Right-wing MK: Israeli Social Activists Seek to Turn Rabin Square Into Tahrir Square

In a heated Knesset discussion, Likud's Miri Regev accuses Saturday night's social justice protesters of trying to overthrow the government.

Social justice activists who participated in the demonstration in Tel Aviv over the weekend are left-wing extremists who want to overthrow the government and don't really ask for social change, MK Miri Regev (Likud) said Wednesday during a discussion in the Knesset.

"They are not asking for social change, but protesting for the sake of protesting," Regev accused the demonstrators, adding that the "left-wing extremists wish to turn Rabin Square (in Tel Aviv) into Tahrir Square and overthrow the government. Acts of vandalism, confronting policemen, struggles of power – all done in order to win media coverage."

Police arrested 89 demonstrators after more than 6,500 people converged in and around Tel Aviv's Habima Square on Saturday night, protesting the arrest of Daphni Leef, a leader of last summer's social protest movement, on Friday.

The protesters blocked Ibn Gabirol Street north to Rabin Square, before moving and blocking Ayalon highway. Around 20 demonstrators were removed by police after breaking into branches of Hapoalim, Leumi and Discount banks.

Over the weekend, Regev said, the social activists revealed their true faces. "The problems are not solved by the shattering of glass and by groups of anarchists operating against the state," she said, asking "who is Daphni Leef? Who does she represent? You've put on enough performances. Clear the way for the real leaders."

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch also condemned the rampaging demonstrators: "they threw water, eggs and stones at policemen." Aharonovitch added that the protesters wrote on the car of the head of operations in the Tel Aviv police "bad regime," a word play on the Hebrew word Police.

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) criticized Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai's refusal to allow activists to erect tents in the city's Rothschild Boulevard. "He needs to understand that it is not his personal space, but a public space," Khenin said, "he sent his municipal inspectors and they used force without authority."

Khenin did not spare any criticism from the police, claiming that instead of arresting the inspectors, they joined them. "It has awoken an enormous, justified rage," he said, "the protest on Saturday night expressed that rage. We were fighting for our right to fight for social justice."

Khenin asked to make clear that violence was not used by most of the demonstrators: "you cannot stick one broken glass to hundreds of thousands of Israelis who were protesting. The majority has supported and is supporting this protest. Anyone who hits should stand on trial, even if he is a police district chief."