‘Social justice’ to hit the streets Saturday

We will demand Knesset parliamentarians and government cancel 2012 budget, launch new social budget through cooperation with public.

Protest leaders Dafni Leef, Stav Shafir 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Protest leaders Dafni Leef, Stav Shafir 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
After a nearly two-month hiatus, the social justice movement will hold protests on Saturday evening in Tel Aviv and other cities.
The message will be that the government has ignored the movement and that the time has come to relaunch the mass protests that were a Saturday night tradition for most of the summer.
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Held under the slogan “Back to the Streets,” the series of protests will be the first show of force by the movement since the “March of the Million” that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets on September 3, including a rally in north Tel Aviv’s Hamedina Square attended by more than 300,000 people.
“We will demand from the Knesset parliamentarians and the government to cancel the 2012 budget and launch a new social budget through cooperation with the public,” a message advertising the rallies says on a website associated with the movement, j14.org.il.
“Come out en masse to show our elected leaders that we are still here and we aren’t going anywhere!” The central event will be in Tel Aviv, where a march will set out from Habimah Square at 8 p.m. and head up Ibn Gvirol Street to Rabin Square, where a rally will be held at 9 p.m.
The protest will feature a performance by the legendary ’90s sketch comedy troupe Hahamishia Hakamerit, who agreed to reunite to perform a skit written by author Etgar Keret. Other events are scheduled for Haifa, Beersheba, Kiryat Shmona, Modi’in, Rishon Lezion, Jerusalem, Eilat and Hod Hasharon.
Saturday’s rallies will test if the movement can still convince masses of Israelis to hit the streets and protest, after almost two months when the movement has scarcely been in the press.
The movement was the darling of the media throughout the summer, from the time 26- year-old Daphni Leef and a few friends pitched their tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, in a gesture that quickly spiraled into a movement and a national phenomenon that dominated the usually slow summer news cycle.
With the launch of the Trajtenberg Committee on Socioeconomic Change and the dismantling of the tent cities last month, the movement has largely dropped off the radar, and has been further obscured by national events such as the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit two weeks ago.
Leef vowed on Thursday that the movement “will shake this country at its core until the government wakes up.”
At a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, she criticized what she said was government and media dismissal of the movement.
“If there’s one thing that swinish capitalism has taught me, it is that if you want something, you fight for it with all of your might.
And I want a future, that’s what I want... and I want every other person in this country to have a future,” Leef said.
“For two months, there hasn’t been a protest. For two months, we have tried to speak to politicians who sit in the Knesset...
two months after the largest public protest ever held in Israel, and I feel that they are always trying to besmirch or dismiss this protest, and I don’t understand why I’m in a war for survival against elected officials,” she said.
The next big event for the movement will be on Tuesday, when thousands are expected to take part in the “People’s Strike” across the country. Organizers say they expect the day to be one of grassroot, spontaneous protests and demonstrations, as well as free-flowing, egalitarian discussion groups.
Social justice movement spokesman Roee Neuman denied a Ynet report on Thursday that said National Student Union Chairman Itzik Shmuli had been denied the opportunity to speak at the rally due to a rift with Leef and other leaders.
According to Neuman, Shmuli did not ask to speak at the event.
The National Student Union also sent a response to the Ynet report that read: “Our response is ‘no comment.’” Shmuli had been a fixture at the rallies since early on and was considered the most prominent face of the movement along with Leef.
Neuman said that organizers still don’t have a clear expectation for the size of the protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday. The municipality asked them to pay NIS 35,000 to hold the event at Rabin Square, he said, adding that the city told him it expected 100,000 people to show up.
The Tel Aviv Municipality told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that it made no such request for money to hold the event.