Protest Leaders Present Their Vision for Social Justice in Israel

Leaders present 'Vision Document' outlining six principles in a 'framework of investment for a new socio-economic agenda'; document distributed among tent cities throughout Israel for comment.

Leaders of the tent city protest, along with student leadership and representatives of social organizations and youth groups, issued a joint statement Monday presenting what they see as the main principles behind their struggle for social justice.

The Vision Document, as they called it, is titled a "Framework of investment for a new socio-economic agenda" and begins with a quote from Israel's Declaration of Independence. It was distributed among the protest tent cities throughout Israel for comments.

Mass protest 6/8/11
Tomer Appelbaum

"For a number of decades, the various governments of Israel have opted for an economic policy of privatization that leaves the free market without reins," the document states. "This economic policy, which is presented by those who lead it as precise science and as necessitated by circumstances, has become our daily existence - a war for survival to subsist with dignity."

The document outlines six principles for an alliance between the state and its citizenry: minimizing social inequalities (economic, gender-based and national ) and creating social cohesion; altering the main principles of the economic system; lowering the cost of living, achieving full employment and state-imposed price controls on basic items; giving a clear priority to the areas on the outskirts of cities, both in the social and the geographic sense; treating the essential needs of the weaker population in the country, with an emphasis on the handicapped, the elderly and the sick; investment by the state in its citizenry in the fields of education, health and personal safety, and providing genuine solutions to the housing shortage, from transportation to public infrastructure.

The protesters also prepared another document that details specific demands, but they decided not to release it at this stage because there is no dialogue with the government. Its main points were published for the first time in Haaretz last week.

Among the demands are the reduction of indirect taxes; investing of surpluses in tax revenues in the citizenry through the state budget; ending privatization; increasing rent stipends to those who are entitled to aid; lowering the number of pupils per class; and increasing doctors, hospital beds and equipment in the health system.

Hundreds of retirees demonstrated in front of the government compound in Tel Aviv in solidarity with the social protesters. They carried signs that read, "Pensioners demand social justice," and "Bibi, go home."

Joined in the demonstration by youth groups, the final speaker summed it up: "Solidarity between us and the young generation is what will determine this social campaign in the land."

Also joining the tent city on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv yesterday were Holocaust survivors and taxi drivers.

Meanwhile, the Knesset has decided to hold a special session next Tuesday to discuss the social protest. The meeting will be held following a request by the opposition factions.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin agreed to hold the meeting as early as tomorrow. However, he was asked to wait until next week.

Kadima said that the Knesset meeting will be held under the banner, "The tax government of Netanyahu is cut off from the nation and belittles the public protest."