|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem|
Masses enlisted for Tel Aviv Human Rights March
By BEN HARTMAN
Organizers say social justice movement will give march added relevance; focus on gov't "assault on democratic values."
Come rain or shine, organizers hope to bring masses of Israelis into the streets
of Tel Aviv on Friday for the third annual Human Rights March.
is being organized for the third year in a row by the Association for Civil
Rights in Israel (ACRI) in collaboration with dozens of other local human rights
organizations. Organizers say the recent social justice movement that swept the
country over the summer, bringing hundreds of thousands of Israelis into the
streets, will give the march added relevance.
Ten arrested in Tel Aviv social justice protest
“Despite the fact that the
public voted with its feet for social justice last summer, the government
continues to focus on legislation assaulting democratic values. This year at the
Human Rights March, we will remind the government that it has forgotten to
listen to us, the people. We will march for social justice, freedom of
expression and protest, for human rights for all of us, Israelis and
Palestinians,” ACRI director Hagai El-Ad said in a press release issued this
The march will begin with a 10 a.m. gathering at Habima square, the
nexus of the summer’s social justice movement, and will make its way to Rabin
Square for a midday protest.
Libby Lenkinski, ACRI’s director of
international relations, said Thursday that a lot had changed since last year’s
march – “mainly that hundreds of thousands of Israelis now know what it feels
like to get off the couch and march in support of something.
some of that energy will translate tomorrow both in numbers and
Lenkinski said she believed the march was coming at a time when
“Israel’s democratic principles are increasingly being called into question,”
citing what she referred to as “anti-democratic trends in legislation in the
Knesset [as well as] a public atmosphere that is hostile toward civil society
organizations and human rights organizations in general.”
anti-democratic legislation was broken down into four categories: legislation
like the Nakba Law and the loyalty oath, which target the country’s Arab
minority; laws like the boycott and foreign funding laws that target civil
society and NGOs; legislation to limit the power of the High Court of Justice;
and legislation to limit freedom of speech.
She said all of these were
coupled with a hostile public atmosphere, but expressed hope that “we can meet
this with people power in the other direction.”
Sunday will see a number
of additional protest actions, directed at what organizers say are the worsening
socioeconomic gaps in society.
Under the banner “Fed up with mortgages –
let’s strike back at the banks with a consumer boycott,” a protest set for
Sunday will begin with participants placing repossession notices on banks in
The notes will read, “We announce that this bank has been
repossessed due to its inability to keep up with mortgage payments.”
statement sent out on Thursday, organizers said the protest move was meant “to
fight back against mortgage prices, a struggle that is devoted to ensuring that
every citizen of Israel can buy themselves a house.”
Organizers said that
within two days of their setting up the group last Monday, over 2,000
participants had signed up on Facebook.
In the statement, the initiator
of the protest, 33-year-old Tel Aviv hi-tech worker Yoav Gottreich, said that
banks had made mortgages into “a means to milk money out of young couples. We
are launching this protest to bring down mortgage prices, so that young couples
can buy a house without becoming enslaved for the rest of their
The statement also said the protest group would take steps to
deter young people from taking mortgages in the near future, though it was not
stated how this would take place.
Also Sunday, a group of protesters will
be demonstrating outside the Israel Business Conference in Tel Aviv, in a call
for social and economic reform.
Meretz Party spokesman Hamotal Cohen said
the 12th annual protest was sending a message “for economic and social reform,
and this year it has been boosted by the social protests over the past
The demonstrators’ message, she said, “is that the social
justice protest can’t be silenced.... We are the 99 percent and you [the
government] are the 1% in the leadership who make the decisions which are
absolutely against the desires of the people.”