This past summer hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets demanding social justice. While the Palestinian citizens of Israel were minimally present, and issues related to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza almost completely absent, the protests have nevertheless put social justice on the agenda, if not yet social justice for all. Given Israel’s uneasy position within the Middle East, it is interesting to look at this protest in the context of the Arab Spring.
The protest began when several young people set up tents in central Tel Aviv in protest at the high cost of housing. The initiative quickly gained momentum: hundreds of people joined this first tent encampment and similar tent camps sprang up in dozens of other cities throughout Israel. The subject of the protest also expanded to a broader call for social and economic policies that respond to the hardships of the lower and middle class in various spheres: high prices, low wages, poor quality of infrastructure, healthcare, education and other government services, privatization and tax reform, to name just a few of the issues raised.