The massive media manipulation of the social protests sweeping Israel for the past month makes it hard to present a well-formulated opinion on the subject. But the movement has brought to light some very valid questions, as well as some extremely important discourse. The issues the protesters have raised -- the cost of living, the housing crunch, the distribution of land for construction, market concentration and privatization -- must remain front and center. As for solutions, would the honorable leadership of this protest group (I have no idea who elected them to that position, but let's leave that worthy question for some other time) kindly form a political party and let the voters decide on whether to endorse their socioeconomic platform? For the time being, though, Israel will continue to have an elected government, which has appointed a committee of experts with a mandate for introducing changes to our society.
But at its current phase, the protest appears two-pronged. At its core is a vibrant discourse about values, a conversation that cuts across all sectors and includes people of all stripes. It focuses on economics and the actions of each and every one of us vis-a-vis the Israeli public domain. But at its outer layers, the ones the media has focused on, there is a tinge of political-partisan intent. It is a legitimate desire to want to influence politics, but this might also explain why Haifa, a city historically receptive to a socialist-communist ideology, saw many more protesters in its streets than did Beersheba. Could it be because the public connects the propaganda primarily with the Left, and sees beyond it? Perhaps people refuse to buy the sudden epiphany of singer Margalit Tzanani, that which led her to embrace the protesters, and instead view her shift -- she initially made statements that seemed to attack the protesters' motives -- as a forced conversion by the Inquisition.
And indeed, the speeches at the rallies in Haifa smacked of class warfare and Marxist-Communist ideology. They sought to warn of a possible conspiracy in the making: the government, some say, "might launch another war" just to silence the protesters. To the best of my knowledge, the last two wars were waged by left-wing governments. But propaganda is propaganda.
"The number of protesters in Beersheba does not make the protest a failure, heaven forbid," said the Channel 2 reporter who stepped into chief news anchor Yonit Levy's role as the person to fire up the demonstrators. This statement makes it official that the Israeli media submitting to the protest, with its incessant "reporting," as early as Friday, that 30,000 protesters were "expected to show up" in Beersheba. Six years have passed since the destruction of the Gush Katif settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip. The differences in the media treatment then and now are striking. I would advise a slick entrepreneur to set up protest encampments across from the national TV and radio broadcast stations in a call for a media New Deal -- namely, a redistribution of the media's public resources.
These are not mere luxuries. In many senses, it is a greater right to have your voice heard in the media than it is to have a job or food on the table. Many Israelis are denied this right -- only a privileged few enjoy it and they treat it as their prized possession. It is a moral disgrace when the media, like an unelected political party with all the characteristics of a genuine party, usurp public programming so that they can rally the public troops rather than do their duty and report. Dear citizens: You must wake up. Someone is trying to make it so that you believe in what they, not you, think is right. If justice is what the cameramen, reporters and their colleagues seek, let's fight for media justice as well as social justice.