Saturday, August 06, 2011

Tahrir in Tel Aviv (traces, at least): Irhal!

"Irhal" or "Leave!" was the slogan of the Egyptian revolution. And he (Mubarak) did leave. Let's hope for an early exit of Bibi too. The photo is from the progressive Israeli blog +972. The banner says "Irhal" in Arabic, and in Hebrew, "Egypt is here!" It was taken at today's demo in Tel Aviv, which numbered an estimated 200,000, in favor of social justice, and in particular, focusing on the housing crisis.

According to +972, among those who addressed the rally in Tel Aviv was Palestinian author Uda Basharat, who stated: ”It’s about time this protest will be become the protest for all those exploited, Jews and Arabs.”

Connections between Israel's housing movement and the so-called Arab Spring have been, on occasion, raised explicitly. Joel Beinin reports in an absolutely essential piece on the connections between today's social struggles in Israel and the Arab Spring (published by Middle East Report Online) that: 'During the first week of the protest one Rothschild Boulevard demonstrator interviewed on Israeli radio’s Channel 2 told a reporter, “We have to do what they did in Egypt. Yalla, tahrir, jihad.” The fact that a middle-class Israeli suggested, even if it was only rhetorical excess, that this Israeli movement had anything to learn from an Arab political phenomenon is astonishing and unprecedented, to say nothing of the use of the hyper-provocative word jihad.' Beinin also underlines the important obstacles to the explicit making of such connections.

Note too this excellent report from The Real News, which shows large numbers of protesting Israelis last week chanting, "Mubarak, Asad, Bibi Netanyahu!"

The best slogan to come out of Tel Aviv would be one, however, where "irhal" referred not to the departure of Bibi from politics but the departure of Israeli troops from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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