What is this Tent Protest really about?

These protests started when some Israelis decided to protest high prices of Tel Aviv apartments by setting up tents in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild boulevard. This movement assigned #j14 as a hashtag people use to discuss this topic on the internet, it stands for July 14, the day it all began.

#J14 developed into protests calling for Social Justice for the citizens of Israel. It started with youth protesting housing prices and turned into a massive movement that included doctors, lawyers, social workers, government employees etc. all protesting low wages and demand social justice. On Saturday, 300,000 Israelis took to the streets to participate in the protest. This movement is something that cannot be ignored, it is the awakening of a people which has for long been unawakened. But, what are they being awakened to?

The real defect the state of Israel suffered since it’s inception is Zionism which led to ethnic cleansing, occupation, and later Apartheid. One thing #j14 has failed to address since it began is the necessity to end occupation to be able to come out of the protests with actual results and not something that would simply continue with the ill treatment of Palestinians inside Israel and the occupied territories.

Now, it is important to clarify that I am not saying there weren’t chants against the occupation, that there weren’t calls for equal treatment for all citizens, Jewish and Arab (in occupied territories too). There were, but the movement organizers decided not to address those crucial issues because they were afraid to lose popular support from Jewish Israeli participants. Organizers have said clearly that they want to keep this movement “apolitical” therefore not addressing racism, not addressing occupation, not addressing ethnic cleansing and simply call for social justice only for the dominant Jewish majority. A list of official demands has emerged but it doesn’t address any of the issues I stated. This is a blind movement as long as it doesn’t address crucial issues which are the reason of all this.

The Israeli Government is putting a lot of its money to maintain an occupation which will not last! Today, a lot of settlers are moving into West Bank settlements because of cheaper housings and cheaper life styles. Settlers are lured into Settlements because the rightest government offers them easy life there. Those who stay to live in cities like Tel Aviv pay the cost, they pay for the actions of a government which seeks to enlarge an illegal occupation of an occupied territory. Do most Israelis realize that their tax money has been heavily invested by their government into building an illegal wall around the West Bank instead of improving their lives in Israel? This is the real injustice, ending the occupation leads to the accomplishment of your goals in achieving social justice.

As Ali Abunimah has put it: “So #j14 is like whites protesting for better incomes in 1985 South Africa, but leaving out apartheid because it’s “too divisive.”

And quoting Joseph Dana’s twitter too: “Many #j14 protesters say that the movement is “apolitical” which is code for “we don’t talk about the Palestinians or the Occupation.”

I really cannot say I support this movement now, but I believe it can turn to be good in one way. Those who claim that they oppose occupation and the ill treatment of Palestinians should use this vibrant environment to come out strong, come up with a new list of demands that would call for an end of occupation and grant social justice and equality for everyone, all citizens who are under Israeli rule, including the occupied territories. This is your chance, now is the time!

Always being afraid of what the community would think is the way to never change. If they decide to ignore the injustice, then they silently approve of it. I don’t want misleading messages that this protest has people who call for an end to occupation when I don’t see that in news headlines or official demand list. It is never too late though!

Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace




Without coming to grips with militarism, racism, and oppression, the Israeli protest movement will be easily coopted and will not be able to achieve its goals. Regime change is the only way to social justice. So, which way forward?

There are local tent camps all over the country. These are the nuclei of local fighting organzations of the oppressed people. The Palestinian oppressed must join this movement on their own terms. Tent camps should be erected in solidarity all over the Nakab, Galilee, Golan, Triangle, West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Jordan.

All those who claim to speak for the workers, the farmers, and the refugees must endorse this struggle. All those who advocate BDS to isolate the Zionist regime must reach out to all the victims of the regime and form a common front.

Those who understand that social justice in Palestine requires regime change must lead the fight and proclaim: "The people demand an end to the regime", "Not one shekel for the settler-colonies; the entire state budget for housing, healthcare, and education", "For a 35-hour workweek with no reduction in pay", "Free Gilad Shalit; free all Palestinian political prisoners", "Housing is a right; no to house demolitions -- no matter what", "The Palestine refugees are our partners for coexistence -- let them come home", "Tear down the wall; build housing for all", "A state for all its citizens -- not for the settlers, the generals, and the tycoons".


We all would like to see the protesters taking a further step by calling to an immediate end of occupation, but tell you what, that will see them crashed within minutes (not in the Syrian style though) cos that's considered as a "NO Go Zone".


"A further step"?!? They are not on that same road, not on the same planet. The protest is a "real estate revolt"--nothing more. If the ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem and the West Bank intensifies and they get what they feel they are entitled to out of it, they are fine with it. They chant "Give us the keys and we'll clear the square." They want houses--paid for, not "social reform." They feel they didn't get their piece of the pie out of the whole robbing enterprise.


You are right of course, but the social dynamic works in a more complex way. It is just a question of time until the protesters realize that the realization of their demands will require cutting the military and occupation budget brutally. First sign--today a Knesset committee rejected a demand for over 600 million NIS from the army. A month ago this would have been inconceivable. Let us give them a chance to evolve and gain political support.


Very nice post, describes pretty well what is happening in Israel

About the call to end "occupation" - Peace is something we all Israelis would like to see. Promise you that if Palestinians groups will abandon terror and we the Israelis will see start you protest against those murderers than all Israeli people will be the first to help you guys to become Independence


I like your summary. But it is too early to expect ordinary people to speak out.

The main hope from j14 is where it might go in the future. If it continues to concentrate on social justice, and it continues to involve thousands of people, some of those people may start questioning Zionism and go on to start a new, progressive movement.

People always become involved from their own direct personal concerns, such as rent. For some, the involvement and the struggle will help them go on to develop a political consciousness. If that happens with this lot, then they will speak out.


Hi, a well thought-out piece. I know people focus on their own concerns, but it all just feels a bit self indulgent and embarrassing to be protesting against house prices and rents (which are no worse in ratio to incomes than in UK for example) when Palestinians not a few miles away have no justice, and have their homes invaded and / or destroyed. It's really hard to sympathise.
Ref the commentor who mentions stopping 'murderers' - look at all the non violent palestinian organisations. 99.99% + population in the west bank reject violence. We have 'murderers' in Norway, and Britain, sadly, but that doesn't mean reject and tar all Norwegians or Brits. Its an excuse for mass mistreatment and it increasingly doesn't wash.
To gain any moral legitimacy this protest needs to include an end to the occupation and equal rights for all. Otherwise it looks self indulgent and a bit 'poor me'... trying to mimic a widescale movement but without real justified cause.


The Israelis will not fight the fight for you. They can support, express solidarity but at the end of the day only the Paletinians can fight for the Palestinian State.
Right now the Arabs living in Israel are losing a fantastic opportunity of participating in the #j14 movement. There are a few in the the tents and apart from Yaffo the Arab presence in the demonstration was very small. They prefer to stay home complaining about discrimination.


This is what's happening here.

Socialism had been a dirty word in Israel for decades.

J14 changed that 180 degrees. Suddenly, it's capitalists who have to hide in a closet.

Ending the Occupation also had been dirty words in Israel for decades.

Expecting the J14 movement to address all issues at once is naive. It started gradually, from one woman's personal problems, and each and every day more and more people realized it's their own protest too - not just a buch of spoiled radical left anarchists who want to ruin Israel, as Bibi's people tried to say.

Instead of going from the big picture economic & political issues, this protest started from an individual. 3 weeks later, we got to talk about the big economic issues. Now, we start to talk about the big picture political issues as well.

I don't expect Palestinians to support, endorse or even show understanding to my troubles. Oh, and your criticism - Radical left Israelis know everything you're saying - b/c we say the same thing.

Just as Pal's critic radical left Israelis, we critic those to our right.


Dear Palestinians, Not everything in Israel is about you. Believe it or not, we have full lives outside of you.

Jalal Abukhater's picture

Nothing can be about you and not about us.
First off, it wouldn’t have been you if you didn’t steal what was mine and put me under your inhumane military rule.
Second, what you do today affects me more than you would think. I suffer the most under your system, and I care how you drive your protests.


Yes you do have full lives, unlike the palestinians living under apartheid regime. I'm a South African, who lived during apartheid here, and I can tell you now, if u r on the oppressors side, u will never understand what the oppressed r going through since uve never had to worry about a thing ur entire life. Jews, who lived through the Nazi regime should sympathise with Palestinians. They know what its liked to be treated inferior to another human being


Comparing Zionism to the Nazi treatment of Jews is historically inaccurate to say nothing of inflammatory. The Jews never threatened the existence of Germany; there are genuine Palestinian and Arab threats to Israel's continued existence. That is not to say that the Occupation is justified, but it occurs in a context that must at least be acknowledged. A Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza is one thing; a Palestinian state that obliterates Israel is something else. True, an Israel within the 1967 borders (as may be adjusted) is one thing, and an Israel on both sides of the Green Line is also something else. Israel has to end the Occupation; but the Palestinians and their supporters have to truly accept the permanent and eternal existence of at least an Israel within the 1967 borders. I don't see willingness on either side to really accept these principles. Both sides argue at the other, which basically encourages the maximalists on each side to pretend that only the other is 100% responsible for the lack of progress.

Jalal Abukhater

Jalal Abukhater's picture

Jalal Abukhater is a Jerusalemite, he is a graduate MA(hons) International Relations and Politics from the University of Dundee, Scotland.