the global coalition for democracy

Interview: The Tentifada Revolution

Interview: The Tentifada Revolution


In Israel around 300.000 protesters camp in Tel Aviv. Their action was called the "Tentifada-Movement". Romm Levkowicz, a political activist speaks about his experiences. He lives now in London.


Which were political motivations and aims for the movement?

I would say that the main aim is to politicize social issues and re-incorporate them into the public debate in Israel.

The "tentifada" movement has from its beginning no clear "political goal". It was heavily critiqued by both government officials and journalist for not putting out a clear set of demands. At no point it was a homogenic struggle, not in the profile of demonstrators and not in agenda. While it started with a small group of middle class tent dwellers demanding rent control and accessible housing plans, it was soon joined by many other groups. Their demands: cost of living, salaries, taxes, social justice, and so on- all of which where usually convinced as "non-politic" in Israeli discourse, where "right" or "left" positions refer to one stand towards the Palestinian conflict or Israel Jewish vs. Democratic character.

Do you have ideas or new conceptions, how to build an innovative democratic system in your country?

I think that the latest "uprising" had proved that something is wrong in the current Israeli democratic system. The parliament cannot be the sole representative mechanism of peoples will. An estimated 90% of the population supports the movement, however, it was not identified with any political party. Many criticized, that social rights are in the parliament neglected. What this movement calls for is a much more involved approach, where peoples pleas are taken into consideration continuously, and not only once in four years. Oh, and of course, its a bit hard to talk about a democratic system, while three million Palestinians in the occupied territories are completely excluded from participating and shaping their destiny. While the occupation itself was rarely addressed in the latest movement, there is obviously no social democracy without true democracy.

What do you think, why the protesters are so dissatisfied?

If you take the secular Jewish middle class- the reason is that people who graduate from top school, serve in the military, and work in lucrative jobs still struggle (especially in Tel Aviv) with paying insane rents, let alone buying a house. So the old formula of education+ job= prosperous life, which worked for previous generations, just doesn't work any more. Now people are confused- because the government is showing off how the economy is blooming, the unemployment rate is lower than most European countries and the recent joining to the OECD. So people started to realize that the problem does not be up with lack of money, but with the fact that only few people enjoy this prosperity , while others see nothing of it.

Why did it take so much time till the citizens, especially the younger generation, took to the street?

Last summer, all major demonstration in Israels history revolved around peace, war or settlements. The idea that theres a link between ones social or economical position and government policies, was only realized by small fragments of society. But when it finally erupted, no one expected the scales of support it had received.

What are your main ambition to join the protests?

Its hard to talk for myself, cause I wasn't there unfortunately- but there are plenty of ambitions: A. Politically, I am part of a minority in Israel, so its thrilling to final partake in something big with the ability of reaching a positive change. B. I was moved by the fact that it attracted people from all scales of society- female student leaders (a rare event in a highly militarized society), Jews and Palestinians, Orthodox and secular, Jewish Russian immigrant as well as Christian and Muslim African refugees. And theres the content of course- the demand for social justice- which I completely support.

What experience did you had during the weeks of protest activities or what did you heard about that?
The tents were erected right near where I used to live. I have heard from friends exciting stories, who were on the brinks of immigrating abroad out of desperation. There was a feeling in the air that something truly fundamental is taking place.

What do you think about direct democracy regimes, where the citizens can decide directly about laws?

Nowadays we see that all around the world citizens are not waiting for the regime to change, but practice direct democracy through social networks and by means of large scale and long lasting demonstrations (Israel, New York, Spain, India, Greece). I strongly support it, however, one must remember that democracy is not only a question of representation, but also about protecting basic rights and values, even when they contradict the will of the majority.

Do you think that DI contents can be of help for your causes? If so, what are your expectations wit regards to the establishing of such tools?

I believe that in this historic moment, when people are taking to the streets all over the world and practice DD in action, organizations like DI can be highly beneficial in both suggesting platforms of DD as well as study and report the democratic experiments of those movements.

Itamar Marom for Democracy International

Website Info

Democracy International is a registered association in Germany
(eingetragener Verein e.V.).

Gürzenichstraße 21 a-c
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 (0) 221 669 66 50
Fax: +49 (0) 221 669 665 99

Amtsgericht Köln
VR-Nr. 17139

Full website information here

Data protection - Datenschutz


Democracy International e.V.
IBAN: DE 58370205000001515101

Bank für Sozialwirtschaft
Konto: 1515101
BLZ: 37020500


Sign up

to our news, analyses and features on direct democracy worldwide!


Follow us