Saturday, August 6, 2011

Massive Israeli protests tonight for social justice

Very exciting - wish I had been there! 250,000-300,000 were at the demonstration in Tel Aviv, and about 30,000 in Jerusalem.

Haaretz report on the Jerusalem demonstration (my translation)
In parallel with the demonstration in Tel Aviv, tonight there were also demonstrations throughout Israel. In Jerusalem the massive demonstration began with a march from the tent city at Horse Park, through the center of the city, and then to the central rally at Paris Square. The demonstrations held up signs that read "Return to the welfare state," "Both right and left: education above everything" (it rhymes in Hebrew), "Pensioner and retired, grandfather who still is the breadwinner - until when?"

In the demonstration the leaders of the protest in Jerusalem spoke, among them the head of the student union in Jerusalem (Hebrew University) Itai Gotler, Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein from the rabbinic organization Tzohar, representatives of the teachers, people evicted from public housing, and Rachael Azariah, a member of the city council, and at the end also the writer Sayed Kashua (a writer for Haaretz).



Photo of the Jerusalem demonstration. The signs read: "Find an eye doctor for a blind government!" "The people want social justice!" "Give me justice!"

Another photo of Jerusalem, from above:
צילום: נועם מושקוביץ
From the Ynet coverage (my translation):
Demonstration of democratic unity: In Netanyahu's government they hoped that the social protest would die out, but last night it rose to a climax reverberating through the land, when at least 300,000 people from all parts of the political spectrum went out to the streets, from Kiryat Shemona to Eilat, with one thundering voice, lucid and clear: "The people have decided - social justice."
Ynet on the Jerusalem protest:
In the center of the rally (in Jerusalem) - a public reading of the (Israeli) Declaration of Independence, under the slogan - "Returning the state to the people." Thousands of people, among them the writer Meir Shalev, marched from Horse Park to Paris Square, close to the Prime Minister's house, carrying signs and calling for justice and equality. "Do business with your neighbor as yourself!" (A play on "Love your neighbor as yourself"). "No right and no left, social responsibility is above everything."

Meir Shalev said to Ynet - "My thinking is positive, optimistic, and passionate. I think that the involvement of the public in Israel with social issues and not with Rachel's Tomb or the Iranian bomb is something positive." In his words, "Enlisting the Israeli community and public in social issues is a positive turn. The Prime Minister must understand that he can't play tricks with us or threaten us. He has to relate to an entire generation of the public. He cannot relate to them in the usual way. It's impossible to sell us anymore the old world of Netanyahu. We need a country that considers its citizens and cares for them," he emphasized.
It's all very inspiring - and may it lead to a real change in the government and policies of Israel!

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