Mass social justice protest to hit streets after hiatus

For first time in nearly two months, social justice movement calls for protests across country; Leef says she'll "fight with all her might."

October 25, 2011 17:33
3 minute read.
Dafni Leef [file]

Dafni Leef 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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The social justice movement that swept the country over the summer will hit the streets again this Saturday for the first time in nearly two months, with protest leader Daphni Leef vowing Tuesday that she will “fight with all of her might” for a better future.

“If there’s one thing that swinish capitalism has taught me is that if you want something, you fight for it with all of your might. And I want a future, that’s what I want... and I want every other person in this country to have a future,” Leef said, directing her comments to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

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Opinion: Whither the social protest?
Social protest leaders slam approval of Trajtenberg report

At the press conference at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Leef began by saying “I hate press conferences, they aren’t part of my nature as a human being, but this is how they hear us in the Knesset.”

Throughout her remarks, Leef seemed borderline agitated, and criticized not only Netanyahu, but also the media, for what she described as a misrepresentation of the social justice movement that began after Leef pitched a tent on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard on July 14 to protest soaring housing prices.

“For the past four months we’ve been fighting a war of attrition. And it works sometimes; look at me I’m a tired woman. Bibi, [Netanyahu] you are looking at a tired woman, but more than anything else, I am a determined woman.”

Saturday’s protests will be held in cities across the country, and the central march will set out from Rothschild Boulevard and make its way to Rabin Square at 9 p.m. Saturday’s protests will be the first major demonstration held by the movement since the “March of the Million” on September 3, which saw an estimated 400,000 people take to the streets in protests across Israel.

The subsequent release of the findings of the Trajtenberg Committee on Socioeconomic Issues was met with disapproval by the social justice movement, who said it did not go far enough in affecting change. According to Leef, since the protests hit their peak on September 3, the movement has received little if any response from the government.

“For two months there hasn’t been a protest. For two months we have tried to speak to politicians who sit in the Knesset... two months after the largest public protest ever held in Israel, and I feel that they are always tying to besmirch or dismiss this protest and I don’t understand why I’m in a war for survival against elected officials.”

Leef also criticized Netanyahu for what she described as his self-centered approach to the daily issues in Israel.

“You brought [captured IDF soldier] Gilad Schalit back home and the first word you said was ‘I’ as though you are the basis of everything, but you aren’t, the seven million people of Israel are.”

Leef was also joined at the press conference by Holocaust survivor Ruth Krieger, who spoke of her economic hardships.

“My entire family, all of them are gone. My father was killed and here I don’t receive anything.” Krieger added “I know survivors who live without water or electricity and no one helps them. I am asking for help, a little help.”

Also at the press conference was 15-year-old May Turgeman, who spoke of overcrowded classrooms and what he said is the need for greater investment in education.

“I am tired of the fact that [teachers] ignore us, that we go to huge classrooms, and I get lost among 40 other students, and when I ask for help, no one is there to help me.

“On October 29, we young people need to take to the streets and demand a new national budget, and the social justice we deserve.”

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