Saturday evening’s protests in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Ashdod and
Nazareth against the high cost of living will be even larger than last week’s,
activists said on Thursday.
Stav Shaffir, 26, one of the first activists
to take part in the Rothschild Boulevard housing protests that started in Tel
Aviv two weeks ago, said Saturday’s protest “are going to be much bigger. We’re
going to have protests in six different cities at the same time... This protest
is really gathering all the different protesters: the teachers, the mothers, the
doctors, all different types of people.”
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She added, “The last one was
just about housing, but this one will be much bigger because now it’s about
Like last week’s protest, which brought about 20,000 people
into the streets of central Tel Aviv, Shaffir said Saturday’s events will
include “no politicians – never.”
The housing protest movement, which was
launched two weeks ago on a Facebook page set up by 26-year-old Daphni Leef, has
been criticized for lacking a unified message or a clear set of demands.
According to Shaffir, that should change on Saturday.
“At the protest we
will state our demands, and it won’t just be about housing,” Shaffir
When asked if they would present an itemized list of demands,
she said, “we will present the type of society we want in Israel. The society we
dream about in Israel and how we can make it happen.”
Shaffir, who has
achieved some fame due to an YouTube video, where she can be seen verbally
sparring with MK Miri Regev (Likud) on a Channel 1 news program, said that
protesters have formulated a large number of ideas, but that more than anything
else, their vision is for a more just society.
She said that she doesn’t
believe that the protests are looking to bring down Prime Minister Binyamin
“We don’t care – it’s not only Netanyahu’s fault that our
country is the way that it is,” Shaffir said. “There’s no government in
20 years that I can say that I could really trust. There’s a huge
trust between the government and its people, because the people got used
to thinking only about security threats, and they can’t even
think about the day-to-day things because they aren’t as important as
In addition to Saturday’s protests, many people have
said they won’t go to work on Monday.
On Facebook, more than 17,000
people had already RSVP’d participation in the strike by Thursday. In keeping
with what is a constantly evolving movement – without a centralized leadership –
it’s safe to assume that additional protest moves will be carried out on a
rolling basis throughout next week.
Yonatan Levi, another activist who
has been a staple of the protests since the first 12 tents were set up on
Rothschild two weeks ago, said that next week will include a series of protest
In particular, Levi mentioned a protest that will be planned to
coincide with the Knesset vote on the prime minister’s bill to speed up housing
construction by creating national housing councils, during which he said
activists planned to hold a mass protest outside the Knesset, and place the
building “under siege.”
Levi said that the participation of the Histadrut
Labor Federation will provide significant reinforcement to the movement. “We
always wondered where [Histadrut leader] Ofer Eini was the whole time, and we
never planned having them be involved, but the power that he has and that he
represents give us a great deal more power.”
Levi did admit, though, that
at the end of the day, whatever protest moves are carried out across the country
won’t be decided on by the protesters on Rothschild Boulevard.
the ones who decide really. Its already been way out of our hands for a long
time,” he said.
Like Sheffer, Levi said the protest movement isn’t
focused on removing the prime minister from power.
“What’s the point if
Netanyahu leaves and ‘Netanyahu II’ comes along, with the same detachment from
the people. There isn’t that much difference between him and other politicians.
It’s about changing the entire approach to what the country can do for its
people,” Levi said.