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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "En Israël, aujourd’hui, c’est le ras-le-bol général"

by Françoise Germain-Robin

"In Israel Today, Everyone’s Just Fed Up»

Translated Friday 9 September 2011, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Derek Hanson

Sébastien Boussois, author of several books on Israel, and president of Young Researchers On the Middle-East (Cercle des jeunes chercheurs sur le Moyen-Orient), analyses the evolution of the situation in the country.
He is interviewed by l’Humanité.

HUMA : Your latest book, Israël: l’enfer du décor. Dix ans de radicalisation. [1] describes the gradual swing of the whole Israeli society towards a right that is becoming tougher and tougher. Don’t the Indignados’ current massive demonstrations contradict this analysis?

BOUSSOIS: On the contrary they could well be the consequence of this radicalization, of a right-wing governmental policy that gets tougher and tougher under Netanyahou. This policy, added to the fact that the major part of the State’s investments go to defence and to the settlements, has aggravated poverty which, for the last ten years, has spread to larger and larger sections of the population. Today, everyone’s fed up. It started with young people, students most of them, protesting against rises in the prices of basics and the fact that they could not afford a lodging. They put up tents and appropriated to themselves the name of “Indignados”. The movement just snow-balled thanks to the social networks, because it corresponded to the population’s feelings. When you know that in one year rents shot up by 30% in Tel Aviv and by 20% in Jerusalem,
It clearly becomes impossible for many people to keep afloat.

HUMA: Did the example set by Arab countries inspire the protest?

BOUSSOIS: Implicitly, yes. The idea is this: “If the Arabs can rise against injustice, why can’t we do the same?” Now, in Israel, the feeling of injustice is fuelled by real facts: the budget allotted to a settler in the occupied territories is twice as much as the budget for the average Tel Aviv or Jerusalem Israeli.

HUMA: Could the protest go so far as to denounce Netanyahou’s policy towards the Palestinians?

BOUSSOIS: There’s a real dichotomy on that point: some intellectuals, some activists on the left have seen the relation between the two issues for a long time. But they haven’t got much influence on the grassroots movement. As long as those in office will succeed in imposing the idea that Israel is in danger, that there are enemies abroad – the Palestinians, the Arabs, Iran - that jeopardize Israel’s survival, there cannot be any change. It’s a vicious circle. The way out of it is a solution to the Palestinian problem, but should it come, people would understand that their main enemy is not to be sought abroad but at home. This is not in the government’s interest, so they will do all they can to conceal this, as appears in the government’s crusade against U.N. recognition of the State of Palestine!

HUMA: Is there at least a chance that the swing to the right you’ve analysed may be stopped?

BOUSSOIS: I believe it is difficult to move further right than Netanyahou and Lieberman have already done. So there is going to be a back-swing. A “social” left may come back, on condition that it succeeds in re-structuring itself. For the time being, there is no political alternative, no political counterpart for the social movement. Today’s Labour party cannot be the alternative and Barak stopped representing the left a long time ago. The construction of a real left is all the more difficult as the last laws voted in July severely punish the movements that militate for peace and for a Palestinian State. The situation has reached a point where no opposition is possible any longer. As in some Arab countries…

[1Israel : the perverse side of the picture; Ten years of radicalization, with a wordplay on “envers” for En « reverse » and enfer for En “hell”. Éditions du cygne pub.

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