Everybody wants to be the new “social” Israeli leader. Everybody wants to ride the wave of social unrest and to utilize the anger of the majority of Israelis not able to purchase an apartment or even feel they can provide for their families do to high costs of living.
Everybody is talking about the new wave of demonstrations in the upcoming summer, “this time it wont be as nice as last summer”. Well let me make two predictions. The first one is that this summer is not going to be as historic as the last summer.
Why do I think that? Because this time there are so many “leaders”, politicians & organizations that are trying to promote a protest, everyone is trying to gain ground towards an upcoming elections. I think internal battles will dissolve any potential success of this real public outcry. This outcry is real, the hardships of living in Israel, paying taxes and not being able to finish the month on a balanced family budget is true and painful and demands solutions.
The second reason is that the success of the social demonstrations of last summer is mostly do to the media joining the protest and supporting it. Many TV channels, radio stations, newspapers and news sites took part in the demonstrations and help grow the flames of unrest. If the media did not mobilize as part of the demonstrations and coverage of the activities, you would not have half of the people in the streets.
A lot was written about it, and most of all about the role of YNET, I would say the strongest media in Israel today, and the agenda of its owner against a certain prime minister. So I wont repeat that. But this will not happen this summer.
The media is not going to support the protest for several reasons. First because the owners are much more aware of their part in last year’s protest and will not allow their media owned outlets to join in the party, also do to a drop in the advertising budget in the months following the protest. Secondly, it is the “self censorship” of the news people themselves. They will prevent themselves from going with the flow of the protest, as they did last summer. And third, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had strengthen his hold on the media. Israel Hayom is his newspaper, Channel 1 new appointments are his people and also in Kol Israel – Reshet Bet which is the strongest radio station in Israel. A big portion of the local radio stations is owned by Likud convention members (rules that were changed under the last Likud government to allow ownership of several radio stations) and Channel 10 is under a threat of closing and is owned by one of Netanyahu’s closest friend, Ron Lauder.
And last but not least, Benjamin Netanyahu and his staff are not the best Prime Minister staff Israel had ever seen, but they are not stupid. They know Netanyahu has an advantage in the coming elections and they know a social protest over the summer (no matter what size) will be no good for their man and many will try to capitalize on the social issue. So my second prediction is that we either see elections to “override” the protest during the summer or after November or avoid them at all cost.
It is not easy living in Israel, and so many things can be done to change it dramatically . The government has the power to improve the conditions of living in Israel and we as people should demand it. But don’t expect a hot summer of huge protests like the last summer and don’t expect elections so fast as well.