Nearly six months after they first set up a faux military base at Tel Aviv’s
Arlozorov train station in a call for universal service for all Israelis, the
“Camp Sucker” movement is gearing up for a mass protest on Saturday night to
demand equality in the shouldering of the national burden.
which will be held at 8:30 p.m. at the Tel Aviv Museum plaza, is being headlined
“Order 8 – We will stop being suckers!!” in a reference to the “Tzav 8” letters
that arrive at homes to inform of upcoming reserve service.
said on their Facebook page that “we are citizens who live here, work, pay
taxes, serve in the army and national service, contribute to the state, feel
like we are a part of the state... we are calling for mandatory service for
everyone from age 18, without discrimination or dirty tricks. Service for
At least a dozen different organizations are taking part in the
protest, including the National Union of Israeli Students and several groups
devoted to religious freedom and helping reservists and discharged soldiers.
They will also be joined by the right-of-center extra-parliamentary group “Im
Boaz Nol, the 34-year-old Tel Avivian who has been at the
forefront of the movement, said Saturday’s protest will send the message that
“all of us must serve, that [Vice Premier Shaul] Mofaz and [Prime Minister
Binyamin] Netanyahu must do what they have promised and what all the people [of
Israel] have demanded.”
Nol said that Netanyahu’s decision on Monday to
dissolve the Keshev Committee, which was tasked with finding ways to draft the
ultra-Orthodox and Israeli Arabs into the army or national service, proves that
“although he vowed that he and Mofaz would bring change, he has chosen to betray
the majority of the Israeli public who pays taxes and serves in the army for the
sake of the haredim.”
Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid
leader Yair Lapid are expected to attend the rally, but no politicians will be
allowed to address the crowd.
MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) on Thursday said he
would take part in the protest Saturday night, and called on Netanyahu to stand
behind his words and work to ensure universal service.
Hasson also called
on all of Kadima’s 28 MKs to come and show their support at the
Maryland native and haredi Rabbi Dov Lipman, who made aliya with
his family in 2004, will be among the speakers at Saturday night’s rally, which
he said will be an opportunity to voice his feeling that army or national
service is in keeping with Jewish tradition and not an affront to “Torah
“My message is going to be that the demand that everyone
contribute and serve the country is what Torah and Jewish tradition demands and
any attempt to say that Torah is against that is a corruption of the Torah,” he
Lipman, who was involved in leading protests last year supporting a
national-religious girls’ school in Beit Shemesh that was opposed by local
haredi residents of the city, said he has received criticism from people saying
he is “going against the Torah sages” and others who say the protests in favor
of universal service are anti-religious.
Saturday night’s protest will be
the first major protest on the issue in Tel Aviv in recent memory, a fact whose
significance is not lost on Lipman.
“I think it’s hitting at exactly the
right moment. All the political leaders are doing their soul searching and the I
think that if people do come out and make a statement that there is a huge
percentage of the country that’s demanding action over here, I think it has the
potential to have a major impact.”
Also on Saturday night, social justice
protesters plan to hold a march at 7 p.m.
from the Interior Ministry on
Kaplan Boulevard to the Habimah Theater on Rothschild Boulevard. Organizers said
the protest will be nonpartisan and called on participants to arrive wearing
white T-shirts, on which they can spray paint their own personal slogans.