Moshe Silman, who set himself on fire last week in an act of protest against the
government’s economic policies, died on Saturday and was buried in Holon on
Zvi Devir, a leading activist in the social justice
movement in Haifa who said he knew Silman personally, rejected responsibility on
behalf of his fellow activists for the series of people across the country who
have set themselves alight over the past few days, placing the blame for the
situation on the government.
“Somebody that I knew put an end to his
life, but I don’t feel guilty – the government should,” he said. “We gave Silman
more than the government gave him. The government shut all the doors on
Devir said the safety net for the country’s needy was insufficient,
forcing people like Silman into acts of desperation.
He said he believed
Silman would not have set himself on fire at the rally in Tel Aviv last week –
marking the first anniversary of the start of the social justice movement – if
he had been granted three months of temporary housing.
Asked about the
man who set himself aflame in Yehud earlier on Sunday and was apparently
inspired by Silman, Devir reiterated claims that the government’s alleged
failures to help the poor were at fault.
“Of course I’m against [setting
oneself on fire], but the responsibility is on the government – not the
protesters,” he said.
The organizers of Silman’s funeral on Sunday asked
the media to respect the privacy of the ceremony, saying they would answer
Silman set himself ablaze in what he said was an
act of protest against the ills of Israeli society. The Haifa man, who was mired
in debt and was about to become homeless, left a suicide note directly blaming
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and their
economic policies for his desperation.
The next day a few thousand people
took to the streets of Tel Aviv in solidarity with Silman, with smaller
gatherings in Haifa and Jerusalem. Still, the movement thus far has not been
able to bring back the hundreds of thousands of people it appealed to last
Meanwhile, there have been at least three attempts by people to end
their lives in the same way. On Sunday a man in Yehud set himself on fire in
protest of an increase in army pensions to disabled veterans. He was rushed to
the hospital in critical condition, where he is being treated for his wounds.