Leef cuts interview when asked why she didn't serve in army

Tent city protest leader grilled by Channel 10 anchorman on service, privileged background.

August 30, 2011 03:58
2 minute read.
Tent City organizer Dafni Leef

Tent City organizer Dafni Leef 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)


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Tent city protest initiator Daphni Leef on Sunday night had what is certainly her most difficult interview with the Israeli media, when a Channel 10 anchorman grilled her on why she didn’t serve in the army or perform national service and whether or not the fact that she comes from a fortunate upbringing means she is out of touch with the social issues facing the country.

Leef cut the interview short and walked off, saying, “I have to go now.”

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She said she didn’t serve in the army because she has epilepsy, “and though I didn’t perform national service I did volunteer for a year and half in a safe house for teens,” Leef told Economic Night host Sharon Gal, adding, “my personal story is only part of what is happening across the country. The protest is far larger than any of its individual parts.”

Gal told Leef that whether or not she served in the army is important because he said people have raised the issue on the show’s Facebook page, questioning how someone who hasn’t done her part to shoulder the national burden can understand the basic legal obligations required by normal everyday Israelis.

Gal also asked Leef about what he said is resentment in the tent cities directed toward her and other protest leaders, based on the fact that they are not sleeping at the tent cities on a constant basis any more. Leef said she didn’t think it was relevant where she or other founders sleep at night, adding “the distress [in Israel] is so wide that the question of where I slept last night is not the point.”

She did admit however that she hasn’t slept at the Rothschild tent city in the past week.

Gal also asked Leef how she could understand the cost of living issues faced by Israelis if she grew up in a wealthy family and “lived right around the corner from the prime minister’s house in Jerusalem and moved to live with her mother in Kfar Shemaryahu”, the latter in reference to the Leef family home located in one of Israel’s wealthier areas.

Leef’s upbringing has been largely undiscussed by the media, though some have said that it could contradict her personal story that she launched the tent city protest after she could not afford to pay her apartment rent after her landlord raised it. Whether or not Leef’s personal background is of enough importance to the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have taken part in the protests since July 14 remains to be seen.

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