Israel's 'Tent Protests': the chilling effect of nationalism

2015-07-10T09:19:36Z (GMT) by Uri Gordon
The Israeli ‘Tent Protest’ movement enjoyed wide popular support, but displayed a distinct lack of political radicalism. Not only did calls for discrete welfare policies replace explicit anti-capitalism, but there was a widespread insistence on the movement’s ‘apolitical’ nature and an avoidance of any direct confrontation with the neoliberal Netanyahu government or calls for new elections. The article argues that these anomalies can be explained by the chilling effect of the patriotic, state-loyalist discourses which reached unprecedented prominence in Israeli society in the past year. This led movement participants to avoid at all costs being perceived as left-wing and disloyal, and created an atmosphere of deliberate self-censorship which silenced any engagement with the Israeli–Palestinian conflict during the mobilization. The movement is understood here as an all-too-brief interlude in Israel’s ongoing move away from democracy.