It’s not only born-and-bred Israelis who are taking up the cause on
Orly Shafir, 28, says she is also feeling the cost-of-living
pinch and frustration that spurred the unprecedented tent city protests ongoing
in the streets of Tel Aviv and across Israel.
Joining thousands of other
protesters on Rothschild Boulevard in central Tel Aviv, Shafir and her friend
Kate Rosenberg, 26, set up a tent dubbed “Ohalim Chadashim L’Olim Chadashim,”
meaning “new tents for new olim,” near 119 Rothschild on July 31.
who works two jobs and studies non-profit management at Hebrew University with
Rosenberg, wants new immigrants in Israel to know that they don’t have to accept
a high cost of living just because they chose to make aliya.
entering the workforce in their 20s, Shafir had an assumption that it would be
easier to climb up the pay scale when she moved to Israel from Arizona five
Despite working for the past four years, and volunteering for
one, that modest dream has not been realized, she says.
Western countries) are the same as Israel – salaries are not,” she said in a
phone interview with The Jerusalem Post
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Calling herself a “middle class”
resident of Israel, Shafir says she often asks Israeli friends and family how
they are able to make a proper living.
“Here, I don’t know how people do
it,” she says, adding, “it’s an anomaly to me.” Shafir said like many olim, she
had honorable intentions when she moved here.
“I believe that we should
do our part to make Israel and our world a better place,” she says, but adds
that she and her peers are making a “large sacrifice to be able to live
Shafir says she tries to tell the olim that come by on Rothschild
that they too can have a voice, rather than feel that this is their lot when
they move to Israel.
For those who have a limited grasp of the Hebrew
language, she says, it can be even harder to make a sustainable
For Rosenberg, the protests represent the reason she made aliya
from her hometown of Melbourne, Australia in the first place – to “create a
better society” in Israel.
Despite working as a coordinator at the Museum
of the Jewish People, running Tov- Lada’at, a non-profit organization devoted to
helping African refugees in Israel succeed at university, not to mention
planning her upcoming wedding, Rosenberg set up the tent with Shafir and has
attended all three big Saturday demonstrations, marching through the streets of
After visiting the tents on Rothschild, Rosenberg said she felt
compelled to be a part of the movement, rather than just a spectator.
guilt got the better of me,” she says with a chuckle.
On a more serious
note, Rosenberg said issues beyond housing being addressed by the protesters,
such as education and transportation reform, are needs she feels deeply
In terms of earning a living, even with a dual income between her
and her fiance, Rosenberg says she is still not able to save
And she says she didn’t come to Israel hoping to live in
the lap of luxury. Far from it, she says, as she would be able to earn much more
had she stayed in Australia.
“Savings are a right, I think, and it’s not a
possibility at all in Israel.” The protest isn’t about “little rich kids in Tel
Aviv” like some would suggest, Shafir says. At least not to her and her
“I don’t think this is a fight about luxury, I think this is a
fight about survival and trying to make it on a daily basis.”
of what the next few months hold in terms of the protest’s momentum and
government action, Rosenberg said what has already taken place is what’s most
She takes pride in the fact that Israelis, born here or not,
are working together for the common good and acknowledging that Israel is “a
wonderful place, but things have to change.”
Says Rosenberg: “I’ll leave
my tent there until someone tells me to take it down.”
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