Ethnic angle coming out in Israeli protests

As Israel’s protests continue, some of the ethnic angles are getting more attention. With multiple tent cities, for example, African asylum-seekers and Ethiopian-Israelis gathered in a South Tel Aviv park.

Dov Waxman offered a thoughtful post about Israel’s Palestinian citizens and the current protests. Waxman pulled together Jewish-only trends in Israeli legislation and the possibility of Arab-Jewish cooperation in the street:

Which will be Israel’s future, that of growing Arab-Jewish conflict or cooperation? The outcome will depend on whether what’s happening in the country’s parliament or on its streets triumphs. If the right-wing members of the Knesset have their way, Arab citizens of Israel will be increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised, and Israel will become a democracy for Jews only. If, on the other hand, the economic and social-welfare agenda that is now being voiced by the tent protestors succeeds, then Arabs will also benefit and the deep divide between them and Israeli Jews can be narrowed.

In some sense, the protests have brought out all the divides in Israel: Arab-Jewish, rich-poor, religious-secular, citizen-foreigner (as in migrant workers and asylum seekers). “Social justice” most directly targets the rich-poor gap – or maybe rich-middle class-poor – but all the others are intertwined. It is hard to talk about rich-poor in Israel without thinking about high defense spending, subsidies for settlements, subsidies for ultra-orthodox families, income and municipal budget disparities between Arab and Jewish towns, and the like.


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