“The Nation Demands Social Justice” – For All

Event Poster for Beer-Sheva Rally that Reads, “The Negev Demands Social Justice”

I’m forgoing my perfectionist leanings because I want to tell you about the Israel protests tonight. I attended the Beer-Sheva rally, estimated at 35,000, and followed closely on Twitter and Facebook the progress of the protest in Haifa as well. (I consider Haifa and Beer-Sheva to be my Israeli hometowns.)

In Beer-Sheva, it was a warm, dry night. The atmosphere was that of a street festival, and babies and small children abounded, despite the late hour.

But something interesting was happening. Taking the focus off Tel Aviv changed the nature of the protests. In Haifa and Beer-Sheva, we saw a far greater inclusiveness in the protests than we had seen before, with gay pride flags flying high, signs for handicapped rights, and most of all, significant mike time given to Arab Israeli issues.

In Beer-Sheva, Hanan Alsana (חנאן אלסנע), a Bedouin woman, was one of the headline speakers and a highlight of the night to many.

Live Coverage from the Ground

I know many people are uncomfortable with Twitter, and that’s fine, so I’m bringing it to you. Here’s a live account of what people were saying as the protests happened.

— Keep reading for photos, videos, funny stories, and recommendations of what to read next. Most importantly, I look forward to hearing your thoughts — 
And here are some photographs to share with you the spirit of the evening. Can you feel it? 
Beer-Sheva

Want to play “I Spy”? Can you find the following: an Israeli flag, a protest symbol, a Gilad Shalit banner, a gay pride flag, an image of Bibi’s face (“Bibi” is the nickname of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu). What else do you notice?

The sign in red lettering in the middle says, “Social justice for Palestinians too.” The rallying cry of the protests has been, “The Nation Demands Social Justice,” so we can read this sign as an addendum to be read in full: “The Nation Demands Social Justice- For Palestinians Too.”
Update: we’ve found the sign holder. It’s Amitai Sandy, whom you can find more about here.
Image credited to Elizabeth Tsurkov.
Haifa
And for your entertainment, here’s a video of a marriage proposal made at the Beer-Sheva rally. Said the proposer, “I don’t have a house, but I have love.” (I didn’t find it terribly romantic given the context, but at least they’ll have a good record of it.) Video is in Hebrew, but you’ll get the gist.
On that note, I can’t let you go without checking out the latest episode of “Pini in London” in which Pini sets up a tent village of one. Pini, a silly character, is the subject of short internet-based stories about the life of an Israeli who is visiting the UK. The most recent episode is in tune with Israel’s current events- or not. See for yourself.
Recommended Reads
For some of these you’ll need to invest in an internet translator- they’re free. Find one you like: it’s worth it for following events in the Middle East, especially at this historic juncture. (Start off with Google Translate, or Tradukka for smaller texts, and go from there.)
  • Want to read the original Facebook event invitation for Beer-Sheva? Start here.
  • “Over 70,000 Protest in Israel’s Periphery”YNet is my favorite source for keeping updated on the protests. Its coverage has outranked other mainstream publications. I especially like the photos in this article. Click through for that alone. (Note that the original number of 35,000 told to us as the number of Beer-Sheva participants has been readjusted to 12-15,000.)
  • “100,000 Protest Across Israel as J14 Leaves Tel Aviv” by Dimi Reider at +972 Magazine (see below). And wow! Afula turned out 15,000 protesters in a city of 40,000. That’s amazing!!
  • But don’t forget the rest of the country. The protests in Jaffa (Yafo) were a force unto themselves. Even if you haven’t found that translator you like yet, do click through for the photos from one of Israel’s most mixed cities
  • “The Anatomy of Israel’s Protest Movement” via the Socialist Worker. Although the source has its obvious biases, a generally good overview of the protest’s development as a whole for those yet unfamiliar. Additionally note that having been published on August 12th (yesterday), it’s very current
  • “Protest Culture Thrives in Steamy Israeli Summer” via Reuters. A shorter piece than the one above, it is a quicker read and offers a very mainstream view given its source
  • “MENA: Can a hashtag spread hate?” As a former, and I hope, future writer at Global Voices Online, this is one of the best articles I’ve read. MENA stands for “Middle East North Africa,” in case you’re wondering. This post provides insight on the Twitter controversy about the hashtag #ThawretWeladElKalb, which is Arabic for “Sons of Dogs Revolution” that is used in reference to the Israeli protests (ugh)
  • ActiveStills.org is a great source for protest photographs. Their images are copyrighted, so I’m only sharing them by their good graces (I’ve told them I’m sharing them, but may have to take them down if they complain)
  • +972 Magazine – While no one has any doubts that this magazine is very Left wing, it also has some of the best news coverage out there and has made a concerted effort to provide meaty articles and up to the minute updates. Even if your politics aren’t aligned, their coverage is worth your time to learn more about this important issue. “+972″ is a reference to Israel’s telephone country code. Also notable is that the publication is only about a year old.
  • As you’ve seen in my choice of citations on Twitter, I consider Dotan Z. Harpak and Elizabeth Tsurkov to be superior sources of information on that venue. I recommend them highly for a comprehensive overview of live protest coverage. Note that Dotan is reporting from news media sources and Elizabeth is attending the demonstrations live, both of which have individual merit
Here’s Where You Come In
This is the fourth week in a row that Israel as a nation has collectively protested. It is a central topic in our lives at work and in our personal conversations. As for me, I’ve been awake way too late every night reading everything I can and collecting hundreds of articles that I want to come back to.
This blog entry is meant to be a highlight only, not a complete overview by any means, so please do go ahead and ask questions and I’ll see if I can answer- or if another reader can. One of the most important conversations I had this past week was from a  friend who read my coverage of the protests last week and asked me about a post where I said I was both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. An interesting conversation arose from these two questions and I’m glad she had the courage to ask rather than just wonder. (I haven’t included her name here as I don’t want to single her out further.)
Why am I telling you this? Because I admire the courage to ask. Hope this post has provided some insight and a taste of what we’re experiencing here in Israel. I welcome your recommendations of what to read, who to follow, and your own thoughts and reflections. Take care and Shavua Tov.
[And sorry about the formatting- it’s a coding problem that I have spent several hours trying to fix without success. If you know something about why the line breaks aren’t working properly, by all means, get in touch – norton [at] bgu.ac.il.] 

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6 Responses to “The Nation Demands Social Justice” – For All

  1. Maya Norton says:

    Permanent shortcut: http://tinyurl.com/tnjngv. That’s TNJ for The New Jew and NGV for Negev.

  2. t h schottenstein says:

    “new Jew”?! If your “hashkopha” represents the “new Jew” , I’ll stick
    with the “old”!!!!!!!!!

    • Maya Norton says:

      Can’t say that there’s much response to that as without your elaboration as I’m not willing to make assumptions about what your worldview might be.

      If you’d like to respond, we can have a discussion.

      ~ Maya

  3. Maya Norton says:

    Dear friends, I welcome your comments, but please note that I am traveling at present and will be without full internet access until the beginning of September.

    Take care and be well. Salam v’Shalom,

    ~ Maya

  4. Ittay says:

    four months later, do you think the protests have been a success? have they made Israel a better society? Has the government accepted many/any of their demands?

  5. Very useful post. Thanks for this post :)

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