Moshe Silman at a social protest in Haifa.
Moshe Silman at a social protest in Haifa. Photo by Hagai Fried
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The story of Moshe Silman, who was laid to rest on Sunday after succumbing to the injuries he suffered from his self-immolation last Saturday night, was not merely a "personal tragedy," as the prime minister evasively and deceitfully defined it.

Silman took this horrific step at a protest demonstration, after distributing his letter of rebuke to participants. His act was an attempt to cry out and wake up the public, not just because of the upheavals in his own life, but in the face of government policies.

Silman's financial decline was hardly exceptional on the Israeli landscape, and he's far from the only one to be battered by obtuse authorities. His cry cannot be allowed to die out. It must echo endlessly. It was a cry against the destructive policies of a government with priorities that are distorted from the ground up.

A government that has no problem finding enormous budgets to spend on the settlements, from moving the homes on Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood through the university at Ariel; a government with an inflated, excessive defense budget and that can fund disproportionate allowances to the ultra-Orthodox, is an anti-social government.

A welfare establishment that closes its heart to the distress of an individual, that acts heavy-handedly without any consideration, and sends people to live in the street as a condition for receiving even a minimal amount of help, is an obtuse and inhuman establishment. This is what Silman was protesting.

The state is alienated from its citizens and doesn't help them when they stumble and fall, as it is meant to do. It spreads generous safety nets under the Haredim and the settlers, and expends most of its budget on defense. If this order of things doesn't change, the lessons to be learned from Silman's death will dissipate and his death will become insignificant.

Just as it seemed that the social protest was dying, Silman's drastic step was a reminder that nothing has been solved and very little has changed since the wave of demonstrations last summer. What a pity that such a terrible step was needed as a prompt, but such a step must bring about a deep change to Israeli society and its priorities.

We dare not forget Silman and turn his death into a private matter, lest other citizens take such desperate measures, as happened yesterday in Yehud. We cannot ignore the cry, and must not forget it.