Israeli Social Justice Leaders Call for Reprise of 2011 Rallies

Several events are planned this weekend to mark the protests' anniversary.

Social protest leader Daphni Leef unleashed a scathing attack against the finance minister on Tuesday and called for people to come out into the streets again this weekend, the second anniversary of 2011's massive street protests against the high cost of living.

"Yair Lapid, you hitched a ride on the social protest, but overnight transformed into an even more brutal successor to [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's policy," said Leef, who played a leading role in the 2011 protests, during an outdoor press conference at Tel Aviv's Gan Meir Park.

"You know how to talk the protest talk, but you don't know how to carry it out," she charged. "You're playing on people's hopes. You're asking us to preserve the spark of hope for another two years, but we have news for you: We know a lot more now. We don't have two years to wait. You're a liar and a cynic."

"I don't have anything personal against Yair Lapid," Leef told TheMarker afterward. "But he was the public's choice and was elected on the back of the protest. He spoke about sharing the burden, but forgot that it also means sharing the economic burden. With all due respect to his standing as finance minister, he needs to understand that he's about to seal the fate of millions of people. The current budget is the most aggressive one in a long time."

Calling for a demonstration to be held in Tel Aviv this Saturday, Leef told the press conference, "I hear people talking and asking how this will help. But this government is a product of the social protest. There wouldn't have been a Likud Beiteinu [the joint slate run by the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties] if they hadn't gotten scared and tried to join forces, and there wouldn't have been a Yesh Atid [Lapid's party], with its cynical exploitation of the protest, if there hadn't been a social protest.

"The government will fall if it doesn't change direction now and stop this budget, and it has nothing to do with left or right," she added.

Yitzhak Elrov, one of the organizers of the cottage cheese boycott that helped spark the 2011 protests, cited a column written by Lapid that year, in which he said that "everyone who took to the streets yesterday for the demonstration walked in fear of being exploited, of someone distorting his intentions, of cynics trying to steal the demonstration."

To which Elrov responded, "Two years have since elapsed and nothing has changed, and because the cynics did manage to steal it from the public, and especially because the oppressive cost of living has only gotten worse, we are returning here again. The battle against the cost of living unites 99% of Israelis: religious and secular, Arabs and Jews, women and men. We are all banding together and demanding change."

Several events are planned this weekend to mark the protests' anniversary.

On Saturday, a march will be held from Tel Aviv's Habima Square to Kaplan Street, where a vigil will be maintained until Sunday morning, July 14 - the date on which the social justice protests began in 2011.

Michal Fattal