The Revolution in Israel

A complete guide to understanding the revolution in Israel

Revolution Diary: “Rage” Protest outside Yair Lapid’s House, Ramat Aviv, July 4 2013

I was late.

The facebook page for the event: A protest of rage against violence and sexual intimidation.

The facebook page for the event: A protest of rage against violence and sexual intimidation.

 

The crowd had already moved on from Shuster Square and ghostly echoes of protest chanting were caught hanging in the still Ramat Aviv air. As I got closer the voice of the protest got louder, reverberating off the ashphalt and the beige slate veneer of the housing blocks. Rounding the corner away from the main traffic and red and blue lights doused the nighttime darkness in ethereal streaks, accenting the otherworldliness of the moment.

Ramat Aviv was what passed for upper middle class in this part of the world. Teenage girls jogging in their tight lycras, moms fussbodying about, meeting for coffees and hauling bags of shopping and the occasional middle aged man sauntering along in some lacadaisical version of an evening constitutional. Yet tonight, like every Thursday for the past seven or eight weeks this white picket paradise was invaded by an entire phalanx of law enforcement. Regular cops, investigators, riot police and the ever present contingent of undercovers and provocateurs.

Ramat Aviv. Even the upper middle class are hardly in the lap of opulence. But there are more trees.

 

Their mission: Escort and contain the protests. And of course, becasue of the tensions everything seemed more intense. There seemed to be more squad cars, more people movers, more patrols of two or three cops advancing through the streets in formation.

For days now the facebooks had been alight with tension and everybody had some niggling foreboding thought about what could happen. People were angry. Real angry. One week earlier the Lo Nechmadim’s Black Night party was stormed by a contingent of riot police. In the midst of the fray one of the girls had been threatened and molested. Several arrests were made and like always, no one was charged and everyone was returned home.

Since then things had just gone wild. Videos of the event surfaced on facebook. The Police pages began screaming bloody murder and false accussations and they enlisted the help of Ruth Calderon, high profile Member of the Knesset from Yesh Atid. Immediately her wall was covered in the worst kind of accusations. I had to join in.

The video in question.

The Knesset convened a special meeting on Police Violence toward the protesters and she remained conspicuously absent. At the hearing several of the girls gave testimony. Several MK’s made speeches. Nothing was done. The police were reading it in their favor. No one cared. The story never broke big in the press. More feminist complaining. More spoilt brat protesters. The delegitimzation and intimidation campaign appeared to be on track.

The Knesset meeting regarding violence and sexual abuse of protesters. (Israel Independent Press – Facebook)

 

By the time I caught up the crowd had already gathered on the empty lot that backed onto Lapid’s house. Someone was mic checking, making another speech about something important and i disappeared into a pool of darkness to roll a cigarette and survey the scene. It was still small. A few hundred at most. This was no angry mob baying for blood but something far more contained. It wasn’t polite but this band were not about to start storming houses and smashing cars. Not yet anyway. And so once again I got caught in a mild moment of despair, as most of us would feel. No action. Nothing exciting yet.

Hundreds at the back of Lapid’s house. It looks impressive but its still contained.

 

The mic checking finished and the crowd swung around back to the front of the house and into the relative brightness of the streetlights. I could finally get a look at what was going on. It was a little different. For a start there were heaps of people I did not know. Which isn’t saying much. I hardly know everyone, but I know a lot of faces and I know what protesters look like and smell like and there was one overwhelming fact about this crowd – a lot of them were civilians. A lot. And there was age diversity too. Not just kids, but the middle aged and even the old were out and they were angry. It was small to be sure, but it was clearly getting beyond the regulars.

A balding geriatric with a leathery face was right up against the cordon of police that blocked the driveway into Lapid’s house. His eyes were going wild and the lines on his face told that tired and familiar Israeli story. Part of the generation who had come here in the early days, fought the wars, did the good Zionist thing and found themselves surviving into the twenty first centrury destitute and lonely and tired and cut off from everything they thought they were supposed to believe in. And so he had turned up to scream at the Minister who was busy parading himself as the symbol of the lost Zionism that once was.

“The dead have no manners” began Lapid’s memorial day post and what followed was one of the most tear-jerking and flag waving propaganda suckfests. But he read the mood right. 17,000 likes in an hour. But that was in the honeymoon days. Now that he was actually making decisions his posts were lucky to crack the 1000 barrier. People were seeing through him way faster than I had anticipated.

Morsi = Bibi + Lapid: The Same Revolution (Instagram: Or-ly Barlev)

 

A woman in a four wheel drive gets stuck at the roadblock and two protesters begin snapping away at her with their phones and cameras. For weeks now the protesters have been hands off with the regular rank and file, desperate to appear right and just and proper in the eyes of the so-called mainstream. But tonight was different. She gets out of her car, screaming and threatening lawsuits. The guy doesn’t back down. He holds. Damn you he says, look at you and your fancy car and your fancy neighborhood. You live in a bubble.You have no idea what our lives are like.

And then, in the midst of anger and the general feeling of helplessness that was starting to accompany these events a Nachman truck hoved into view. They had never been here before. in fact, no one had seen sight nor sign of any of the messianic groups since the headiest days of 2011. And to come out here, all the way to Ramat Aviv. This was an escalation of an entirely different kind.

The na nachs arrive

 

Religious dance music in an up-tempo freilich suddenly intruded on the monotonous hon-shilton-olam tachtons. People stopped. they didnt know how to react. the protesters are generally immune to happiness. And then it broke. Suddenly people were dancing, people just got into the vibe and for a brief, brief moment the revolution lived once again. Out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed Daphni Leef, bopping to the music and looking as happy as any day since the Summer.

Activists jump on top of the Nachman’s van for a brief moment of joy. (Instagram: Or-ly Barlev)

 

And then, as quickly as it had come it went. The cops, momentarily as stunned as all of us had regained composure and began following standard procedure. They shut down the music immediately, on the pretext of allowing the neighbors to sleep -which is in every single way the exact point of why they were here – to make sure the neighbours dont wake up. And then it was over. the sudden rush of energy could not be reclaimed, the peak had hit and from that point on the entire night diffused and degenerated. But it was there. For that brief moment. New groups were joining the revolution.

Revolution Diary – Morsi Falls, July 3 2013

It’s starting to smell like revolution in Tel Aviv. There is revolution in the air.

The facebooks blazed with the news that Morsi has been deposed in Egypt and I was frantically sweeping through my feeds.  I share Heidi’s status. She says her mom burst into tears when the news came through. Tears.

Shmuel suddenly materializes, one of the regular beggars who rounds the cafes, his eyes begging for money, my eyes responding with blank – I have none left to give they tell him and its true. We are all here in the collective squeeze.

I return to the computer.  Blaze, facebooks blaze.

Cigarettes too expensive to smoke, Arak to expensive to drink. Tomorrow night outside Lapid’s House. Attacks on Ruth Calderon’s wall. Police sexually assault protesters, A farmer in the north hangs himself. Another family is thrown onto the streets. Daily now there were meetings and daily there were arrests and July 14 is less than two weeks away.

The heat was getting hotter and wetter, trapping the exhaust fumes in a sticky noxious gasoline mesh. People were spontaneously combusting in anger. Burn this place, yelled one of the crazies, literally exploding in rage on the street.

“We are with you brother.” We yell back as he stumbles away, still under the illusion that he is alone in his suffering.

It was obvious enough to us. As long as everyone thinks they are alone in their suffering the revolution stays out of reach, and the suffering simply cycles along.  But there’s that moment when everyone realizes they are in it together. It is not that the nation suddenly unites, it is that they suddenly realize they are united. United in suffering, untied in pain. One people trapped together in the same sweltering sweat box.

It was as if the fires raging around the Middle East mixed with the wet mental heat of Tel Aviv summer were conspiring to push everyone over the brink simultaneously. The bourgeous still filled the restaurants and the papers still reported what happened in the television shows but the veneer was getting thinner and thinner. Too many front pages were being filled with the scenes of revolution and the scenes of victory and it was becoming too obvious to deny.

The protests were returning to Israel.

The Coming of the Virteoisie

There is a new social class forming before our very eyes.

Mass protests around the world have been promoted and coordinated via social media.

Despite the fact that their identity is still forming, their awareness still dim and their program still in the most infantile and elementary stages of emergence, the members of this new class have already seized the historical initiative and boldly strut onto the stage of political power, toppling governments, intimidating regimes and frightening the masters of industry and capital.

They are the virteoisie – the citizens of cyberspace, the users of social networking technologies.

The Virteoisie. The social web has actually enabled the development of an entirely new social class. Not defined by economics but defined by usage of information.

The Virteoisie. The social web has actually enabled the development of an entirely new social class. Not defined by economics but defined by usage of information.

 

 

The virteoisie are both the creators of the new political reality and its primary beneficiaries. As states become more modernized, the virteoisie become more critical; as industries become increasingly computerized they become increasingly powerful. As information technology grows and penetrates every single aspect of life, the virteoisie grow and penetrate every aspect of the state.

Their infrastructure is the infrastructure of the new economy, their knowledge is entwined and embedded into the critical systems of the state and of industry. Attempts to curb their power retards growth, attempts to prevent their ascension prevents progress.  To resist them is to stand blindly and foolishly against the irresistible tide of history itself.

The classes who presently hold power naively invoke all the ancient methods of domination to resist their onslaught. From the crude deployment of violence in the Middle Eastanachronistic forms of media manipulation in Russia and impotent legislative action and regulatory wishful thinking in the Western hemisphere, the current power elite have become the priests of a dying religion wailing desperately to a crippled god who faces imminent extinction.

Police deploy clouds of teargas to disperse and intimidate protesters. (Taksim Square, Turkey 2013)

For the virteoisie cannot be stopped or restrained. With each new price reduction in the cost of information hardware the ranks of the virteoisie swellWith each new implementation of communication technology the organizational abilities of the virteoisie increase and as each new layer of computerization becomes critical to the functioning of the state apparatus the virteoisie’s inevitable triumph comes closer and closer.

The confusion of responses to the virteoisie, coupled with the virteoisie’s own inchoate class-consciousness is to be expected, for the virteoisie is the most rapidly forming and swiftly growing social class in both raw quantity and political power in the history of the human race. Scarcely a single one of the technologies that have proven instrumental in their creation existed at the time of their birth and thus the virteoisie as a class have existed for barely a decade.

The virteoisie’s rapid materialization represents a threat only to those who wish to cling to the last vestiges of a decaying social structure that is being dragged ever deeper into the trash-pile of obsolescence. For the state that is prepared and willing to embrace the virteoisie holds within its grasp the most significant opportunity available to states in our time. For the state that works with the virteoisie, actively nurtures it and willingly adapts its internal structures to its prerogatives the rewards of prosperity, social harmony and enlightenment know no bounds.

Thus this nascent virteois class is the harbinger of one of the most significant transformations in the history of the world thus far. Their emergence heralds the destruction of the once  mighty and supreme industrial state and its imminent replacement by the exponentially more powerful, more adaptive and more prosperous virtual state.

The Mystery of Agriculture’s Origin

The Bounty of Agriculture

For the better part of the past hundred years the origin of agriculture was seen as the key piece in the jigsaw puzzle that would explain the mystery of civilization. For anyone who had engaged in a serious analysis of societies over history, the use of large scale agriculture seemed to be the single most defining and ubiquitous feature of that complex of behaviours that had come to be called civilization.

The rationale was simple enough to understand. Agriculture has two special effects on human societies.

In the first instance it converts man from a mobile nomad into a sedentary farmer. The hunter-gatherer was at the mercy of the land. He followed its rhythms and tempos. He would move according to the seasons, cooler and warmer, dryer and wetter – to the places where the weather of the particular season favoured the availability of particular food stuffs.

 

The temporary encampments of the unter-gathers allowed for constant mobility.

 

Agriculture, on the other hand, demands that the hunter-gather cease his meanderings and become permanently settled. Like small children, the crops require constant love and attention. There are now planting seasons, growing seasons and harvesting seasons. Instead of allowing the land to yield its bounty on her own timetable, the farmer becomes an active participant in the process of creation – and that elevation to divine status comes at the cost of mobility.

The second key effect of agriculture is the ability of the society to create food surpluses. Like all biological species, with a major increase in available food supply and a decrease in natural predators, populations begin to increase. Humans had faced no serious predators in tens of thousands of years and with the new science of agriculture at her disposal, humanity’s population began to skyrocket – a trajectory that has not abated for the last ten thousand years.

It all seemed simple enough. The sedentary lifestyle and increased food were clear advantages over the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and thus the progress to civilization seemed inevitable.

Except for one small thing.

It is certainly true that the surpluses provided by large-scale organized agriculture dwarf the day-to-day yields of hunting and gathering.  However, this applies only to large scale, organized and advanced agriculture. What of small-scale locally organized primitive agriculture? How does it compare to the hunter gatherer lifestyle?

The answer, to put it somewhat unceremoniously, is pretty awfully.

The hunter-gatherer can, in but a few hours of work easily supply her body with its daily requirement of 2000 calories. Moreover, these calories come from a wonderfully diverse variety of foodstuffs. Fruits, vegetables, even wild grasses and legumes and of course a plethora of animal products all make the hunter-gatherer diet infinitely superior to the diet of the primitive agriculturalist who for the most part is forced to subsist on porridges made of the simplest grains.

A modern depiction of the hunter-gatherer diet. It is incredibly rich in nutrients and diversity.

 

The early agriculturalist works long, long hours in bitter servitude to the harsh taskmaster that is the land. Echoing the curse of Adam, the earth that once yielded freely to the hunter-gatherer becomes the scourge of the farmer. Thorns and thistles does it yield and only by the sweat of his brow can he bring forth his bread.

And the list goes on and on. While a mature and sophisticated agricultural empire, the likes of Sumer or Egypt, China or the Inca, is clearly a major advance over the hunter-gatherer culture, the same simply cannot be said of the primitive phases of agriculture.

Agriculture in Sapa, Vietnam. As primitive as this looks, this is still a major advance over the most primitive forms, which would have been done without heavy animals or ploughs.

 

And to compound the mystery further – while the archaeological record demonstrates the origin of agriculture at roughly 10,000 years before the present, we know of advanced cities only in the past 6,000 years. Which means that agriculture remained a somewhat primitive endeavour for the better part of 4,000 years!

And here, in the proverbial nutshell is the great mystery of history. If agriculture was in virtually all ways a step backwards for the first humans who practiced it, why on earth did they bother? How did the once free and noble hunter-gathereres allow themselves to be trapped within a way of life that was harsh and bitter. It made no sense, it seemed to fly against the face of all laws of evolution.

There was simply no discernible advantage to early agriculture over the previous forms of human social and technological behaviour.

The Techno-Social Complex

Technology is an extension or augmentation to the human body.

Society is the network of individual human beings aggregated into a structure to increase their overall energy extraction efficiency and overall total complexity of the individuals combined.

Although technology and society have been historically analysed as two distinct and separate phenomena,  they are entirely interconnected and integrated.

The shape, structure and function of a society will be entirely determined by the technology that a society possesses. Society is a function of the available technology and technology is developed from within the needs and constraints of the society.

Moreover, society itself is a technology, in the sense that it is another bodily extension. That is to say, there is no innate and “natural” social structure for human beings. The individual human mind has the evolutionary advantage of being able to conceive of itself as belonging to increasingly larger and more complex groups.

The only form of society that could be considered natural is the immediate family group. Historically this did not extend beyond a few individuals. The absolute largest extension to which we could still possibly apply the term natural would be 150 individuals (the Dunbar number) but just because the human neo-cortex has the capacity to process 150 relationships, that does not mean that groups ever grew to that size without the conscious manipulation of human beings.

We do know, however, that there are certain species of animals that can be “fooled” into believing that they are part of a different herd than their natural, genetic one.  They lose their basic family identification and become absorbed within a larger social arrangement. It is this  ability that is common to domesticable mammals, as a human can effectively “fool” the animals into becoming part of much larger herds than could ever evolve without human interference.

Just like the animals we domesticate, human beings have an ability to belong to potentially infinitely large social groups, ones that have little or no bearing on what could be sensibly called a natural grouping. The precise technology of social aggregation is the ability to construct and manipulate symbols, aggregating human beings together through shared symbolic frameworks.

Thus two mutually dependent evolutionary processes begin – the development of increasingly sophisticated material bodily extensions – ie technology, and the development of increasingly sophisticated social bodily extensions – ie societies.

Our language and conceptual universe has thus far been largely ignorant of the fact that a society is a purely artificial construction, in the way that a knife or a saddle or a computer are artificial constructions.  Our language has clearly demarcated between a society and its technology, seeking to understand the effect of technology on society, presupposing that society could even exist in any form that would be recognizable if its technology were removed.

Our language requires a new word to describe this phenomenon, the complete integration of the social aggregation with their physical bodily extensions. This integration is a complete regime that will fundamentally determine the shape and quality of any given society, this regime fundamentally is the society.

Until our imagination improves we shall content ourselves with the term techno-social complex.

And to explain, hunter-gathering is a techno-social regime. It is a conscious social aggregation beyond the most immediate family unit that is possible only because of the key physical technologies of the hunter-gatherer society. Thus all hunter-gatherer societies, be they Pintjantjarra or Navajo or so on, exist within a single techno-social regime. What separates them are the different symbolic identities they carry and the different territories which they occupy, but they are fundamentally of the same form.

 

Social Systems: The Technology of Artificial Aggregation

The key human technology, indeed the technology that underpins all the other technologies is the human ability to work with other human beings and artificially aggregate human beings together to form social systems.

The objective of the social system is to harness the combined efforts of human beings to extract amounts of energy from the environment that are in excess of the energy needs of the individual human beings. That is, the social aggregation is what converts the human being from an intelligent and hairless ape into the true master of the world. The social aggregation stands behind all the successes of the human species.

The Judgement of Solomon – Coded References

The Judgement of Solomon, Valentin de Boulogne 1625

The Judgement of Solomon is one of the bible’s most famous stories.

Two prostitutes appear before Solomon with a babe of questioned parentage. Both women claim to be the mother. Neither will back down. The King proposes the following solution: That he take a sword and literally cleave the baby in two, rendering exactly half of the child to each would-be mother.

One harlot immediately consents to the fairness of the plan, while the other wails and prostrates herself before the King, beseeching him to let the baby live, even if it go to her rival. The King then reveals his true intention all along. He had merely been endeavoring to ascertain the child’s true parentage. The woman who would rather lose the child than see it cut in two was thus proven to be the real mother. Everyone goes home. The story finishes.

But it is the context that reveals the true meaning behind the story.

The Davidic Crown was still not secure. With the death of David and the brutal ascension of Solomon it was still not clear that the Tribal confederation would still agree to the executive rule of the House of Judah.

While the tribes had accepted the necessity of unity, first under Saul and then David, this acceptance had truly been as the Talmud would say, in the shaat had’chak, at a time of extraordinary urgency. The threat of the Philistines and the prospect of total victory had finally been the correct carrot and stick combination to bring the tribes into line.

With the war long over, and with enough time to understand the full implications of an Executive State structure, it was not so certain that the tribes would continue to watch their freedoms erode at the hands of the central government that had grown out of all size and proportion to any secular power wielded by the tribes.

The Chapter opens with Solomon visiting the nation’s holiest shrine in Gibeon, a Levite town in Benjaminite heartlands. Solomon is quick to notice the cultural significance of the town to the populace and from this moment dreams of establishing a single centralized temple in Jerusalem to consolidate the Hebrew speaking peoples into a singular cult under a single State system.

And then immediately after this scene we come to the story of the two harlots and their babe.

The meaning is thus easily enough deduced.

The babe is the nation of Israel. One harlot represents to constant voice of the tribal confederation, straining against the enforced unity of the state structure. The other woman represents the voice of the Crown, of centralization. The moral is abundantly clear: Those who would see the newly formed nation re-sundered are to be despised and ridiculed. Unity and unity alone will be the high-ground in the centralist morality.

The story itself may be a code for a far more brutal action. Given the context of Solomon’s rise to power it is not all unimaginable that he turned the new found powers of the state, built from the amalgamation of the tribes into a single army, to crush all internal dissent.

To see the verses in the original text:

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt09a03.htm

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