Israelis gather at Times Square to support rent protests

Israeli students studying at US universities, pitch several tents in New York and shout slogans in Hebrew in support of the welfare state.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
August 7, 2011 19:28
2 minute read.
Israelis protest in NY's Times Square

NY Tent Protest 311. (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

NEW YORK – About 30 Israelis wearing red shirts and raising banners in Hebrew gathered at Times Square on Saturday night in solidarity of protests over the cost of housing in Israel.

The participants, who were mostly Israeli students in the U.S. for a summer course but also included some expats and Jewish-Americans, pitched several tents and shouted slogans in Hebrew in support of the welfare state.

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“A nation of workers, not slaves,” they chanted. “We want justice, not charity”

“Our friends are sleeping in tents throughout the country in an effort to affect serious change and this is our way of supporting them from afar and encouraging them to continue their important endeavor until we return to Israel to take part in the struggle,” the organizers said in a press release.

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Nir Yanovsky Dagan, an Israeli student attending a two week seminar at Columbia University, was one of the event’s key organizers.

“I was in Israel at the tents and when I came here for the seminar I felt it was shame to miss out on such a significant protest,” he said. “It’s important for us to say that this protest was not against Israel or organized by yordim (a derogatory term of Israeli expats) but by people who live there and are going back who want to show support for the country.”

Times Square is not a place unfamiliar to spectacle. Each year countless protests, big and small, compete with performance artists and the Naked Cowboy for the attention of passersby. Still, some tourists who happened to walk on Saturday showed a particular interest in the protest.

“Some Israelis walked up to us,” recalled Yanovsky, “ saying ’ We can’t believe the protest movement has reached New York,’ and then they joined us.”

Meanwhile, a similar solidarity protest organized by Israeli expats was set to take place in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.

Over 100 people confirmed on Facebook that they would attend a gathering at Woodley Park showing support for the demonstrations in Israel.

"It is important for the more than 200,000 Israelis living in Southern California and their American Jewish friends who support the people of Israel to show solidarity with the suffering Israeli public. We need to stand as one people "Am Echad"and let our voices be heard," the organizers wrote on the event's Webpage. "This is a unique opportunity to show the Israeli public that "we care and stand with them" We invite you to come with your family and friends and invite you to express yourself freely by bringing tents, signs, guitars etc."

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