(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem /The Jerusalem Post)
Protest marches will be held in Tel Aviv and elsewhere in Israel on Saturday
night, to mark the two-year anniversary of the start of the social justice
protests, activists announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
Leef, the young Tel Avivian who launched the movement when she started a
Facebook event calling on Israelis to pitch tents at the city’s Habimah Square
on July 14, 2011, to demonstrate against soaring housing prices, said the
marches will be held to show that the movement is ongoing.
“We went to
the street [in the summer of 2011] to bring change. Ten percent of the Israeli
public hit the streets and the government has ignored it. There were elections,
new faces, new promises, and we saw the protests get occupied by politicians,”
Leef said, at a press conference at Tel Aviv’s Meir Park on
Addressing Finance Minister Yair Lapid, she said “I have news
for you Mr. Finance Minister: We know much more today than we used to. We
don’t have another two years to wait for change. You are a liar and if the
government passes this budget, it must fall!” The protest will begin with a
march heading from Hatikva Park in south Tel Aviv to Kaplan Street across from
the Defense Ministry, with another march leaving for the same spot from Habimah
Square at 8:30 p.m.
The press conference on Tuesday was attended by a
group of around 20 people, but lacked a major media presence or many of the
prominent activists from other protest groups which have split off and held
demonstrations over the past two years.
Those present included Itzik
Alrov, the Bnei Brak native who launched the “cottage cheese protest” in June
2011, a nationwide consumer boycott that is largely credited with laying some of
the groundwork for the quality of life protests that began a month
Alrov called on Israelis to march on Saturday because “two years
have gone by, nothing has changed and the cynics have managed to steal the
protest from the people.”
He said that while the cost of living has
continued to increase, a major difference between today and Israel in the summer
of 2011 is that now Israelis won’t continue to vote for the politicians who
disappointed them in the past – and have realized that the cost of living is
something that can be changed.
When asked what role he thinks the marches
will have, he vowed that they “will be the opening shot of the protests of the
summer of 2013.”