Israel Brief August 23, 2011: Tel Aviv Police Remove Housing Protesters From Squat

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Police Remove Protesters From Tel-Aviv Squat

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-23-11

The police removed the social protesters this morning from the abandoned building on Tel Aviv’s Dov Hoz Street that they took over yesterday. “We shall not be moved,” the squatters declared as they set up what they called a “community center” in the building.

200 protesters entered the building, which was once the boarding school and dormitories for young theater actors. The protestors hung a large signtel aviv housing crisis tent cities “Liberated Building” and chanted protest slogans. In a reminder of Tel Aviv’s People’s House, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, the protesters said that they would set up a People’s House for community housing in the squat.

Protest leader Hadar Shemesh told “IDF Radio” (Galei Zahal), “The police evicted us. There was no violence on our part. There was some shoving and scuffles, but nothing more. We also counted two arrests. The protest is not over, and it continues by every means. We are united and the eviction will not end this.”

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said that the squatters crossed the line and broke the law. “Until now, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality allowed and even assisted the protest in the city in accordance with the spirit of Tel Aviv democracy. I have frequently expressed my public support for this just protest and personally attended the large rally held in the city,” he said yesterday.

“Regrettably, a line was crossed by a minority of hotheads who chose to break the law and take over a public property which is unsafe. These people exploited the public’s credit for this acceptable and legitimate protest that is in line with Tel Aviv’s values of peace, freedom of expression, and obeying the law, and put it on the path of violence and criminality. The squat is a crime, and such actions not only do not help the protest and violates democratic values, but will boomerang and hurt the protest’s power, the broad support it has had until now, and its legitimacy.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com

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Israel Economic Protests: “Mother of all Protests” Brings 150,000 Israelis Together

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Demonstration on behalf of Israeli middle-class began with one Facebook posting

Tent City Protest

Israel Tent ProtestsA dramatic demonstration of power was held on July 30th, with over 150,000 people taking to the streets of Israel calling for a fortification of the middle class. This far-reaching and all encompassing demonstration, nicknamed the “Mother of all Protests,” reached from Kiryat Shmona in the north to Beersheba in the south, with its center in Tel Aviv, where it began two weeks ago as “The protest of the tents.”

It all began when a young woman in Tel-Aviv named Daphne Leaf issued a post on Facebook stating that she would not stand still for the rising housing prices in Tel-Aviv. In protest and despair of her situation, Daphne noted that she was moving in a tent Rothschild Ave until the situation was resolved.

In the two weeks since the protest began, Rothschild BoulevNard in Tel Aviv has been filled with hundreds of young people who have joined Daphne to protest the rent and real estate prices in Tel Aviv. At the same time, additional tents and young demonstrators filled public gardens and urban parks throughout the country.

The protest tents are a part of a continuum of demonstrations against the inefficiency of the government. Recent protests also include demonstrations by mothers complaining about the prices of kindergartens and the cost of raising children, protests that fuel is overpriced, doctors striking for higher wages and a boycott of the cottage cheese suppliers after the price of this product rose sharply.

The protesters are comprised of mostly educated, middle class men and women ranging in age from 21-40, most of who have served and/or are serving in the army and pay taxes. It is their feeling that they contribute the most to the state and yet, receive the least.

They are protesting the ineptness of the state’s economic and social policy.

While direct taxes, which are designed to put the tax burden on the shoulders of the wealthy are among the lowest in Western countries, the indirect taxes aimed primarily at the middle class, are the highest. The young look at the West and recognize that their buying power is much weaker than that of their Western peers and understand the simple truth: We make less and pay a lot more.

This protest is authentic. It’s not left or right, Jew or Arab, nor is it made up completely of spoiled Tel-Avivians. This protest is the last chance for us to keep a substantial part of the younger generation in the country, to strengthen the backbone of economic and state security.

In Israel, as in all democratic countries, the big decisions are reflected at the polls. The recent and ongoing social protests have generated a deep frustration which is expected to spread. The current tribulations and dissatisfaction in the country will have a great effect on the next election. The time has come for Netanyahu, Livni and Barak to be concerned.

The fact is that these protestors will be the same citizens voting at the polls. They have at long last come to understand that their votes are important and will affect the overall picture.

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.”

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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