Ronny Sofer: Netanyahu spokesman slams protesters

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Ronny Sofer: People can’t make ends meet? Take away their credit lines.

Source: Globes, 7-31-11

After 150,000 Israelis took to the streets on Saturday night in protest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Ronny Sofer says that the protesters’ demands are overblown and Israel’s social conditions are not so bad.

Sofer participated in Channel 10’s morning current affairs program, which discussed the proliferating protests against the high cost of living. Although Sofer admitted, “There are segments of the population that suffer distress,” he did not spare his criticism of the protesters. “We also raised children, and we had a very hard time. We chose our homes on the basis our means,” he said.

In his perspective on Israel’s socioeconomic conditions and the protest of the middle class, Sofer said, “We should put things in proportion. When you travel along the Ayalon Highway in the morning, you see something like 10,000 cars. You look around, and the only construction and building standards are luxury apartments. You see 1.3 million people heading abroad this summer. So things aren’t so bad.”

As for the protesters’ demands for “social justice”, Sofer implied that they were communists who want equality for everyone. “Everyone wants to be equal, and they want to feel more equal; in other words, they want greater purchasing power. These things should be put in proportion. I’m afraid we’re not a communist country. We don’t all have the same standard of living. Some people have more and some people have less.”

Sofer said that Netanyahu was listening and denied that he was alienated. In the same breath, however, Sofer rushed to say, “He understands that there is a process that is growing stronger. A kind of exaggeration. But he is listening.”

Sofer also compared the Israeli economy to the economies of countries such as Greece and the US. He said, “Gentlemen, Israel is in excellent economic shape. Leave it alone, let’s talk about something greater. Do you know what’s happening in the US? In two days, it could be insolvent. If you act irresponsibly with the economy, you’re liable to end up like Greece, which will become insolvent.”

As for claims that many protesters cannot make ends meet, even with above average salaries, Sofer offered a solution. “There are people who claim that they can’t make ends meet? … Maybe their credit lines should be cancelled.”

Sofer cited his own life to remonstrate against the protesters: don’t live beyond your means, in utter insouciance of many of the protesters’ demands.

“Talk to me. I want complete honesty,” said Sofer. “The difficulties are tough. Raising a family today, enabling children to go to university, is not easy. When my kid – and she’s 25 and a university student – comes to me and says, ‘Daddy,’ I do what I can to help her. But if she says, ‘I want to live in Tel Aviv’ I reply, how much does that cost? I can’t help. If you manage to do it yourself, wonderful. Great. If not, lady, get a job, live somewhere you can afford.”

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Over 150,000 Israelis Protest Housing Costs in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Rest of Country

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

More than 150,000 take to streets across Israel in largest housing protest yet

Source: Haaretz, 7-31-11

Demonstrations held in more than 10 cities across Israel in bid to lower spiraling costs of living; joint Jewish-Arab protest held for first time since demonstrations began 16 days ago.

More than 100,000 people took to the streets Saturday to protest the spiraling costs of living in Israel. Marches and rallies took place in eleven cities across the country, with the largest ones taking place in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and Haifa. The protesters chanted “the people demand social justice” and “we want justice, not charity.”

The biggest protest was in Tel Aviv, where tens of thousands march from HaBima Square to the Tel Aviv Museum. “We are very happy to see the Israeli people go out into the streets,” said Yonatan Levy, one of the organizers. “We were amazed to see throughout the day that the issues that were raised on the different stages and tent cities are not so removed from each other after all.”

Tens of thousands march through central Tel Aviv in protest at the high cost of living in Israel, July 30, 2011.
Tens of thousands march through central Tel Aviv in protest at the high cost of living in Israel, July 30, 2011.Tal Cohen
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In Haifa, 8,000 people marched through the city. In Jerusalem, 10,000 protesters marched from Horse Park to the house of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. In Be’er Sheva, 3,000 protesters marched carrying banners saying “Be’er Sheva is shouting times seven.” (Sheva is the Hebrew word for the number seven)

In Ashdod, protesters marched from City Park. Around 150 people gathered at Ashdod’s tent city on their way to the march. Students from Beit Barl marched from the tent city at Kfar Sava to central Ra’anana junction.

For the first time since the beginning of the protests 16 days ago, a protest involving both Jews and Arabs took place in central Nazareth. In Kiryat Shmona 1,000 protesters marched in the city’s main road, towards the southern exit of the city.

Many prominent Israeli musicians performed at the rallies, including Hemi Rodner, Dan Toren, Yehuda Poliker, Barry Sakharov Yishai Levi, Aviv Geffen, and others.

Housing protest - AFP - July 30, 2011 Israelis hold up banners as they march in Tel Aviv on July 30, 2011.
Photo by: AFP
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