Protesters, MKs march in TA over cost of living

Demonstration occurs hours before a government-planned price hike in gasoline prices; 10 Kadima MKs attend.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 31, 2012 22:49
2 minute read.
Social justice protest [file]

Social justice protest 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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Hours before a new increase in the price of gas and electricity, a few hundred Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv in a march held to protest the rising cost of living in Israel.

Organizers titled the protest “From Slavery to Freedom,” a reference to the upcoming Passover holiday, which was also invoked by a banner reading “The ten plagues of Bibi” and two protesters wearing pharaoh masks.

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The march set out from Rabin Square, where a small encampment was set up earlier in the day with banners reading “We will no longer be friers [suckers].” Protesters made their way to the Tel Aviv Museum, and blocked a junction on Shaul Hamelech Street before being cleared out by police.

Weeks ahead of the protest, organizers handed out flyers saying “We’re returning to the streets,” posturing Saturday’s protest as a relaunch of the summer’s social justice protests that swept the country and brought hundreds of Israelis into the streets for several mass protests.

Like the summer’s protests, demonstrators on Saturday shouted for revolution and “social justice” as well as calls for Netanyahu’s resignation.

The invitation to the protest read, “The cost of living, the disappearance of the middle class [and] the enlargement of social gaps are not dictated by the heavens; rather, these are the fruits of the obtuse policies of the government. There are better policies and more humane solutions; society demands a new, social set of priorities.”

Unlike past socioeconomic demonstrations, Knesset members participated Saturday night. At least 10 MKs from Kadima were in attendance, including: Yoel Hasson, Yohanan Plesner, Ronit Tirosh, Rachel Adatto, Nachman Shai, Nino Abesadze, Ze’ev Bielski, Avi Duan, Shlomo Molla and Yulia Shamolov Berkovich.

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Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni complained during her election campaign that politicians were discouraged from attending last summer’s protests and that she was prevented from taking a role in them.

“We won’t allow politicians to be banned again,” Hasson said. “One of the lessons of last summer’s protest was that avoiding politics was a mistake.

I told the organizers that even if a million people come out to the streets, it’s still 120 people who make the changes. We need to be embraced, especially the 55 of us in the opposition.”

Livni’s successor, Shaul Mofaz, intends to refocus the party on socioeconomic issues. He pushed MKs in his faction to attend the rally.

“We have a new commander who ordered us to come and work differently now,” said MK Ronit Tirosh.

“There were protesters who cynically told us to leave. I understand them, but we intend to support them no matter what.”

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