Stop, hey, look what’s going down on Rothschild

“There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear . . .”

The closest I have come to tasting revolution since 1967 – the year in which Stephen Stills sang those words, and the one, too, in which I was born – was witnessing Johny Finn stand up in a crowded Holders Hill Road examination hall and (following, it must be said, no little provocation) cut Rabbi Abrahams, aka “Abie,”  (even further) down to size with the now legendary “You chutzpadik little man.”

That uprising, however, ended there. And, following the exchanged glances of horror (and of respect for our classmate), our heads immediately returned to the University of London exam papers from whence they had risen. Moreover, Armitage Road’s answer to Che Guevara is now a successful (and, what is more unusual in that line of work, well-liked) Jerusalem property developer.

Following some encouraging early signs of rebelliousness, the only type of revolting ever associated with me had nothing whatever to do with changing society for the better (or, indeed, at all). And, at our Shderot Rothschild architect’s office, yesterday afternoon, my partners and I – entirely oblivious to the tent-ridden Boulevard outside – were, somewhat obscenely in the circumstances, arguing the toss about whether we should invest an extra 15% for Schüco (German) windows with a spec befitting a gas chamber (as you can perhaps tell, I was against).

Observing the day-by-day growth of the Rothschild tent protest, however, has left me in no doubt that we are witnessing something truly historic and society-changing here. Something is clearly rotten in the state of Israel: twenty-odd families, effectively, control its economy (Bloomberg article), while insane property prices and high food costs – ludicrously, much Israeli produce costs far more here than abroad – cause significant hardship for most Israelis, whose low salaries are completely out of sync with the cost of living. But it is not in the interests of the vested interests – said families, the Israel Lands Administration, property developers, and corrupt politicians and bureaucrats – to make life more affordable for the ordinary Israeli.

Rothschild Boulevard, yesterday evening

It would, of course, be entirely hypocritical of me to overdo the empathy bit with the tent-dwellers. And, of course, no one likes a protesting student: what exactly have they got to “protest” about? Doing f*ck all for four years?! The movement has also been hijacked, to some extent, by agitators, crusties and downright lazies, many of whom appear to believe that the world owes them a living. I observed one such yesterday – who looked like he regretted ever leaving Goa – appropriate water from a fire hydrant to fill (and to the brim) a large plastic swimming pool. For all of these reasons (and because I am just like that), I have turned a blind eye to Stuey raising his hind leg – walk after walk, and day after day – against tent after tent (see July’s Mensch of the Month). It is, after all, his Boulevard, too.

Nonetheless, it has been quite something witnessing this public awakening and mobilization – and the intensity of debate being conducted – on Rothschild, until only recently the bastion of Tel Aviv superficiality, vacuity and bullshit. And, if you haven’t seen it for yourself, it is well worth a visit.

Tomorrow morning, I will once again walk Stuey and Dexxy down Rothschild . . . and will once again confront the harrowing sight of early-20-something Israeli females emerging in their skimpy pyjamas – in this humidity, merely shorts and a vest – into the virgin sunlight from the night’s makeshift erections (their tents, I mean!) And it is not an easy sight to behold, I can tell you.

Though there is nothing to be gained, either, from looking the other way or burying one’s head in the sand . . . so, may the struggle continue!

Photos from Rothschild, the following morning:


20 responses to “Stop, hey, look what’s going down on Rothschild

  1. In my opinion this is one the most exciting protest movements to have emerged in the last few years. Whilst there are a few hangers on like you mention, just looking to extend their India trip, the movement and the vast majority of people behind it are authentic. This is the bedrock of Israeli society – the middle class, not the oligarchs, high tech entrepreneurs or venture capitalists, who are tired of being told how good the economy is when they’re clearing 9K NIS and paying out 5K NIS in rent. The atmosphere is the evening is electric, if you live in the centre and haven’t been yet, then go.

  2. Agreed, Rysk. I have been saying for years that I have no clue how this country works: shit wages, high prices!

    This morning, I bumped into Peter Vit – an ex-colleague, and excellent photographer – on the Shdera. And I have just published, on Facebook, some of his wonderful photographs from our “sivuv” . . .

  3. I had echoes of your post in my head last night as I watched the protestors from the discomfort of my hot and sticky living room (the air-conditioner is merde). The representation that I saw of the 80 K+ people hitting the streets of TLV were not crusties and students. The vast majority were average citizens (and I mean average as a compliment, please do not take offence) and I was impressed and awed. I applaud this movement, and deeply hope that it will bring about some kind of change — the situation is completely ridiculous. Not that I’m convinced that whatever change is eventually effected will please everyone — I saw someone in the crowd who was protesting for public transport to run on Shabbat — I can just see that happening… not. (It’d set off a whole different mecha’a… )

    Not that I blame Stuey for lifting the occasional leg on a tent, mind you, but that’s mostly because as a dog, he has less of a notion as to what it takes for social change to actually happen. Were it a person pissing on the Rothschild tents, I’d likely be planning a mighty bitchslap…

    Incidentally — have you found a home yet, or will you, Stuey and Dexxy be joining the camp-out?

  4. John Fisher

    Since I immigrated to this country nearly a quarter of a century ago there has been only one government worthy of the name (from the latin “gubernare” – to manage). Love it or hate it, Rabin’s 1992-95 administration had direction with regard to the peace process, invested in much needed infrastructure and put a stress on education, while attempting to deal with social issues.

    As for the rest it is back to Alice in Wonderland:

    Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
    The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
    Alice: I don’t much care where.
    The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
    Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
    The Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

    While demonstrations of the kind we have been seeing lately can help, at the end of the day it is the electoral system that produces the total disconnect between elector and elected. Until we move to a Constituency System that forces MKs to listen to their people (and, as a by product, relegates minor parties to the status of lobby groups that they deserve to be) we are all doomed.

  5. “have you found a home yet, or will you, Stuey and Dexxy be joining the camp-out?”

    Rothschild is quite camp enough, Trollmamma, without me, Stuey and Dexxy! I have found a studio in Yaffo.

    Re Rabin’s last administration, John, I have no doubt that it had more ideological direction than all those since – not difficult! – but would a government of the Ashkenazi Ramat Aviv elite make Israeli society more equal (which is what this protest is all about) or less?

  6. John Fisher

    In principle, the ethnic and socio-economic background of government ministers should be irrelevant:

    Exhibit A: Labour Minister Tony Benn formerly known as Anthony Wedgwood Benn formerly known as Viscount Stansgate, a card carrying Toff who is widely considered Britain’s leading champion of the working classes.

    Exhibit B: Labour Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald formerly known as James MacDonald formerly known as James MacDonald Ramsay, the illegitimate child of a farm labourer and housemaid who is widely considered to have betrayed the working classes in his sellout to the Tories during the Great Depression.

    I rest my case.

  7. Good you’re “rest[ing your] case,” John . . . because it is very tired! Though, to save my former Rosh Machane unnecessary embarrassment, I won’t list here the far larger number of politicians, both Labour and Tory, who didn’t break the mould.

    And, after being so generous/kind, I have just read Gideon Levy’s article in today’s Haaretz . . .

    Perhaps I should no longer be surprised, but talk about hyperbole/wishful thinking!

  8. And then there’s the elephant in the room/tents which is finding the solution to the Palestinian/occupation/settlers. If the tent dwellers refuse to include this aspect in their grievances, how can the tent protest be a genuine social justice movement? This blog article and the comments below it repay reading

  9. Have you been having your brother – “Manc” in England, Your England – round too much of late, Jonathan?!

    The whole thing about this protest is that it crosses all traditional Israeli party/racial lines, and is not about left or right, Arab or Jew, Palestinian or settler . . . it is about rich/propertied or not!

  10. Israel may have a strong military, but this whole protest thing is just so Jewish . . . the latest, this evening, a nerdy student union head with a lisp shouting the slogan “Thedek chevrati!” (“Thothal juthtith!”)

    Come on! Three weeks have passed. Let’s have some action already!!

    (And see July’s Mensch of the Month.)

  11. Really weird. Was thinking of the 1985 Broadwater Farm (Tottenham) riot when I wrote the above, last night. And, lo and behold, woke up this morning to the 2011 Tottenham riot!

  12. Some balance on Rothschild, this evening, with the arrival of some hundred or so Bibi supporters. Waving Israeli flags, and the odd one of Betar, they marched up and down the Boulevard chanting “Bibi melech Yisrael . . .”

    And I found an involuntary smile spread across as my face as I witnessed crustie leftie countenances – the predominant ones on Rothschild – contort in self-righteous indignation that anyone dare express another view. The Left, as we know, are often the least tolerant of dissent, believing that they not only know, but also define, what is right and wrong in our society.

    It’s getting interesting!

  13. Great to see Tottenham in the headlines for once. And only a week before the start of the season.

  14. C’mon Melchett

    Been eagerly awaiting one of your great posts comparing the protests in Tel Aviv and the rest of the Middle East to those in London…After all in the Middle East youths protest for basic human rights but in London youths protest for a 46″ HD Plasma TV!

    C’mon get writing…Great site BTW

  15. Thanks, Paul. Moving next week, and spending entire days deliberating whether I should simply chuck all that crap that I have accumulated – and forgotten existed – over the past 12 years . . . or whether – because of some perverse combination of circumstances – I might one day regret their ruthless discard. 😉

    Normal service to be resumed shortly, I hope.

  16. Letting your dog pee against a tent is appalling. You complain about how screwed up economy is – high prices, low wages etc. Then metaphorically piss over the people actually affected by it and protesting peacefully about it. Yuk

  17. Have you kept your old love letters? I have

  18. From the teenage sweetheart who once saw the funny side of life, you mean?! (Or have you just been having your brother-in-law over too much, as of late?)

    Anyway, you wouldn’t have most of those crusties round to Muswell Hill for Friday night dinner . . . never mind camping on your doorstep for a month!

    And there was no “metaphorical” pissing about it.

  19. Welcome to melchett mike, Syed!

    From a read of your hilarious post (link above), I can say that your description of yourself – on your blog – as “more than just funny” is obviously far too modest. And Pakistan’s loss is clearly Slovenia’s gain.

    Allahu akbar!


    PS Did you name your blog “Life inside a chicken” because . . . ? No . . . surely not?! I always thought that was just a turban myth.

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