Dairy Farmers, Right-wing Activists Join Israel Housing Protest

Thousands of farmers march in Tel Aviv protesting reform in dairy industry; right-wing activists visit tent city, call on government to solve housing crisis.

Thousands of dairy farmers marched in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday chanting "Bibi fight the tycoons, not the dairy farmers" and "Bibi is against the dairy farmers."

The farmers are protesting a planned reform in the dairy industry, which would lower the price they would get for their milk and increase imports of dairy products. The farmers say these recommendations run counter to a law enacted just this past March that enshrines the farmers' rights.

Dairy protest - Nir Keidar - August 3, 2011
Nir Keidar

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Approximately 200 right-wing activists marched from Habima Square, shouting "No to bringing down the government, yes to solving the crisis."

The activists also said they want a solution to the housing crisis and called on the government to lower the price of basic products by 20 percent. Extremist Baruch Marzel also came to Rothschild Boulevard and spoke to some of the protesters.

The organizations that took part in the right-wing march included Im Tirzu, Zo Artzenu, Yisrael Sheli, Bnei Akiva, Ra'ananim, The Committee of South Tel Aviv Neighborhoods, and Yesha council representatives. One of the activists said that the housing protest is "a wake up call" for the people and for the government, yet added that "there shouldn't be call for anarchy and to bring down the government."

On Tuesday, director of the settlers' Yesha council, Naftali Bennett, visited the tent city in Tel Aviv and talked to students.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday dismissed a growing nationwide protest movement over the spiraling cost of living in Israel as "a populist wave [that] is sweeping the country."

His comments came shortly after lawmakers passed a controversial housing bill that will see the establishment of national committees to approve new housing projects, a move that angered leaders of the housing protest movement. In response, the activists said new protests will take place in the coming days, culminating in a mass rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday - the third such protest in as many weeks.