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Issues of the Day Developments, Both Bleak And Promising, at the Start Of The New Year

I started the week with a vague lethargy, the result of four lovely days surrounding Rosh HaShanah, Jewish New Year, which began last Wednesday evening and is reckoned as having ushered in the 5772 year following Creation. Whether or not one accepts this cosmic arithmetic, the holiday is always welcomed, summer having been left behind and the stirrings of autumn becoming evident.


As far as news days go then, Sunday, the first business day after the holiday, was a day of grace. Other than the Government's latest chicanery surrounding the announcement of new housing construction in Jerusalem at a time when the Quartet is attempting to restart Israel-Palestinian negotiations, the first day of the week was something of a news dud. Today, however, Haaretz was brimming with reportage about developments, some of them bleak, some of them promising.


Starting with the positive, yesterday's announcement by the big three dairy producers they were rolling back prices made it "apparent that the social protest movement had managed to lower the cost of living," according to the newspaper's economic columnist, Nehemia Shtrasler.  


However, the leaders of the social protest movement promptly rejected the Trajtenberg Commission's proposals by as being too tepid and refraining from dealing with the structural roots of the socioeconomic crisis. They have promised a resurgence of protest activity in the near future.


In other words, the movement is not going to rest on laurels concerning the dairy industry retreat. The movement's motto this summer was "the people want social justice," in all public spheres. There will be no compromise on that.  


Also good news, – only because it is deals a blow to the Orthodox monopoly over matters of personal status in Israel; actually the entire affair is a tragic one –  was the approval of a request made to the courts by the esteemed Israeli author and War of Independence hero Yoram Kaniuk. The author asked to have the designation of religion on his identity documents changed from Jewish, which he regards as his nationality, to "Without Religion."


Kaniuk's action stems from the refusal of the Interior Ministry to recognize his grandson, his daughter's son, as Jewish because the child's grandmother, Kaniuk's wife, is not. Further progress toward separation of religion and state might be portended by this judicial victory.


Now for the less promising, indeed grim news:  A front page story headlined, "Shin Bet Warns: Rightist Violence Getting Out of Hand," by veteran Haaretz commentator Amos Harel reports that the domestic intelligence agency views as ominous the threats, vandalism and harassment launched by West Bank settler zealots against a deputy state attorney general, the West Bank Division Commander of the IDF, and Shin Bet officers who investigate Jewish security threats.


Other army and police officers are also said to have been targeted by a hard-core of a few dozen activists facilitated by a network of several hundred supporters. While the extremists and their supporters are said to constitute a small proportion of West Bank settlers, their actions including violence against Palestinians, village mosques and other property, and attacks against Jewish progressives.  


Rise, my novel, which was officially published two days ago on October 1st, portrays the confluence of  resurgent extremism against the background of Israeli  society under social and economic duress. At this moment in our history, the citizens movement I describe in Rise, which seeks a society based on social justice, coexistence and the rejection of intolerance and bigotry in all its forms, seems acutely relevant.   


Last night's "price attack" attack by right-wingers leaves an Israeli mosque in flames, causes riots Violent clashes erupt between Israeli Arabs, police after apparent 'price tag' attack

Former Chair of the Israel Bar Association on the rightwing agenda of the justice minister: "How a Professional Operates." 

Shin Bet: Threat of settler violence against Israeli officials rising in West Bank

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