Trajtenberg Defends Leaders of Israeli Social Protest, Says They Are Simply 'Inexperienced'

Panel for socioeconomic change in Israel holds final meeting; promises to make recommendation by upcoming Jewish holidays.

The head of the government-appointed committee on socioeconomic change in Israel, Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, defended Wednesday the recent criticism cast upon the leaders of the social protest, and explained they were simply "inexperienced."

Wednesday marked the committee's last meeting with representatives from the public, which included the participation of 17 representatives from tent encampments from across the country.

Trajtenberg committee - 31.8.11
Tomer Appelbaum

At the beginning of the meeting Trajtenberg - who is the former chairman of the National Economic Council - said, "Without the social protests no committee would have been established under the title of 'socioeconomic change'. On the other hand, without this committee the protest would have slid into anarchy, like what has happened in other countries."

Trajtenberg also referred to the protest leaders, in particular to the initiator of the housing protest Daphni Leef. "I regret the criticism expressed toward the protest leaders," he said, adding that the huge extent of the social protests took these few young leaders by surprise. "They aren't professional leaders. How do they know how to lead such a perfect protest?"

Trajtenberg said that - despite criticism and cynicism expressed about the committee, which claimed it has minimal authority – the team is committed to presenting their recommendations, and promised to present them by the start of the upcoming Jewish holidays.

When the protest leaders asked the head of the committee whether the 2011-12 budget would be reopened, he said no, and warned them of the dangers of even attempting to reopen it. "If you push to open the budget, what will happen is that you will cause a situation like that which happened in the past, where they knew how to pour out money without any change to the situation actually occurring," he said.

Last week, the leaders of the social protest said the Trajtenberg committee does not have enough authority. Leef said at a press conference in Tel Aviv that the committee "was hastily established and is the most cynical, deceiving and cruel of them all."

According to Leef, the committee "willingly deceives the public, for while the public expects comprehensive change, the committee does not have the mandate nor authority to carry out such a change."