sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

September 7, 2011

Astroturf in Israel?

Filed under: Israel — Tags: , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 7:34 pm

Turns out, huge demonstrations demanding cheap housing that recently shook Israel were organized by an American Democratic operative:

According to an investigative report by Maariv‘s Kalman Libeskind, the protests were engineered by a group of media strategists who are directed by prominent Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, John Kerry and others. Greenberg directed the strategists to create a protest that was not led by one specific group, in order to create social ferment. An unnamed left-wing leader would eventually step into this ferment and take the reins, Greenberg predicted.

I suppose it’s not astroturf if grassroots show up, but I found those demonstrations puzzling.  You see, Israel’s economy is doing phenomenally well and the country is attracting Jewish youth from the English-speaking world:

Despite overwhelming odds, Israel has matured into an economic powerhouse boasting an ever-increasing GDP, strong currency, a lower unemployment rate than the US and the EU, and a rich and diverse culture. With all that Israel has to offer, Aliyah is increasingly becoming a normative lifestyle choice for recent college graduates and young professionals from western countries.
Young professionals in their twenties and thirties are faced with major life choices: What career path should I pursue? Should I attend graduate school? Should I date this person? These critical life decisions naturally tie into where one chooses to live. Will I find fulfillment in Manhattan or Toronto? Los Angeles or London? Such times of introspection inevitably lead to larger questions of how we define ourselves as individuals, as members of a community, and as Jews.
When studying the recent trends in Aliyah, it emerges that many young singles at this juncture in their lives are realizing that their future is in Israel. Since 2002, over 7,000 students and young professionals have made Aliyah from North America and the UK with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, bringing with them their skills, idealism and determination to contribute to a society that is at the forefront of global technology.

Seven thousand might not seem like a lot of people, but considering that a little shy of six million Jews live in Israel, and slightly less in the US, and not all of them are in their 20s and 30s, this is not a bad number.  I doubt young people from the developed world would be flocking to Israel if they thought they wouldn’t be able to make a good living there.

Israel’s unemployment rate is at an all-time low, at 5.7% this May, if you are wondering.  The long-term prospects are good thanks to highly educated, dynamic population and the prospect of developing natural resources.  Plus, Israeli society doesn’t have the structural problems that loom over other developed nations.  The total fertility rate for the Jewish women in Israel is 2.9 and rising.  The TFR for Muslim women is 3.7 and falling.

When Greece or the UK rioted, we knew it was about the looming end of welfare state.  Economically speaking things are looking up for Israel.  So why the demonstrations?

Israeli leftist organizations are funded from abroad, mainly the US.  They typically attack Israel on foreign policy issues, and are designed to deligitimize Israel in the global arena.  Foreign money was behind the libelous Goldstein report.  David P. Goldman argued that the protests are good news because they show that the country is united behind Bibi’s foreign policy, and the only way the left can think of attacking him is on the domestic front.  I hope he is right.  On the other hand, perhaps they are just diversifying.

Dear people of Israel, please don’t let the party responsible for the failed American policies select your next Prime Minister.

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