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Issues of the Day Forces of Light Radiate in Israel's Periphery

An estimated fifty thousand Israelis, Jews, Arabs and Druze, from the northern border to Eilat, Israel's southernmost city, rallied last night to demonstrate that the demand for social democracy is not confined just to the country's centers but pervade the society as a whole. The epicenters of change are not limited to Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard but have spread everywhere demonstrating the broad consensus that is rooted not just in the middle class but in the geographical  periphery, which corresponds with socioeconomic marginality as well.

Last week, in the face of the growth of the grassroots movement Prime Minister Netanyahu was forced to reverse his initial attempt to denigrate the tent city movement. A commission was quickly established under a reform-minded economics professor, Manuel Trajtenberg, that will present proposals for change to the prime minister and his cabinet.

Apologists for the Netanyahu government are trumpeting the Trajtenberg Commission as proof positive that the premier is responsive to the people and interested in meeting our demands. What these defenders of the Likud conveniently neglect to note is that it is precisely during the more than thirty years where Likud free market economics have been elevated to state creed that economic concentration in the hands of the Twenty Families, the decline of the public education and health systems, the continuation of economic privilege to the social sectors that refrain from being economically active, the fostering of the black hole of West Bank settlement with its enormous economic costs, the expansion of the gap between classes, and the intolerable rise in the cost of living is the direct result of the Likud's ideologically-motivated policies.

The people are no longer willing to accept these outrages. The government, if it wishes to survive, will have to transform its program dramatically to meet the people's demands. Even if it does so on the socioeconomic front, it also will have to face the people's growing realization that economics within the state is inextricably tied to West Bank adventurism.

This growing recognition among the Israeli populace will no doubt translate into the politics of opposition and, in time, to the rise of a government committed to both social democracy and peace.   

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved