Meet the Israeli Emigre Who Sparked the Berlin Pudding Protest

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
An Israeli protester wears an 'I love Berlin' T-shirt at a Tel Aviv rally.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The man behind the Facebook campaign urging Israelis to immigrate to Berlin due to the high cost of living at home has finally revealed his identity: Naor Narkis, 25, who sparked the "Milky protest" says he never imagined his post about a chocolate pudding snack would trigger such controversy in Israel and abroad.

Narkis revealed his identity over the weekend to Israel's Channel 10 news and to the Washington Post.

In his interview with Channel 10, he said that living in Berlin, at least for now, is a no-brainer. But, he said of his campaign, "I didn't realize it would cause such an international uproar."

"When you understand that the cost of living in Tiberias is identical to that in Berlin, you don’t think twice," he said.

"I prefer to live in Tel Aviv, but it's too expensive for me. Here I spend 30 percent less on food and rent, and I still have money left over to go out and have fun," he said of the German capital.

Israelis in Berlin, he said, "are living in the capital of the strongest country in Europe and are saving money here to buy an apartment in a missile-stricken country in the Middle East. It's a surreal situation."

Narkis' Facebook page, called Olim LeBerlin – which plays on the word aliyah, referring to immigration to Israel – was posted anonymously in late September. His campaign gained momentum and sparked outrage after he posted a picture of a receipt showing the German equivalent of the Milky chocolate pudding snack costing a fraction of what it costs in Israel.

He told the Washington Post he was revealing himself now so that he could promote his message about the cost of living publicly.

He rebuffed claims by some that he was working for a German real estate company, saying that he offers language classes via Skype and works as a mobile app developer.

He feels especially bad about the reactions he's received from Holocaust survivors, he told the Washington Post.

“I understand their feelings about Berlin, and I take them very seriously. And I also love my country, Israel.” But, he said, the Israeli government needs to understand that the cost of living is “forcing young people into exile.”

The Ramat Gan native served in the Israeli army's Intelligence Corps for six years, and moved to France about a year ago after being discharged. From there, he continued to Berlin.

When Israelis arrive in Berlin, they are in complete shock, he told Channel 10. "They don't understand how they agreed to pay so much for such basic products," he said. "Here I don’t think twice before putting a package of schnitzel [chicken cutlets] in my shopping cart. Here it costs 15 shekels [about $4]. It's a different world."