The citizens of countries that are in perpetual state of war seldom have the luxury to worry about more mundane issues such as climate change or rising prices. Cities are hermetic entities and generally unrepresentative of the country at large. Same applies to Israel vis-à-vis Tel Aviv.
Young Israelis, mostly descendants of European Jews with political views left of center have recently decided to protest the rising housing costs by invading Tel Aviv’s most popular and populous boulevards where they have set up tents.
Photo by: Ben Hartman
During a stroll amongst the protestors, I witnessed an assortment of Israeli leftists who had found a cause under which to unite. After walking through the “Tent City” on Tel Aviv’s most famous and busiest boulevard, Rothschild I was struck by the somber, kibbutz-like atmosphere. I did not see heated debates, people were mostly spending their time in tents, and as one can imagine, many were too intoxicated by a plethora of available substances in order to bring themselves to angry expressions of discontent.
For all the rhetoric, it seems that the rallying is a welcomed picnic for many, and a stunt which does not resemble the uprisings in the Arab world, even though some amongst the tent dwellers like to compare their plight to that of the Arabs in Cairo’s Tahrir square.
Photo by: REUTERS/Amir Cohen
As strange as it might sound and for all the suspicion that one might feel towards the demonstrating activists, it seems that Israel is experiencing a phase of normalcy. Most people living in liberal democracies in the West do not have first-hand experience of war. For now it seems that existential questions of life and death have been replaced by social and economic issues that have been brewing beneath the surface for quite some time. The relative calm of the past few years has created a vacuum which is now being filled by the discontented segment of young Israelis.
In terms of Israel''s tumultuous history, the housing crisis is a welcome break from security-related issues. Israelis have become comfortable enough to focus their energies on domestic issues regardless of one''s politics. Of course, this can all change in a heartbeat.