(photo credit: Courtesy)
The housing protest, which has been on the public agenda for several weeks,
reminds those who forgot that Bibi is still Bibi. A short reminder: Go back to
2003, when he wanted to harm one of the most vulnerable sectors of Israeli
society – single moms. Then, as today, the symbol of the protest was a woman –
Vicky Knafo. But then Knafo, a hard-working woman from a small town in the
periphery, represented the lower class. Eight years later, a Tel Aviv single
working woman finds herself in the spot once occupied by Vicky Knafo. The
distance from Mitzpe Ramon to Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv has never been
For me, as a woman, it is heart-warming to see that the feminine
voice has raised the flag of social protest a second time.
One can say
that this is a woman-style revolt – one that encourages attention, listening and
open dialog. This is a strong protest conducted quietly. However, it is
important to remember that the leader of the tent protest is actually the
message, and the message is despair at the nonending burden the state levies on
the same sector of society that bears all the social, security and economic
In 2003, the veil was removed to uncover Bibi’s real nature.
Then, he chose to slash the meager benefits paid to Knafo and others like her.
At present, he is jeopardizing people who do not depend on state benefits, the
people of Israel’s middle class, the backbone of its society, who try to earn an
honest living by working long hours. Knafo and Daphne Leef are both working
women who got lost in the labyrinth of work, childcare and homemaking on one
hand and economic problems, taxes, childcare and education/health expenditures
on the other, not to mention housing. Thus, the lives of both are characterized
These women are the main victims of Bibi’s heavy-handed
policy, but he refuses to listen to them. Perhaps he disparages that voice, or
does not understand its importance. Leef and Knafo have been paying a physical,
social, mental and emotional price for taking part in the struggle to change the
face of Israeli society.
Now, in the overall medley of communication
spins and arguments against the Rothschild Boulevard protest, the “periphery
spin” has appeared, arguing, even demanding
, that these young people leave Tel
Aviv and move to the periphery.
This is a demagogic argument, and
contradicts the position of Bibi’s government about “natural growth” in the
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Do not Tel Aviv residents have a right to “settle” in their
home town? And what about the children of settlers, who wish to make their home
in the settlements where they were born? It is ironic that the common
denominator between Vicky Knafo – a single mom from Mitzpe Ramon – and Daphne
Leef – a young woman from Tel Aviv, is Binyamin Netanyahu and his heavy-handed
economic policy. Both women have experienced the harsh obtuseness of the
Treasury, and its unwillingness to provide for the citizens of the state – all
There is an apprehension that the tent protest will end like
Knafo’s – with nothing.
If the backbone of the middle class is broken,
the social and economic repercussions will be enormous – Leef, contrary to
Knafo, and like many of her generation, can easily leave the country. She and
others who have lost any hope of building a home in Israel will do it elsewhere!
Netanyahu, who wishes to be perceived as the advocate of National Zionism, has
actually been preventing the settling of the country. He who wishes to appear a
Zionist is in fact preventing the building of homes in Israel.
is possible that Knafo’s situation was actually better than Leef’s – Knafo
dreamt only of being able to cope financially with everyday life, while Leef is
dreaming of a roof over her head…
The writer is an advocate and the founder/executive director of New Family
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