, all year round, while native Israelis cannot find a roof.
The Israeli people have yet to understand their role within this horror show. They have yet to grasp that they are nothing but the foot soldiers in this increasingly horrendous scenario. They do not even gather that their state maintains one of the world’s strongest armies, to defend the assets of just a few of the wealthiest and most immoral Jews around.
I actually wonder whether Israelis can grasp it all. Yet the truth of the matter is that the leaders of the present Israeli “real estate revolution” want to maintain the struggle as a material-seeking adventure, and they are clearly avoiding politics. The driving sentiment and motivation here is, obviously: “give us the keys to our new homes and we clear the square”.
It is not surprising that within such an inherently greedy and racially-oriented society, the dissent that is currently manifesting itself in Israel will inevitably be reduced to sheer banal materialism.
It seems the Israelis cannot rescue themselves from their own doomed fate because they are blindly hijacked by their own destructive culture. As I a few others have been predicting for a decade or more, Israeli society is about to implode. It is really just a question of time.
1. Marxist Zionist Ber Borochov (1881-1917) argued that the class structure of European Jewry resembled an inverted “class-pyramid”, a structure in which a relatively small number of Jews occupied roles within the “productive layers” of society as workers, while a significant number were settled in capitalist and speculative trades such as banking.
2. Beni Ziper wrote in Haaretz: “I saw on television people shouting against the rich, or tycoons who control the country. Seemingly everyone thinks it's exciting and daring and nobody reflects on the chilling historical equivalence with the depression in Germany at the time of the Weimar Republic, when the ‘rich Jews who control us’ were targeted by everyone.” Ziper is clever enough to notice a close and disturbing repetition in Jewish history. However, Ziper is also very critical of his countrymen. “So I'm all for protests against the state, but in no way against people or groups of people, be they ‘rich’ or ‘[Jewish] Orthodox’ or even ‘settlers’. Whoever gives privileges to the settlers in this country. and it's not that the settlers come and rob the cashier at gunpoint.” Whether we agree with Ziper or not, it is clear that he also admits that there is a similarity between the arguments voiced in Israel against the rich, and the German right wing's anti Semitic attitude towards Jews in the 1920s and 1930s
I like much of what Gilad Atzmon writes; however, I don't entirely agree with the above. I believe that there are elements within the protest group who want to build some momentum before re-discussing the Zionist Project's unfair treatment of the Palestinians. I don't say they are large in number, but I do say they are there.
I've seen their sentiments discussed on the Internet. There are what are called "good Jews." Gilad Atzmon doesn't believe in that. I understand why he feels the way he does. He is a former Jew or ex-Jew. We use a slightly different definition of Jew. We are both anti-Zionists. Anders Behring Breivik the Zionist wants us both dead (and Jesus Christ too, since Jesus is the leading anti-Zionist).