Three Weeks into the Israeli Protest: How is public opinion changing?

From the Press
Mako | August 8, 2011 | Amit Slonim

People say that the media are responsible for the inflated coverage of the tent protest, but the truth is that this revolution was not created in the morning newspapers – and not even by Israeli TV personality Yonit Levi. The media reported that 300,000 people went into the streets and called for social justice, but this revolution is not really coming out of Tel Aviv’s tent city on Rothschild Boulevard. It started, gained momentum and gained a life of its own in online social networks.

Tweets took the place of the publicists; Facebook's news feed replaced newspaper headlines. The Israeli mentality is likewise encountered there: today's “anointed king” is liable to be executed in the town square tomorrow. That's how changeable the situation is.

From Buzzilla's analysis of user conversation on the social networks in the past three weeks, it can be speculated that, despite the hundreds of thousands who marched on Saturday night in the streets of Tel Aviv, and in spite of the media support, the Israeli user is now refusing to unconditionally support the cause.

According to research conducted especially for Mako, the many positive responses (45%) of users up until a week ago have become much less supportive (22%) in the past week. According to these responses, users have sensed protesters’ disagreement regarding the goals of the protest, have become critical of the political reasons for involvement, and are expressing lack of confidence in the protest leaders.

At the same time, the volume of responses opposing the protest jumped from 7% in previous weeks to 12% in the past week. In this context, it is interesting to note that the doctors' strike has continued to enjoy broad positive recognition by the community, remaining consistent throughout the past three weeks.

The main reason, but not the only reason, for the shift in online conversation about the tent cities over the past week is the consistent worry that the protest organizers are not focused. It seems that users are less enthusiastic about the "protesting for the sake of protesting" attempted by the organizers, and are instead trying to focus on solutions for specific problems – repeatedly mentioning reducing gasoline taxes, nullifying the National Housing Committee Law, and other possible measures.