Protest Tent Cities Demolished in Israel as Social Justice Activists Vow a Return to the Streets

Originally published on Tikkun Daily

Social justice protesters chant in anger as police and city officials tear down tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv’s iconic tent city on Rothschild Boulevard – where Israel’s social justice protest movement was born three months ago – was demolished today by municipal authorities and police amidst the anguished cries of those being evacuated and the angered chants of activists.

Many of the evicted, who were homeless and have nowhere else to go, had found refuge in the tent city. They had also taken solace in the movement’s efforts to fight for economic justice on their behalf and on behalf of millions of lower- and middle-class Israelis struggling to survive as the gaps between the rich and the poor grow.

Oren Ziv, a photojournalist for Activestills – a collective of independent photographers in Israel – witnessed the eviction of protesters and the homeless from their tents, and captured these powerful images:

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Meanwhile, Daphni Leef – the face of Israel’s protest movement and the woman who began everything on July 14 when she camped on Rothschild Boulevard as an act of civil disobedience – has pledged a return to the massive street rallies that rocked Israel this summer.

This pledge was made after protest leaders unanimously rejected recommendations for economic reforms made by the Trajtenberg Committee – a panel established by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in August amidst the intense pressure of swelling protests and plummeting public opinion. While the committee suggested reforms in the areas of education, housing and workers’ rights, Leef expressed outrage during a press conference at the limited scope the committee’s work:

This committee received a limited charter, a pathetic charter, and it fulfilled that charter completely. We asked for a root canal and instead got our teeth cleaned. The summer of 2011 may be over, but our protest continues…We will not be mocked any longer or taken for granted. I have listened to and read all of the [committee’s] recommendations. They included nothing that aided the weaker and weakened, the single mothers, the elderly, the sick, the contract workers. They threw some bones to the middle class, but the middle class is dwindling away.

After presenting an alternate budgetary vision crafted by protesters and a panel of economic experts, Leef added:

Social justice is a social budget, a just budget, [one in which] weaker sections of society are bolstered, society as a whole is bolstered, including the middle class. When they are weakened we are all dragged down. We demand a new social budget, an accountable budget, one which takes the citizen under consideration, and first and foremost the weak and weakened citizen.

Leef and the social justice protest leaders are promising a return to the streets when the Knesset reconvenes on October 29.

It’s worth noting that, while Netanyahu had praised the committee’s recommendations, his cabinet today rejected the Trajtenberg report, demonstrating the immense divide between the will of the protesters and the will of those holding Israel’s seats of power.

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Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG
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About David Harris-Gershon

David Harris-Gershon – a blogger for Tikkun magazine and a freelance writer on Israel, the Middle East and America’s role in the region – has recently published work in The Jerusalem Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, AlterNet, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Colorado Review and elsewhere. His memoir – What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? – is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications (2013). He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and has worked extensively as an educator, teaching creative writing and Israeli History / Jewish Studies in university and high school classrooms. Follow David on Twitter @David_EHG

Posted on October 3, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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