Tel Aviv on Saturday joined hundreds of cities across the globe holding “October
15” demonstrations, focused on a message of greater economic equality and
opportunity, and increased citizen participation in public life.
Israeli version was a small and rather laid-back event, light years from the
tear gas and fire of Rome.
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The global demonstrations are largely inspired
by the Occupy Wall Street protest that began on September 17, and its message
that “we are the 99 percent” (that is not rich) that has steadily gained greater
media attention in recent weeks.
The gathering at the Tel Aviv Museum
hearkened back to an earlier protest closer to home, and seemed an extension of
the open discussions, art exhibits and jam sessions that gave life to the
Rothschild tent city, albeit set up in an open, breezy plaza during the Succot
Though it got off to a slow start, by Saturday evening
several hundred people were milling around the plaza, checking out the
information booths and art exhibits, including a collection of photos taken of
in the tent cities of Tel Aviv and Holon since July 14, when the “J14 movement”
for lower housing prices started.
The plaza also featured a “Hyde Park”
speakers area where anyone could voice his opinions about global economics,
capitalism or, presumably, the weather, as well as projector screens that were
airing live footage from October 15 demonstrations around the
Across the plaza, dozens of carpets were laid out, and discussions
were held on globalization, the role of banks in Israel’s social problems, the
power of consumer boycotts, and “love, relationships and capitalism,” to name a
Tel Aviv lawyer Dor Nachman, 29, helped spread the word about the
event and was making the rounds on Saturday as a spokesman for the Israeli
branch of the global protest day.
When asked if the fact that the event,
like the J14 movement, did not seem to speak with a unified voice, Nachman said,
“There isn’t one voice because there are many voices. The one-voice idea
is the problem with our politics; we want people to come and have voices heard
that weren’t heard before.
“All of these events here in Israel and around
the world are driven by the same concept: There are no leaders, and we are all
As for whether or activities such as Saturday night’s rally
can count on large support or public interest in Israel when major news events
like the imminent release of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, Nachman said, “I don’t
think people have stopped paying attention, [to social justice protests], but
the problem in Israel is that people are always paying attention to one thing at
a time. But there are many issues on the public agenda. Gilad Schalit is a
subject very close to all of our hearts, I’m very happy he’s being released. But
the protest is not over, the government knows the protest is not over. We
don’t need to always just focus on one thing. We need to focus on the social
issues just like the security issues.”
On the www.15october.net
affiliated with the global October 15 movement, a statement said that Saturday’s
events were held because “from America to Asia, from Africa to Europe, people
are rising up to claim their rights and demand a true democracy. Now it is time
for all of us to join in a global nonviolent protest. United in one voice, we
will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us,
the people, to decide our future. We are not goods in the hands of
politicians and bankers who do not represent us.”
The Tel Aviv event
culminated in a gathering held outside the “Peoples’ House” squat house/co-op at
69 Rothschild Boulevard. “Occupy Rothschild” was held in part to protest what
organizers said was the municipality’s refusal to allow a street party at the
site on Saturday, according to an announcement on the J14.org.il website,
affiliated with the J14 social justice movement.
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