Israel's summer of discontent -- the political and economic stakes

Protest demonstrations have been mushrooming in Israel this summer.  Over the weekend, some150,000 people took to the streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other major cities with a wide variety of demands -- a halt to spiraling consumer prices for food, housing and other basic needs, a change in government priorities to spend more on social programs, all wrapped under the slogan of "social justice." The protests began a couple of weeks ago when young people in Tel Aviv set up tents in the median of one of the most fashionable boulevards.  The initial focus was on lack of affordable housing, but the agendas of some of the protesters have expanded considerably since then. Prime Minister Netanyahu moved quickly to express full sympathy with the protesters and to advance a host of government initiatives to tackle economic problems.  Netanyahu made it clear that the financial problems highlighted by the demonstrations are real and deserve a corresponding response from the...(Read Full Post)