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Photo by: Ben Hartman
In TA, J'lem, protestors rally against unity gov't
By BEN HARTMAN AND MELANIE LIDMAN
05/08/2012
Hundreds gather in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem hours after Kadima joins coalition; Livni: Young people deserve value-based politics.
 
The people of Israel deserve a better political system, former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said Tuesday at a rally in Tel Aviv against the deal struck Monday night to bring Kadima into the Likud-led government.

“I was invited here tonight by young people protesting against what they are seeing. They deserve a political system of values, not just of seats,” Livni said, adding that she came to embrace the protesters, before leaving.

In regards to Kadima head Shaul Mofaz, she said: “I said all I had to say when I resigned from the Knesset.”

Police arrested at least seven people, including a Haaretz reporter and a photographer from Israel HaYom, both of whom were released shortly thereafter without charges.

Tel Aviv city councilman Yoav Goldring was also arrested during the protest.

The protest was held under the banner “We are all the opposition,” and was organized after news broke of the national unity government deal late Monday night.

One of the organizers, Yonatan Levi, said the coalition deal was “one of worst slaps in the face ever to the Israeli public,” and decried what he said was the hypocrisy of Mofaz, who called Netanyahu a liar in the months before joining the coalition.

Levi, who was one of the main organizers of the summer’s mass “social justice” protests, said that before Monday he and others were planning to focus the upcoming summer’s protests on the elections previously set for September 4. However, in light of Monday night’s deal, they will focus on bringing people back to the streets with the message “that this government must go, they only survive on dirty tricks and they have to leave.”

The demonstration showed many traits from the summer’s protests, including calls for Netanyahu to resign, and a few chants comparing him to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Syrian President Bashar Assad, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile in downtown Jerusalem, around 200 people gathered carrying signs that read “If the government is against the people, the people are against the government!”

Like in Tel Aviv, protesters recycled many of the chants from last summer’s social protests, including calls for Netanyahu to resign.

“Young people say, ‘If this is politics, we don’t want anything do to with this,’” said Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former social and diaspora affairs minister and the chief rabbi of Norway. “So many red lines were crossed in the past 24 hours.”

“Even though I’m critical of the social protests from last summer, the situation in Israel is insufferable,” said Tuvia Singer, who is getting his doctorate in history.

Singer cited the government’s lack of transparency as one of the biggest issues. “What happened with Mofaz is a symptom of something deeper,” he added.

In Zion Square the protesters encountered some opposition from a number of youths, who yelled “Death to Arabs!” Other residents yelled at the protesters to go home.

“They’re piggybacking on the situation with the coalition and trying to bring down the Right,” said Yisrael Levy, a teacher.
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