Self-immolater Silman laid to rest in Holon

Moshe Silman interred in private ceremony; social protest activists reject responsibility for string of self-immolations.

July 22, 2012 18:19
2 minute read.
Moshe Silman, who set hemself afire in Tel Aviv.

Self-immolator Tel Aviv fire protester Moshe Silman 390. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)

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 Sunday afternoon.

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.

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“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 him.”

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 questions afterwards.

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 year.

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.

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