By Bradley Burston
July 25, 2011
Just last week, when a tent city suddenly snowballed the length of Israel’s most prestigious boulevard in protest of the lack of affordable housing, Likud lawmaker Ofir Akunis, a former spokesman and adviser for Benjamin Netanyahu, took to state radio to elucidate a government response.
“Part of the protest going on at the moment on Rothschild Boulevard is being driven by a gang of anarchists,” the Likud member said, claiming the protesters came from “the adjacent Ahad Ha’am Street, where, as you know, the main branch of the Communist Party is located.”
It took tens of thousands of people filling Tel Aviv’s streets Saturday night, people from all over Israel, from all walks of life, from across the political spectrum, for the government to see their anarchists for what they really are – the middle class – and to realize just how revolutionary all of this is. It took all of them for the government to realize that they had a revolution where they least expected it, when and where they were least prepared for it, led by middle-class young adults that seemed the least likely to ever raise a cry.
You’d expect an Israeli government to know how to deal with a revolution. After all, the story of Israel is a clash of revolutionary movements, the sum total of which is the cabinet table. Every political party was once a revolutionary movement, from the Revisionists that gave birth to the Likud, to the Soviet Jewry movement which spawned Yisrael Beiteinu, to the Sephardi revolution called Shas.
But revolutions get old. Their fire goes out, and with it, their memory. This is what their leaders forget:
When a revolution is born, it is born messy. It erupts hoarse and rough-edged and faltering. Its hunger may not have direction. When a revolution begins to move under its own power, it doesn’t play by the rules. It’s one of the ways you can know that it’s for real. And it’s one of the reasons why this one may be so difficult to contain.
Anger Tsunami: Mass protest wave reaches Israel