'Superheroes' protest against consumerism

Demonstration targets business ‘supervillains’ at Azrieli Mall in central Tel Aviv.

demonstrators protest against consumerist culture _370 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
demonstrators protest against consumerist culture _370
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Is it a man, a plane, or a once-nationwide protest movement marking Purim with a bit of street theater?

If you answered the third, you may be right.A few dozen demonstrators from a variety of “social justice” movements converged on the Azrieli Mall in central Tel Aviv on Thursday to protest against predatory banking, rampant materialism and, along the way, mall security guards.The protest, titled “superheroes against supervillains,” was held to highlight the negative business tactics of Israeli tycoons, symbolized by the posh shopping mall.Other than the two protesters in Superman outfits, there appeared to be a rather loose definition of superhero on display, with most protesters wearing fake “banker” costumes, Guy Fawkes masks, or similarly themed gear, with a “sexy cop” thrown in for good measure.One female protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and holding an Apple keyboard said she was “the hacker that’s bringing down all the government websites.” To emphasize her point she held a sign that said, “We are Anonymous,” in reference to the international hacker consortium.Named Shir Alon (when not Anonymous), the protester said she took to Azrieli because “there are still so many people who have not woken up and they need to be woken up.” Alon said Azrieli was chosen for the protest because “it symbolizes the method of the system, and it’s the place people come to bury their heads in the sand.”Outside Azrieli, Idan Almog, dressed as “Superbanker,” said the group chose the mall because it symbolizes “a culture of consumerism” that serves a small group of massive companies that stifle competition and keep prices artificially high.One of the loudest protesters was a young man wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase and a bible wrapped in fake 100 shekel bills, with green dollar signs painted on his face. He paraded around the stores imploring passersby to “go back and shop, don’t worry, just keep shopping!” For the most part it was difficult to tell who was taking part in the protest and who was a Purim reveler in costume doing some pre-holiday shopping. By and large, shoppers appeared to respond positively to the protest, with some joining in the chants of “the people want social justice” echoing up and down the escalators of the mall.Almog said the protest was warmly received by the very Israelis sucked into the mall on Purim.“People really enjoyed it and they took part, not just the kids but some of the adults too.”