(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
More than a thousand Israelis gathered around more than 200 roundtables in Tel
Aviv on Saturday, as part of a social experiment that was the first of its kind
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LeefThe tents may be down, but the social issues
The event, entitled “1,000 tables,” was held at the plaza of
the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and in other locations in dozens of other cities
across Israel. It took place on the first Saturday night since the social
protest movement started on July 14th that a series of protest marches was not
The group’s Facebook page refers to the event’s roundtable
discussions as “a giant dialogue of the masses, the first of its kind, which
will foster thought, discussion and allow us to examine together what we are
demanding and how we bring about the optimal change.”
The page said the
event “will clarify the goals of the [social issues] struggle, form an extensive
database of the real needs of the public and prepare practical means to attain
The plaza of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Saturday night
resembled an enormous speed dating gathering or open air bingo hall.
Participants were given randomly selected table numbers by ushers and at each
table perfect strangers met and discussed whatever social issues they wished.
Designated “social issues experts” were on hand to facilitate discussion, and at
each table, at least one participant took record of the minutes on a laptop,
compiling the suggestions for uploading to the Internet.
The event was
quiet and well-behaved until a surprise visit was made by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron
Huldai, who was quickly hounded by a couple dozen protesters. As they shouted
“Dictator!” and “Huldai go home!”, he stopped to chat at a few of the tables,
encircled by a phalanx of special YASSAM riot police.
Huldai, who described the protesters as a fringe group of extremists on the
outer margins of the movement, was hustled into a waiting car and driven
In keeping with the social media friendly movement, all of the
suggestions offered by the participants will be compiled online and become part
of a database of demands that can be accessed by the public. They will also
compile a document with a synopsis of the demands, which organizers said will
then be posted on the social issues website at http://j14.org.il.
the organizers of the event, Danny Gal, said the purpose is “to allow any
citizen who wants to have his voice heard and be part of the designing of the
face of Israel to come and take part.”
“We are in a period of change and
the public can no longer be ignored. Decision-makers today can’t continue to
ignore what people are demanding and no leader can just assume he knows what the