Friday, August 26, 2011

Tel Aviv Demands Social Justice

The protest camp on Rothschild boulevard runs nearly a mile long down the street. The park itself is actually a bike path with grass on both sides, and one can only imagine the ire of bikers who must contend with tourists and grad students snapping photos.

The signs on Rothschild are more diverse in their messaging than those in other camps, even Jerusalem's. The messages were also more partisan and slightly more obscure. Since the camp has so much publicity, organizations have sensed an opportunity for publicity and have set up shop at the camp. As an example, here is a flyer being held down with stickers from the socialist Hadash party.

This poster is about Scientology.

While references to the Arab Spring were few and far between elsewhere, this sign was prominent on Rothschild. It reads: "Rothschild, Tahrir corner."

Far from being a static display of signs, the camp is filled with people. There are those who have set up tents and are participating in the protest.

But the biggest difference from the other camps was the people walking through. Since Rothschild is a bike path in downtown Tel Aviv, the camp was pull of people out for their evening walk, parents teaching their kids about civic participation, and people with cameras snapping pictures. The feel of the camp was that of an exhibit like The Gates in Central Park. It spurred discussion among those who walked through, and it was not uncommon to see groups of people with no clear link to the protests sitting on the benches lining Rothschild engaged in thoughtful political discussion.

One of the most interesting moments in the camp was this one:

The woman pictured is an IDF corporal, judging from the two stripes on her upper arm. She was taking a picture of a drum circle being led by followers of Rav Nachman Me'uman. The moment was incredibly symbolic of the closeness between civilians and the military in Israel. While the woman pictured is in uniform, she carries a bright colorful backpack and has a sense of artistic curiosity about the protests. It strikes the viewer that even soldiers are taking an interest in the protests in their down time.

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