North Tel Aviv neighborhoods join tent protests

‘What’s different here is that...we’re working people with jobs or families,’ says medical intern who initiated camp on Nordau Boulevard.

North Tel Aviv tent protest 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
North Tel Aviv tent protest 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
As the tent-city protests continue to spread across the country, more Tel-Avivians are doing their part to make sure they spread across the big city.
This weekend, new tent protests sprouted up on Nordau and Ben-Gurion boulevards in north Tel Aviv, both with a character noticeably different than the original hundreds-strong tent city on Rothschild Boulevard or the somewhat more politicized campsite in Levinsky Park near the central bus station.
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The Nordau campsite was started by north Tel Aviv resident Yishai Sekeli and friends. They brought two tents to the boulevard on Friday night, setting up an outpost that grew to 20 tents by the next afternoon.
Sekeli, 30, a medical intern at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, said that he and his friends brought the protest to Nordau because it was important for the protest to reach all corners of Tel Aviv.
“We came up with the idea that the protest should move to the north of the city and to bring it here so that more people could take part,” Sekeli said. Paying for housing was just as hard if not harder in the north of the city, even for those who had good jobs, he said.
Sekeli, a resident of the affluent Yehuda Hamaccabi neighborhood, acknowledged that like the protest on Ben-Gurion Boulevard, the character of the tent city on Nordau was a bit different than the Woodstock style atmosphere on Rothschild.
“What’s different here is that we aren’t students on summer break, we’re all in our 30s and we’re working people with jobs or families, and all of us have to wake up and go to work tomorrow. It gives it a different character here, maybe a bit more relaxed. But the problem is the same, it’s about a real desire of people who contribute a great deal to the country and feel that they don’t get anything back in return. And the housing problems are just as bad up here.”
Yael Havassy, 30, a social worker and law student, said that she and her friends set up the tent city on Ben-Gurion on Thursday night, out of the belief that people should be able to find a protest in their neighborhood dealing with the issues that affect their lives.
“Everybody needs to be able to step outside their house and protest within their neighborhood; they shouldn’t have to look for a specific framework or designated protest area in the city,” she said.
After the repeated forced evacuations of the Levinsky Park campsite last week, she became convinced that “the answer is to set up as many [campsites] as possible.”
Like those on Nordau, the residents of the 10 or so tents on Ben-Gurion lead lives that make staying on the street indefinitely a remote prospect, Havassy said.
“We have no idea how long we’ll stay here, or if we’ll manage to stay. All of us are either students or we have work tomorrow. Still, the fact that we brought the protest to another area of the city and met and spoke to tons of people means that it has been a success.”