I wonder if all those human rights organizations that have targeted Israel for wrongdoing are reconsideration their priorities. Some have commented about abuses in Syria, but are they confessing their past sins in light of the contrasts north and south of the Syria-Israel border.
 
North of that line, tanks and warships are firing indiscriminately into civilian areas. There is no better example of "state terrorism." The point is to subdue anti-government protests by the weight of firepower that does not distinguish between opponents of the regime, supporters, the indifferent, or children at play. The body count is growing. Details are elusive, given the government''s claim that its opponents are foreign agitators or criminal gangs, and reports about the numbers killed from opponents, some of them safely at a distance. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/world/middleeast/15syria.html?partner=rss&emc=rss


South of the border, there are continued demonstrations. Also a bit of exaggeration as to the numbers. Activists claimed that 15,000 turned out in Beer Sheva, while the police estimate--backed up by a journalist reporting on the most popular channel of Israel Radio--was half that number.

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The protest retains its upper middle class bias. University students, graduates, and young professionals are chanting for social justice. Some of them want less expensive housing and child care for themselves, and some are putting the emphasis on benefits for those lower on the economic scale.


A group of senior academics are now advising the protesters, competing with colleagues who are doing the same for the government. The reputation of those helping protesters is to the left of center, but well within the establishment. One is a former Civil Service Commissioner, another has been mentioned as a candidate for the Supreme Court. The chair of the committee appointed by the Prime Minister went to the tents and met with protesters. The Prime Minister indicated to the police that they should leave the tents in place, even if they do violate some ordinances.


None of this will assure that protesters achieve what they demand. Their list is long and amorphous, and not defined in the specifics needed for public policy.


The economic problems in Europe and the United States will not help. Those are Israel''s major markets for exports, and recessions there will affect employment and tax receipts here. Even the prospects will caution some of those inclined to generosity.


Politics will complicate things. The protesters seem to agree on the need to reallocate resources and change priorities. That means taking away resources going to some sectors and putting them elsewhere. It will not happen smoothly, if at all. Politicians affiliated with the ultra-Orthodox, industries, farmers, unions, and settlers, as well as the senior officers speaking for the military chronically complain that their shares of resources are barely adequate. They are not lining up for an opportunity to give up something for the sake of what other people say is social justice.


Expect continued dispute. Even if there are photos of smiling politicians and protesters meeting and agreeing, there will be others feeling themselves left out. Just yesterday, there was a signing ceremony of education officials and teacher unions about a reform long in the works. It took only a few minutes before teachers unhappy with the arrangement threatened to strike at next month''s opening of the school year. Physicians opposed to their association have stopped what seemed to be a near settlement of a long dispute.


No one on this side of the border contemplated dealing with the protests by means of tanks and warships. Soldiers have protested their own lack of adequate food, time off, and respectful supervision. http://www.blindbatnews.com/2011/08/israeli-soldiers-join-lower-class-in-protesting-bad-economy-in-israel-class-warfare-within-the-israeli-army/6125


They went too far. What soldiers do on vacation out of uniform is one thing, but while on duty they are not free to express themselves.


On account of leaving their duty stations in protest against their treatment by a commanding officer, one group received sentences ranging from 14 to 20 days. The officer also lost his position. http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/1/1850498


Those who are obsessively anti-Israel need not despair about these contrasts between the northern and southern sides of the border with Syria. The IDF is laying new landmines along that border, in anticipation that Syrians will again encourage Palestinians to leave their 60 year old refugee camps and march toward Jerusalem.


Surely those landmines violate somebody''s norms, as does Israel''s continued existence.

 

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