Friday, August 05, 2011

The choice for Israeli protests

The New York Times, of all publications, puts it bluntly:

But there is one issue conspicuously missing from the protests: Israel’s 44-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, which exacts a heavy price on the state budget and is directly related to the lack of affordable housing within Israel proper.
According to a report published by the activist group Peace Now, the Israeli government is using over 15 percent of its public construction budget to expand West Bank settlements, which house only 4 percent of Israeli citizens. According to the Adva Center, a research institute, Israel spends twice as much on a settlement resident as it spends on other Israelis.
Indeed, much of the lack of affordable housing in Israeli cities can be traced back to the 1990s, when the availability of public housing in Israel was severely curtailed while subsidies in the settlements increased, driving many lower-middle-class and working-class Israelis into the West Bank and Gaza Strip — along with many new immigrants.
Israel today is facing the consequences of a policy that favors sustaining the occupation and expanding settlements over protecting the interests of the broader population. The annual cost of maintaining control over Palestinian land is estimated at over $700 million.
Of course, the government will try to overcome the problem by continuing the colonization of the West Bank and encouraging more Israelis to participate.  So, Israeli workers have a clear choice.  They can continue to invest in Zionism, continue to uphold the chauvinism at the heart of Israeli society that validates the occupation and the repression of Palestinians, and hope to resolve their dilemmas at the expense of the oppressed.  Or they can make that link which they have so far refused to make, between their situation and that of the Palestinians, and begin the work of undoing the Zionism which has hitherto held them hostage.  I suspect that whatever decision they make in this respect will have a lot to do with what now happens to the Arab revolutions.