Written by Daniel Greenfield
It was probably the cottage cheese protests that gave the left an idea about how to regain a fraction of relevance. The notion was simple enough, shift away from the pro-terrorist protests and union strikes to a cost of living protest movement.
The Israeli left still commands international funding and attention, but it lacks domestic political representation. The Labor party is on its deathbed and the radical left has no hope of gaining anything beyond the usual handful of mandates. That leaves Kadima, the non-party created by corruptocrats, Sharon and Olmert.
Unsurprisingly for a party that only existed to ratify the personal power of its leaders, it has no real ideology. Kadima's only real platform is to get elected. Its leader by default, Livni, makes Olmert seem like a genius. Watching Livni try to give a speech, or even make a statement, tempts you to pit her in a binoculars competition against union thug and former defense minister Amir Peretz, who couldn't tell which side of them to look through.
Livni has her own binoculars problem. Not only does she keep looking through the wrong side of them, she also keeps looking in the wrong direction. Her only strategy for becoming Prime Minister has been expecting Obama to force out Netanyahu out so she can take over. If Israeli archeologists keep finding Second Temple relics, Kadima has found itself a Second Temple politician so dimwitted as to think that Obama is a latter day Roman emperor whose legions will march in to imprison Netanyahu and make her into his puppet.
Finally a taste of cottage cheese has convinced the left that it needs to let go of Rabin and become a revolutionary socialist movement. Unfortunately the only oppressed they're interested in are Ashkenazi middle-class activists in Tel Aviv complaining that housing is too expensive. Imagine Sean Penn as the representative of the Rent is Too Damn High party, and you get some idea of how pathetic all this is.
Take the number of housing activists protesting in Tel Aviv, divide by the politics of the media outlets involved, and then subtract common sense-- and you'll come closer to the actual number. Which is probably less than the voting rolls for Meretz, a left-wing party resembling what the city of Berkeley might be like if it turned into a political party, and still much less influential than any decent sized union.
But fortunately Meretz members are concentrated in all the right places, like Tel Aviv and the media. Which makes a protest movement easier. Normal people with college degrees being supported by their parents would find something shameful about staging a protest calling for a welfare state. But when your only job is trying to play guitar while empathizing with the plight of Gazans who don't even have electric guitars-- shame is not a word you use often.
Tel Aviv is admittedly a tragedy. One of the 50 most overpopulated cities in the world, worse than Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Cape Town. Why would housing in a city with a higher population density than Tokyo be so ridiculously expensive? It's one of those questions that can be answered by anyone who isn't an idiot. But not being an idiot is a disqualifier for participating in middle class protests for a welfare state.
The best way to lower the price of housing isn't with government projects, but by lowering population density. And the biggest enemies of expanding housing territory is the left, which has waged an ongoing war to block housing in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Ethnically cleanse the Jews of Gaza and discover that those people have to go somewhere too. And all of it affects housing prices.
The Negev pipe dream won't solve the problem. And none of the housing protesters are about to move there. Instead they want more housing in Gush Dan, already so overcrowded that in another generation it will look like Cairo. And government subsidized housing at that.
Desperate Tent City Protester
But really this isn't about housing. It's a chance for the left to rediscover the roots that it doesn't have anymore. The Ashkenazi middle-class leftist protests are a reminder of how out of touch the left is with the rest of the country. Imagine if the Democratic party had never been able to reach past Berkeley and you get some idea of how culturally disabled the Israeli left is.
Tel Aviv has become Israel's California-- a dysfunctional overcrowded bubble that believes it's the heart of the country, crowded with subcultures that imagine they're creative and unique when they're actually just the dilettante sons and daughters of the old elite, with migrant criminals to do the dirty work and an infrastructure and traffic situation just short of critical.
But Tel Aviv is really just as out of touch with the rest of the country, as America's coastal elites. The tantrums being thrown in the streets are just another example of that. In a country where many children go to bed hungry, and others expect to run to bomb shelters in the middle of the night, the antics of the spoiled brats waving their Keffiyahs and strumming their guitars appear pathetic and disgusting.
Much of the country does have a bone to pick with the government. With every government. But the left's attempt to manufacture its own version of the Arab Spring isn't about economics, it's about politics.
Kadima and Meretz can't win on appeasing terrorists, but this is their shot at riding popular discontent to the top. Pity for them that Israel has elections. And no amount of chanting in Tel Aviv will convince the army to stick Netanyahu in a cage. The left can take another swing, and maybe score a few runs on social issues, but the average Israeli isn't stupid enough to think that voting left will mean any benefits without Protektsia. And the chief beneficiaries of Protektsia are the sons of the old families throwing their Tel Aviv tantrums.
Most Israelis like their protests. Like Italy, Greece and the rest of the Med-- a round of protests is good popular entertainment. But the ubiquity of the Israeli protest only highlights its ineffectiveness. A 100,000 strong protest in a vast country like the United States is notable. A 100,000 man protest in a small country like Israel is just another week. Protests don't get results, they discharge anger and tension. They remind the government and everyone else that here are people who don't like the way things are and want a change.
But what does the left really want to change about Israel? It wants to roll back the calendar to 1943 when their institutions were dominant, and the Jews of Europe were being turned into Weizmann's dust on the wheels of history courtesy of the Nazi gas chamber. Before the country was overrun by Mizrahi and Russians, and the Nationalist Right was rotting in British prisons. When Israel was on the verge of being swept into another Arab kingdom, to flicker as a small candle of industry at the service of another backward state.
That would be madness, but madness is the only thing that the left has to offer anymore. Combined with ignorance, self-pity and outrage for the sake of outrage. If the Old Left and the New Left had ideas, the New New Left is nothing but brats with degrees in journalism and EU grants to undermine their own country. The truly successful variety move to Europe or America, where they use their background of entitlement and complete lack of manners to fit in perfectly with the domestic left.
Even more desperate tent city protesters
Some of these brats have already washed up on American shores. Rahm Emanuel and Jeremy Ben Ami are prime examples of the breed. Smart enough to do the bidding of their betters with an eye to their own careers. And though the Tel Aviv protesters may seem stupid and may even be so-- their protests are also a form of careerism. If they make enough noise and get their names in the paper, they may find jobs as poets, musicians, novelists or professional activists. Enough noise may get them into a party that may get them into the Knesset. And then they'll never have to work again.
That is the trajectory of the Israeli left, which has gone from the fields of the Kibbutz to lazing about in tent cities because real estate prices in one of the most overcrowded cities in the world aren't to their liking.
The Israeli left has become a movement of dilettantes, of losers who will turn traitor for a few Euros and 15 minutes of fame. Its great dream is to move to Paris or London and crank out anti-Israel articles for the Guardian. It has no compass and no shame. It confuses its vulgarity with cleverness and its drug fueled sentimentality with ideals. It began in the factories and the fields, it ends now in a vulgar political ploy of tent cities set up by the lazy sons of the rich. The Tel Aviv protests are not the revival of the left, they are its death.
From NY to·Jerusalem·, Daniel Greenfield Covers the Stories·Behind the News. Daniel Greenfield is a blogger, author and columnists covering international affairs, the rising threat of terrorism and the growing problems of socialism. His daily blog can be viewed at·Sultan Knish.