Dissatisfied But Not Enough Israeli Protest Of Summer 2011

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Tamar HERMANN , Political Science, The Open University of Israel, Raanana, Israel
In the Summer of 2011, between the first major eruption of protests in Tahrir Square  and the emergence of the American Occupy Wall Street movement, Israel experienced a massive protest wave. However, unlike Egypt and the US, at that time Israel did not experience  unusual political, social or economic difficulties. In fact, by most objective parameters, this was a relatively calm period . Yet the protest gained unprecedented attention and participation.

 Based on social movements political process theories and public opinion data collected in the framework of the monthly Peace Index  and the annual Israeli Democracy Index run by the author, the paper will examine the reasons for the  unexpected  momentum of this protest campaign; and analyze  the public assessment of the 2011 protest  ex post facto.

 The main argument here is that the 2011 protest popularity on the one hand and its negligible results on the other are two sides of the same coin. Dissatisfied with the government performance and motivated by their perceived political inefficacy and simultaneously  fascinated by the  political and social transformative ideas, rhetoric  and activities of the Arab and Western  protest campaigns of the time,  the Israeli masses filled  the streets of Tel Aviv from July to September 2011. However, the data suggests that the protestors were not "hungry" for substantial social, economic and political changes. In fact, they had national (Jewish) and (middle) class vested interests in the maintenance of the socio-political status-quo, as was manifested later in the 2013 parliamentary elections.  Because of this duality, significant political dissatisfaction together with strong motivation to maintain the socio-political superstructure, despite certain similarities, unlike the Tahrir and Occupy struggles, the Israeli 2011 protest  did not and could not have produced a clear transformative agenda or action plan.