TAU graduate student Barak Segal, who was one of the leaders of the July 2011
social justice movement along with Daphni Leef and Stav Shaffir, decided to
protest the high cost of housing by putting up a tent on the university’s campus
and reside in it starting Wednesday.
Segal decided to recreate the tent
protest, which took place on Rothschild Boulevard in the summer of 2011, after
his landlord raised the rent of his one bedroom Ramat Gan apartment by almost 10
“I don’t blame him. He is caught in a cycle. If I need water to
produce corn and the price of water rises, I’m going to have to raise the price
of my corn. It’s a cycle,” he said, walking around campus, putting up posters
that read “Taking over the academia! The campus is ours!” On the bottom of the
posters, an empty box with the title “What bothers you?” was left for people to
fill. As he stuck and stapled the signs around the university, he asked
passersby the same question and heard responses like “apathy,” “housing” and
“I could have gone and looked for another apartment
but I’m fed up and I won’t play that game anymore. At first I wanted to come
live here, and not tell anyone behind one of the buildings and stay here for six
months, as if I’m in some tzimer (inn) in the north. You can live here easily,
there is everything,” he explained, The other option was to ask his parents for
help, but Segal said he feels he is “too old for that,” so after talking to
friends, he decided he could “shake the students awake a little,” and turn his
living situation into a public statement, calling for change and addressing the
cost of housing issue.
According to a recent survey, half of Israeli
students have received financial aid from their parents in the past academic
year. The average amount of this financial aid in 2011-2012 reached NIS 14,355,
a 15 percent increase from the year before.
On the facebook event page he
opened, Segal made clear that positioning himself on campus isn’t an attack on
Tel Aviv University.
“I just think students can define what the future is
going to look like. I think that we are taught a lot of things here that help us
produce ideas. Except in the real world, those things don’t happen. I think the
university, as a learning place, can be the host for our uprising and support
Orna Cohen, TAU’s spokeswoman, wrote a statement to The
Jerusalem Post saying: “Tel Aviv University allows students and faculty to
protest on campus after submitting an application to the appropriate parties at
the university. Barak Segal also has submitted an application to
The university will review the request and decide whether to
grant it to him.”
Segal is set to put up his tent on the grass of the TAU
campus on Wednesday afternoon.
“The hope is that 300,000 students will
uprise and create a situation where things can finally change. But this kind of
thing takes time,” Segal said.
He is expected to be joined by “at least
30” others who will do the same. Faculty, students and other university staff
will also come for support. The event will be made festive with performers and
other activities through the weekend.