Tent city activists broach Russian speakers

Series of lectures planned on economic issues in tent cities across the country meant for the Russian-speaking community.

By
August 19, 2011 04:48
2 minute read.
Nordau tent city

Nordau tent city chilled_311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

The tent cities’ protest movement is launching efforts to reach out to the Russian-speaking community in Israel, following what it says is an inaccurate portrayal in the Israeli media of the community’s role in the movement.

On Thursday evening, activists on Rothschild Boulevard held a meeting for Russian speakers supporting the movement, where they announced that they are also planning a series of lectures on economic issues in tent cities across the country, meant for the Russian-speaking community.

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The initiative comes in part following a narrative widely discussed in the Israeli media that seems to note a paucity of Russian speakers taking part in the protests.

In a press release issued ahead of Thursday’s event, organizers said “the Russian street is alive; the Russian speakers across the country are taking part in the protests.”

The initiative also follows a rally held on August 3, in which around 150 Russian speakers gathered outside the Knesset in solidarity with the movement.

In the release, Esther Rappaport, one of the organizers of the initiative, said “the Russian public deals with many housing and socio-economic problems that demand a wide range of immediate solutions.

Most immigrants from the former USSR came to Israel without any monetary resources and were not given inheritances from their grandparents, much the opposite.”

30-year-old Mickey Gitzin, born in Israel to Ukrainian parents, said the outreach initiative was driven by two main factors.

“First, there is the public debate in the Israeli media that says that the Russian community is not part of the struggle, which we believe is not the case at all. Second, there is the Russian-language press [in Israel] which presents the movement as a far-left cause which is also not true.”

Gitzin said that the issue is complicated by the community’s historical and cultural background, saying, “in the Russian sector to talk about socialism is forbidden, almost like talking about racial segregation would be in the US.”

He also said the community has suffered from the “Lieberman effect,” which colors all of the Russian speakers as being against the demonstrations in keeping with the stance of the Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party that has been largely negative regarding the protests.

Still, he added, “there is nothing more relevant to the Russian public than what is happening with these protests right now. These are people who came to Israel with nothing and no one in the community inherited a house or apartment from their parents.

“These issues are of central importance to them.”

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