Question: I visited a tent city that young families started up in the center of Tel Aviv as a sign of protest against the high prices of housing. In the evening people there get in a big circle and take turns speaking everything that’s on their mind into a microphone. Any person is allowed to speak. If I sign up for the list of speakers, what would you advise me to say?
Answer: “The end of the action is contained in the initial plan.” First of all, what do we want to achieve? We want to achieve a solution to the housing problem for students and young couples – people who aren’t well-off yet and who are just starting out in life. We can do this only if we become a factor of influence and pressure on the government.
We think that the government has enough money for different needs. So let them express a sensitivity to our demands. A member of parliament receives tens of thousands of shekels a month, but a student does not receive anything and in addition, pays for his studies. It’s impossible to live that way. The government has to decrease its expenditures on its own self. I am not talking about the realms of safety, education, or healthcare. We do not intervene in these matters. Let’s suppose that everything is fine there.
We are talking about the government: The students should receive whatever amount they require. Young couples want to create a family and to live, so let them have a home. Let them be able to rent a simple family home at the initial phase of their life together, until they can buy an apartment of their own. Or give them an offer to buy a home right away at a normal price.
The government has land. A square meter of living space costs 500 dollars at most, even it’s not a mass construction area. Imagine: for $50,000 you could buy an apartment that’s sized 100 square meters. But today you have to invest say, $300,000 in it, which is sixth times more than it can really cost, all-inclusive.
Why does it have to be that way? How much can you make off of people who have no money?
Therefore, they are right. The only question is: How will they be able to organize together? They have to become a powerful lobby, a group that successively exerts powerful pressure until the goal is attained. Besides, they have to keep going beyond this as well. In this country, there are many other things other than housing that could be improved. But the government won’t improve them unless you obligate it to do it.
The government is constantly under pressure from coalitions and lobbyists. Therefore, unless you implant yourself in this system as a group of pressure, from the inside or outside, you will get no result.
That means the question now is: How can we organize ourselves so our protest won’t turn into a festival? I wouldn’t even be surprised if there are people there who are trying to do that on the sly. After all, the issue at stake is important and not simple because any government in the world takes great care of itself and takes the most diverse measures in this respect. This is natural because every authority has to stand its own ground. How else can it stay in power?
Therefore, the protestors need real, powerful, reliable, and serious organization, rather than just slogans said into a microphone. Of course, this is good and necessary as well, but if that’s where everything will end, then they will be even more looked down upon, and next time they or their followers will have a very difficult time. They have to understand what kind of responsibility they have. If people rise up for new protests in the future, their success will depend on today’s struggle and its outcome.
It’s necessary to use the services of good, real consultants in order to achieve unity and mutual guarantee among one another, in order to get organized correctly, in order to understand how to exert pressure, how to work with the public, how to attract new people to their side, and how to communicate with the mass media representatives and with the government. They need a very powerful internal organization and experienced advisers. Otherwise they won’t succeed.
I saw the same thing happen in Spain: Everything began very seriously. The protest action was joined by couples aged 30 – 40 who were left without work. These were well-bred people with higher education, who completed European universities. They included engineers, sociologists, programmists, and many others who were left jobless. It might be possible to find some kind of common labor job, but these kinds of people had no chances – they are simply helpless.
And so, at first they occupied the city square in Madrid. However, they were unable to get organized properly and gradually they dispersed. As a result, the protest disintegrated and their places in the tents were occupied by other people, who got used to living on the street anyway. The mass media stopped broadcasting the event, the government happily waved its hand, organizing free food, showers, and toilets. As a result, the government is demonstrating the presence of a “democracy,” while the homeless have a place to live until the winter comes. When it does, the tents will be abandoned and will unnoticeably disappear.
This is a very vivid example of a lack of organization. Here in Israel the protestors who have gathered are also well-bred, and that is their weakness. After all, in this kind of situation it is necessary to get organized and start exerting pressure. This is not the Egyptian revolution, it’s not a spontaneous uprising, and therefore it is necessary to have clear order. In this case it is more difficult to aim the protestors in a common direction, to organize them because they are more reasonable and individualistic. The shouldn’t take an example from Egypt and other countries because the people going out on the streets there are a different type. In this case we are talking about Israelis who are difficult to budge, separated, and egoistic. Here every person makes his own calculation. Taking all of this into consideration, it is difficult for me to say whether or not they will achieve success.
Perhaps they will nevertheless understand that they need a strong organization and a clear action plan: pressure on the government, publication of declarations, addresses to certain people or organizations. They have to stay on top of the headlines, and not just while the news is fresh. Otherwise they will be forgotten in a few days. At some point the tents on the public square will stop being news. A person will read the newspaper headline, “The 40th day of the tent protest” and will go on to the next article.
From the 5th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 7/20/11, “Arvut”