Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tent Protests Going Awry

In what seems like a pathetic attempt to win back media attention, some in the Israeli social justice movement have turned away from peaceful protests. Instead, they took over vacant buildings owned by the Tel-Aviv municipality, declaring they're going to turn them into community centers for the general public. Cops took them out of the building, but these self-proclaimed revolutionaries have declared they will invade the buildings again, and will do the same thing in other cities.

I wish these were splinter groups, acting without the consent of the movement's unofficial leadership. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The Tent Protests' official website features the squatters prominently. On the bright side, newspapers are reporting that there is deep disagreement within the movement regarding these activities, including among its leaders.

Listen to those who want to return to the peaceful protests and stop squatting! Now that the security situation seems to have quieted down, socio-economic issues can return to the forefront without any publicity stunts (other than the part about living in tents). Illegal acts are counterproductive. Take me as an example: I support the tent movement and I've attended one of its rallies. However, if taking over abandoned buildings becomes the symbol of the protests, I will stop supporting them and will not participate in any more rallies. There are many Israelis like me, and at this rate, the "Million Person March" scheduled for September 3 not only will not have a million participants, it won't have 100,000.

Get a grip!

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