Foreign Policy Blogs

There is something Happening in Israel That is Not about the Conflict. Did You Hear?

Israel’s periphery has rarely had a large voice in Israeli politics. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv make the noise; those in the north and the south typically just keep their heads down and try and go about their business. But today, a hundred thousand people throughout Israel’s periphery marched in solidarity with the current protests that have been raging throughout Tel Aviv all summer. That would be about the equivalent of a million people suddenly taking to the streets throughout Oklahoma, Kansas and the Dakotas.

Wait, what’s that you said? No not about the periphery or Oklahoma. There have been protests raging throughout Tel Aviv throughout the summer?!?! But I watch CNN everyday and I read the paper. I even follow the news online and I had no idea that something was happening in Israel, at least not something outside the norm of what is always happening in Israel.

That’s right, you heard it here first. Throughout the summer there has been a continuous “tent city” throughout the streets of Tel Aviv. People have literally been camping in the squares and thoroughfares of the city. They are there to protest the unbearably high cost of living and their continued inability to make ends meet in their beachfront city. But this is the not the story about which I currently write.

The story of note is that it is possible to watch the news every day, read the paper, and to still not know that something of this magnitude is currently going on in a country that typically lives under a massive microscope, it’s every move noticed, discussed and debated. What is happening in Israel right now is truly massive. Hundreds of thousands of people have been taking to the streets repeatedly for months. And no one in America cares.

This past week, Rick Perry, a serious contender for the Republican nomination, said that his faith requires him to support Israel. Glenn Beck is about to hold a rally in Jerusalem for his faithful fans. The goal is to show that Americans stand by and support Israel, no matter what it is facing. It is clearly a country near and dear to the American public’s heart. And yet still people are unaware of what is currently going on throughout the country.

Why is that? Israel spends an (obscenely?) inordinate amount of time in the press. The state cannot take a cigarette break without those on the left, and the right, discussing what it means for the region. And yet there are unprecedented events currently overtaking Israel and people are not even aware.

It is a foregone conclusion that Americans are interested in Israel. Name another conflict in the world, even several in which the American military are currently involved, that is so well understood by the American public. Ethnic cleansing in Cyprus, genocide in Rwanda, civil war in Sri Lanka, okay, okay. But we want to hear about Israel.

Is it possible that Americans, on the right and the left, aren’t actually interested in Israel at all, and only in the conflict? Israel has many components outside of its conflict with the Palestinians. It is a significant center for hi-tech, it has a vibrant arts scene, it has raves on the beach and grows watermelons in the desert. And yet for all the time that Israel spends in the mainstream press, (right and left) we hear about none of it. It makes sense that CNN does not cover every softball game and picnic throughout Israel, but the lack of coverage on the current “tent city” has been staggering. The current situation may very well be a coalition destroyer. It could literally change our relationship with the state for years to come. And suddenly, nobody cares. If only those hundreds of thousands of protesters could hold up some signs about the Palestinians, maybe they could help out CNN with their ratings. In the meantime, did you hear about Charlie Sheen? I heard he went somewhere and said something. It was crazy!!!

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  • Lonny Moses

    Couldn’t agree more. I actually wrote an e-mail to democracy now two weeks ago telling them that they had until the end of the week to run a story about the tent protests or lose my viewership. They eventually ran the piece, but now they’re back to running stories about the conflict. And mind you – only the parts where Israel is aggressive.

  • Reality Check

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/04/tel-aviv-tent-city-protesters

    Those who would find their way to your post have probably heard about this already through CNN, The Guardian, NY Times, etc.

    Arguments are fine, but don’t claim to be the source of knowledge

  • Mommy

    I just found out about the protests from cousin David who called from Israel this past week. He sayals things aré rally bad. Why wouldn’t life there be expensive with all the money they spend on defense? Sort of like our country! Keep the writing gong! Love