Moshe Silman, the man who was critically wounded when he set himself on fire
last week at a social justice protest in Tel Aviv, succumbed to his
wounds Friday. He was being treated at Sheba Medical Center in Tel
Hashomer for burns over the majority of his body.
friends and relatives, Silman's unlucky spiral was sparked by one small
debt to the National Insurance Institute (NII). As that debt grew, he
lost his business, his property, his home, and eventually suffered a
debilitating stroke that left him 100 percent disabled. Despite
receiving a meager disability check from the NII, he was barely able to purchase essential medicines let alone pay rent on an apartment. Solidarity protests in his memory are to be held throughout the country Saturday night and, on Friday night, at the spot where he set himself alight last week, hundreds of protestors lit candles and held a vigil in his name. He will be buried Sunday afternoon in Holon.
last week's rally, just minutes before he set himself on fire, the
57-year-old Haifa resident distributed a letter explaining why he had no
choice but to set himself alight: “The State of Israel has stolen from
me and robbed me, left me with nothing and the Tel Aviv District Court
blocked me from getting justice.”
He went on to blame the state
for his downfall and specifically Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. Silman also highlighted how he was
consistently turned down for public housing, as he did not fit the
“He had no choices left but he was just not ready to
live on the streets,” Rabbi Idit Lev, Manager of Rabbis for Human
Rights’ Social Justice Project, who has been in close contact with
Silman for more than a year attempting to help him navigate impossible
bureaucracy and get the state to help him, told The Jerusalem Post
in an interview last week.
said that the irony was that if Silman had gone to live on the streets,
even for just two or three weeks he might have qualified for public
housing but he was too proud.
Friends of Silman, who joined the
social justice protest movement last summer when he moved to Haifa,
described him as a gentle man who was, however, very bitter that the
state had let him down in this way. Several told The Post
in interviews that they had feared he might “do something drastic.”
brother-in-law Amram Elul said: “We knew he was fragile and could do
something extreme. We tried to talk to him around and we told him it was
just an issue of bureaucracy, that it would take time to straighten
things out but obviously nothing was helping and he just got fed up with
Friends and relatives issued statements Friday
expressing their sorrow and regret over Silman’s death.
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