Social justice movement plans to take to the periphery

"The government has always neglected these areas and we want to show that we aren't neglecting them too," protest leader says.

By
August 11, 2011 21:07
2 minute read.
300,000 protestors call for social justice

300,000 protestors call for social justice. (photo credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters)

 
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Nearly a month into the social issues protests that have swept the country, movement organizers have decided to cancel the weekly mass rallies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and hold in their place a series of mass rallies in the periphery.

The message, organizers said, is that the movement isn’t only in the big cities in the center of the country, and the government must see it has become a nationwide struggle.

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As of Thursday night, the cities that are planning to hold rallies include Afula, Haifa, Beit She’an, Beersheba, Modi’in, Ramat Hasharon, Netanya, Eilat, Hod Hasharon, Dimona and Petah Tikva.

“Last week, only a day after 300,000 citizens took to the streets to protest, the government announced increases in electricity prices and the formation of a committee whose sole purpose is to dissolve the largest social movement ever held. So therefore, like we promised, we will not sit idly by,” Roee Neuman, spokesman for the protest movement, said on Thursday.

Yonatan Levi, part of the original core group of activists who launched the tent city on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard on the night of July 14, said Thursday that the decision to leave the main population centers is to send the message “that we are in the periphery as well.

We are going to get together as many people as possible and show solidarity with those people whose situation is much worse in terms of housing, health, employment, everything, than for those living in Gush Dan.”

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“Government has always neglected these areas and we want to show that we aren’t neglecting them too,” he said.

Ever since the movement brought an estimated 300,000 into the streets across the country last Saturday, much of the media narrative on the movement has focused largely on whether or not it has peaked, and if those behind the scenes can keep the momentum going any longer.

Levi laughed at the thought, saying “out here in the field, we don’t see any sort of drop-off. I see that people are still enlisting every day and there are still many different protests every single day across the whole country. I don’t think that anybody is in a hurry to give up on this,” he said.

“This has achieved a feeling of power, achievement, and solidarity, and people won’t give up on this easily. Especially considering that the government isn’t really answering our call.”

Levi said he had no idea a month ago that when he headed down to Rothschild with his tent that the gathering he was attending would become such a phenomenon.

“I thought we’d come for one night or two, and I thought that if 100-150 people showed up it would be a huge success. I had no reason to think it would be any different than any other protest people have held recently,” he said.

“But already on the first night, there were about 1,500 people who visited the tent city and by then I suddenly understood that this could spin out of control in ways that we would not be able to predict.”

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