Israel's Social Protest 'Superheroes' to Hold Their Very Own Purim Parade

Activists to stage their own holiday parade, with emphasis on social justice heroes.

Among this year's run-of-the mill Purim parties and parades, one event is likely to be memorable - a procession of specially created social-protest superheroes.

At 11 A.M. the parade will set out at the Sportek sports grounds in North Tel Aviv, head for Rothschild Boulevard, Levinsky Park and the Central Bus Station. At 3 P.M. it will arrive in Hatikva Park in south Tel Aviv and end at a bus dressed up as a spaceship.

Adloyada - Vaknin - 8.3.12
Ofer Vaknin

The bus will head for Petah Tikva, home to the Strauss food company, a bugaboo in the social protesters' fight against Israel's high cost of living.

On Wednesday, a small apartment shared by roommates on Yehuda Halevi Street became the headquarters for this novel parade, a twist on Purim's traditional Adloyada spectacle.

On one wall activists pinned a list of materials needed for costumes, while on the floor 10 people were busy cutting and sewing. On a computer screen there were two Excel lists of superheroes - good guys and bad guys.

Oded Rosen, a former high-tech expert, showed off a yellow cape that would be draped over the shoulders of Captain 14J, a good guy named after the day the social protest started, July 14.

But Rosen was only wearing it for the fitting - he would be going to the parade as Treasury Boy - a villain who spends his days figuring out how to rob single moms and sell Israel Railways to private owners, who will cause train wrecks.

The social action parade was planned by a group in the social protest movement known as the Qixote Committee, which seeks to place art and design at the protest's service.

One of the activists, Leora Yokela, had seen a clip about a Halloween parade of social protest superheroes organized by Occupy Wall Street. So Purim was the perfect opportunity for the Jewish version.

The project has been going on for three days, says a girl who gave her name as Ma'ayan, who lives in the apartment expropriated by the costumers. "The downstairs neighbor is probably ready to kill us," she says. "We're very excited and jumping up and down all the time."

The talk of the project is the Tycoonosaurus outfit. Only the sketch was ready on my visit to the costume command center: a huge cape on which luxury residential towers and oil rigs were painted. The honor of playing the Tycoonosaurus goes to Barak Cohen, the attorney who freed activists arrested during the protest. His friends say he has the look of a real villain.

A lot of effort is going into the costumes, which are being paid for by a fund-raising drive - by the social activists.

One of the costume-makers, Yael, shows me a good-guy costume with scales of justice on it. I tell her it looks a bit biblical. "There's something very Canaanite, very Levantine about our costumes," she concedes. "The figures in the Occupy Wall Street parade were more like comics than our version."

The discussion turns to the evils of store-bought costumes. "My grandmother used to sew our costumes, and that's the way it should be," says Yael.

"All the costumes they give the kids today have something to do with capitalism," adds Maya Riemer, who will be dressed up as Radioactive Fallout.

The costumes for girls make them look slutty, some people agreed. "I saw 9-year-old girls dressed up as policewomen with a crazy mini," says Adi Peled. "I saw a slutty Queen Esther today," Yael recalls.

I go back to the computer to see what was coming up. On the good side was Lady Abundance, and in the evil column Lobbyist Army, Mega Polluter and Spinomat.

But beyond the good time they've been having for the past few days, Riemer says "there's been an amazing awakening. Until about six months ago I worked in a news organization. Today my life is completely changed."

According to another woman, "Since the protests I've realized that there are so many things I want to do. I realized that the system isn't working for most people. I used to think only about how to get ahead, how to write another line on my resume. How to get something more."

In walks Yokela, straight from a late workday, telling everyone she fell asleep on the bus. "I want to hug you for five minutes, says Rosen, the Treasury Boy. "He's channeling his inner hippie," Yokela says.

The chit-chat is cut short when a bearded man sticks his head in the room. "We need somebody for the police informer costume," he says. Then the works resumes.