General strike launched on Facebook doesn’t impress

Despite media hype it was business as usual - streets were clogged with traffic and cafes and restaurants were jammed with tourists and locals.

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August 2, 2011 03:49
3 minute read.
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The Council of Local Authorities held a one-day strike, but in Tel Aviv not too many citizens skipped work for what was to be a nationwide event launched on Facebook last week.

Though it received a good deal of hype in the media, and over 22,000 people RSVP’d the strike on Facebook, at least in the coastal city, it was business as usual on Monday. The streets were clogged with traffic and the cafes and restaurants were jammed with tourists and locals, and there were almost no storefronts left shuttered in the midday sun.

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In solidarity with the strike, the Council of Local Authorities ordered work disruptions in towns throughout Israel on Monday, by far the largest collective act of participation in the protest.

Council head Shlomo Buhbut said Monday that most local authorities were taking part in the strike, “out of the hope that we can forge a unified effort to prevent Israeli society from entering crisis.”

Those local authorities that participated closed their doors to residents either for all or some of the day.

Buhbut said the council cannot stand in opposition to what he referred to as “a broad-scale social protest” that is dealing with “the social collapse of the middle class, and we are in need of a wide-range of solutions on many social issues, not only the housing shortage.”

Several Tel Aviv eateries joined the call and shut their doors to allow their employees to take part in the strike. The restaurants included well-known spots such as Nanutchka, HaBasta, HaMeorav and Joz v’Luz.

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“We imagined a day in which wait-staff, bouncers, cashiers, bartenders, DJs and cooks wouldn’t go to work. On this day, the city would not look the same. The people who work for a living in this city are the ones who power it. A strike on our behalf will disrupt the daily rhythm of Israel,” the group’s Facebook page stated.

One of those restaurateurs taking part was Maoz Alonim of HaBasta, who said he closed his doors in order “to be part of this and do our part and raise awareness that we need wide-scale social change.”

Alonim said his 30 employees were the ones who first came up with the idea, and that they were all on board. He said all those who work at the restaurant face the same housing and quality-of-life issues affecting protesters across the country.

The mass nationwide strike that didn’t happen was launched on a Facebook page opened by Tzvika Besor and a number of other friends, including Yoni Shadmi, 30, of Tel Aviv.

Shadmi, who works in the Tel Aviv University History Department, said the idea to call for the strike was driven by their desire “to do something that can bring a change,” adding that people needed no convincing to sign up for the initiative.

Shadmi said the idea was to have people find a way to take the day off from work and spend it with their family.

The original plan was for the strikers to head to Jerusalem where they would march on the Knesset, a plan that was nixed when organizers could not receive a permit.

In the end they settled on holding a gathering at Hayarkon Park in north Tel Aviv, where participants took turns expressing their grievances on a megaphone.

The crowd of around 100 or so people looked like a miniature version of the "baby strollers" march from last week.

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