Wow. Just wow. I mean, there are protests and then there are pro-tests, testing the professionalism of the political demonstration industry. Saturday Sunday and Monday was that. 1,000 Israelis, who have been living it up in a tent city in Zion’s IDF Square, marched through the holy city of Jerusalem and blocked the entrance to Knesset. En route to Knesset, the protesters protesting formidably high and raising housing prices attempted to block a street nearby the residence of one Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Slogans and banners read “The People Demand Social Justice” and “Welfare State Now.”
But don’t lay all the blame on Bibi who rebuked Likud ministers for not doing enough to solve the housing crisis. The Prime Minister said, “Even before I became prime minister,” Netanyahu said, “I asked the 100-day team [a committee focused on economic transition] headed by [Finance Minister] Steinitz to create a plan for the housing problem.â€
As a reaction to disgruntled citizens, Bibi cancelled his scheduled visit to Warsaw, where he was off to in order to get the Polish Prime Minister to vote no on a new UN resolution to recognize a Palestinian state.
Meanwhile on Monday, dozens of activists blocked major roads in Haifa, Jerusalem and Beâ€™er Sheva as part of the housing crisis protests. In central Haifa, scuffles broke out between activists and drivers who were forced to stop. Eight activists were arrested in Paris Square in Jerusalem after refusing to clear the road.
Earlier Monday, dozens of activists blocked a road at the entrance to the Knesset. Five were arrested and one police officer was lightly injured.
Meanwhile, a new Facebook protest page went up Monday calling for a general strike on August 1. So far more than 3,700 people said they will participate. The page was created by social activist Zvika Basor, a 36-year-old Givatayim resident and father of a one-year-old baby.
Another Facebook protest page created Monday called for a “tent city strollers march.” The organizers called on fathers, mothers and single parents to march in central Tel Aviv on Thursday with their children and strollers.
Bibi’s response has been responsive though. Quoth Bibi at a Hebrew University graduation ceremony:
“We will lower prices for social solidarityâ€¦Our economic situation is in many ways better than in Europe. People make a living but at the end of the month nothing is left. Why don’t they have anything left? Because things cost more here…Where there is no competition prices go upâ€¦One of our aims is not only to improve the economy but also to lower pricesâ€¦We will have to open up a government cartel,” he warned. “It’s important in order to give the people social solidarity, so they know they can make a living, that they have something to aspire to.”
Bradley burst-out-laughing Burston has a nice article on the tent city protests.