On the corner of Rothschild and Madrid

Tent-city activists hold live video chat with Madrid’s ‘May 15’ protesters, jointly prepare for next month’s int. anti-bank ‘Day of Rage’.

By
August 17, 2011 23:14
2 minute read.
Rothschild-Madrid protest video chat sessio

Rothschild-Madrid protest video chat session 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Fighting bad lighting and a spotty Internet connection, activists at the Rothschild tent city held a live chat Wednesday night with leaders of the “May 15” anti-government protests that have brought hundreds of thousands into the streets across Spain, since they began over three months ago.

Organizers said that the online meet-up, billed as “Live From Madrid” was called so that activists from the two movements could interact with one another and share ideas for upcoming protest events, including the international anti-bank “Day of Rage” protests scheduled for September 17, and the international anti-government protest day, called for October 15.

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The live chat was also meant as a way for Rothschild protesters to learn from the May 15 activists, who have accrued a bit more experience to share with the younger July 14 movement.

The meeting was held at the “Rothschild corner of Tahrir” tent near Sheinkin street, and was attended by a few dozen protesters and curious passersby. On the Madrid side, about half-a-dozen Spaniards sat smiling and waving, making “jazz hands,” the symbol for applause in American Sign Language.

The conversation was not without its hiccups. The Gmail chat video conversation dropped repeatedly due to the spotty Internet connection, and while it was still sunny in Madrid, in Tel Aviv it was already nighttime and initially there was no lighting system set up to illuminate the crowd.

The Spaniards, peering into their webcam for a closer look, called on their Tel Aviv brethren to hold their cell phones to their faces for illumination.

The conversation between the two groups – who communicated in English, despite it being neither’s mother tongue – was at times less than fluid.

When asked what the people in Spain see in the protests in Israel, one of the Spaniards, who was the only participant on their side who spoke during the entire conversation, said “we see it’s very big, very happy, and we all have a lot of hope in the Israel movement.”

Hearing that, the Tel Aviv crowd waved their jazz hands in the darkness.

Amit Youlzari, who runs the movement’s J14.org.il website, said that the conversation was organized because “we’re trying to hear from them about some of the methods they have used.”

Youlzari said that the Spanish movement has had even less leadership than the Israeli one, and was not launched due to any specific Facebook initiative.

While the live chat may have been an argument for favoring text-driven networking systems like Twitter and Facebook over platforms like Skype, it still showed a microcosm of how most of those in the Israeli movement see themselves as part of a global youth and Facebook-driven movement for social justice.

There was also no mention of Palestinians or the settlements, perhaps showing that sometimes, social issues can trump “the conflict” as a conversation subject when young Israelis and their European counterparts meet.


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