J14 protest leader: Housing recommendations a bluff

"If it looks like a bluff, walks like a bluff, and smells like a bluff, chances are it is a bluff,” says National Union of Students chair.

March 19, 2012 00:54
1 minute read.
Young activists at tent city protests

Tent city protests. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The cabinet’s approval of the Trajtenberg Committee’s housing proposals is nothing more than a bluff for the Israeli public, one of the leaders of last summer’s “J14” social justice protests said on Sunday.

Itzik Shmuli, chairman of the National Union of Israeli Students, said the committee’s recommendations were never serious enough to begin with, and “in a larger sense, they [the government] weakened all of the serious recommendations that were included in the report. All of the government’s dealings with the demands of the protests were superficial and not serious. If it looks like a bluff, walks like a bluff, and smells like a bluff, chances are it is a bluff.”

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Shmuli said the cabinet vote was further evidence of the government’s neglect of the middle class, and its inability to take seriously the protest movement that took to the nation’s streets last summer.

When asked if the students planned to take to the streets again, he said, “They already know how to do this, and the way it looks right now, I think it is absolutely a possibility.”

Stav Shafir, another one of the main activists behind the protest movement, had a more positive impression of the cabinet decision. “We see this as a great victory for the protests and it shows that results can be reached,” she said, adding that “we see it as just a beginning, though.”

Shafir said she believed the government still did not view affordable housing as a legitimate request, or at least not to the degree to where it would work to ensure that every Israeli could obtain housing.

She also said the government needed to look for “deep social solutions,” such as laws ensuring that rent not exceed 30 percent of a tenant’s income, and that more public housing needed to be built.

“We must use this as a beginning but continue to pressure the government,” she said.

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