Is the Social Protest Returning to the Streets?

Finance Minister Yair Lapid's budget proposals have stirred up public ferment. A series of demonstrations are planned for the coming weekend.

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The economic decrees slated to land with a resounding thud on many Israelis are beginning to stir a public ferment – and it's being channeled toward demonstrations and protest.

Today the Ma’abara (Transit Camp) and the Lo Nehmadim (Not Nice) groups are expected to gather for a demonstration in front of Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s home in Ramat Aviv, following the Finance Ministry’s budget proposal for 2013-2014.

On Saturday evening these organizations are planning to demonstrate about the export of natural gas, opposite Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom’s home at the Elite junction in Ramat Gan.

Moshe Cohen of Lo Nehmadin has said the demonstration across from Lapid’s home is expected to last well into the night.

Apparently there will be another demonstration at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. This demonstration is being organized by social activists Alon-Lee Green, Or Shai, Liat Biron and Shira Steinitz. The Facebook event page for the demonstration opens under the heading: “Yallah to the streets! Giant march: Take from the tycoons and not from us.” Within two hours the initiative raked in 20,000 people.

“The government’s decrees are total insensitivity and it is with reason that Facebook has been a volcano of rage in recent days,” says Green. “In contrast to the previous protest, this time we are coming with a series of solutions for the government: Instead of imposing taxes on us, impose them on the giant corporations. Instead of cutting child allowances – cut at the settlements. Why not raise the company tax even more? The public is feeling like it has been cheated. This will be a more mature and sober protest. I am calling upon everyone who feels a partner to the public frustration with the decrees to join us.”

Though Green is experienced in organizing demonstrations, he is planning a far more spontaneous event than the tent protest of two year ago. “There aren’t going to be rallies here and stages and discussions about who speaks first and who is a partner,” he says. “We have chosen a time and a place, and anyone who is opposed to having to give to the settlers and the tycoons and to taking from the weaker strata is invited to come.”

"Lapid is no different from Steinitz"

It seems the parents’ protest of 2011 is coming back to the streets in the framework of the “stroller march.” The reason is that according to the budget that is taking shape, of all the recommendations of the Trajtenberg committee in the area of education, the only provision that will remain is free compulsory education from age 3. Other recommendations, like opening subsidized after-school programs and subsidies of parents’ payments to schools have been frozen.

One of the initiators of the protest is Tali Brill, 40, a mother of three from Rishon Letzion who was involved in the parents’ activity in the summer 2011 protest. Brill is organizing a parents' march Thursday at 6 P.M. in the city where she lives, which is expected to spread to other cities like Ra’anana and Haifa.

While a year ago the prime minister’s page was the prime Facebook target for protest, now the page has gone pretty much silent with a picture from the visit to China, which is attracting mainly Zionist enthusiasm. The fire has jumped to the page maintained by Lapid, who is known for his extensive activity on the social network, where he is being subjected to barrages of criticism and angry reactions from the enraged public.

The height of the social justice protests in Tel Aviv, August 2011.Credit: Tal Cohen
Alon-Lee GreenCredit: Daniel Bar On

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