Jerusalem Tent 311.
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
The unity of various interests of the protest movement sweeping the country began to show small cracks this week between the families demonstrating for public housing and the students at the core of Jerusalem’s tent city.
On Saturday night in Jerusalem, a representative of the Sacher Park tent city called for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s resignation, in violation of the protest’s attempt to stay nonpolitical.
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Organizers asked her to step down, and she refused to leave the stage.
After the woman, named Bracha, kept trying to grab the microphone, protest organizers surrounded her in a human shield and shuffled her off the stage while the woman continued to lash out at them physically and verbally.
“Her behavior was bordering on violence,” said protest organizer Bar Peled, of Ruah Hadasha.
The residents of the Sacher Park tent city have been quick to distance
themselves from the woman, who they claim offered her services as a
spokeswoman and instead piggybacked on their tent city, hijacking the
opportunity in order to air her own political opinions. But they
acknowledge a serious gap between the organizers of the protest
movement, largely students from middle class backgrounds, and their
needs, which are fundamentally different.
“We don’t want social justice or a revolution – we want apartments,
people here have nowhere to live,” said Asher Dan, a tent city
supporter, on Sunday in Sacher Park. “Our goal isn’t political, we’re
not trying to topple the government, what we want is a solution to the
apartments,” he said, adding that many of the 15 families in the Sacher
Park tents are Likud members who voted for Netanyahu.
“How can we think about [free early childhood] education when we have
nowhere to live?” asked Oshrit Ben- David, the leader of the tent city
in Sacher Park. “The students can’t represent us, because they can’t
really understand us,” she said.
The 15 families, most from the Katamonim neighborhood of Jerusalem,
joined together after Ben-David was evicted from her apartment after
failing to pay the rent.
Some of the families had been evicted months earlier, and were living in
cramped apartments with their parents, creating tense situations. There
are 20 children in the tent city, ranging from the ages of four months
One resident, Yafi Dan, sisterin- law of Asher Dan, returned to the tent
city on Sunday afternoon after attending her oldest son’s induction
ceremony into the army.
“You know where he’s going to sleep when he comes home exhausted from
basic training? In a tent, here in Sacher Park,” said Asher Dan. “Who’s
going to be here in October? [The students] will go back to school. They
have other options, here we have no choice,” he said.
The Sacher Park tent city claims that in the sweeping calls for social
justice, their very basic need of housing has been pushed down to the
bottom of the list. While they acknowledge that free daycare, a decent
wage for doctors, and rights for temporary workers will be beneficial,
it’s harder for them to look further than the lack of a roof over their
Bar Peleg, a spokeswoman for the tent city in “Gan Hasus” (Horse Park),
where the majority of students are living, said their tent city was in
touch with the Sacher Park tent city on a daily basis and that a new
representative from their protest would be part of the greater coalition
for the Jerusalem protests.
She said that in the protests’ evolution from a few tents on Rothschild
to an all-encompassing social movement, everyone has had to put their
specific demands on hold in favor of a greater good.
“This struggle hasn’t been about apartments for a while, and we know that,” she said.
“It has gotten much bigger, and even our requests about housing are not at the top.”