Tent protest founder may run in TA mayoral race

Daphni Leef, the 28-year-old Tel Aviv woman who started the social justice protests of the summer of 2011, could be TA's next mayor.

Daphni Leef at social protest 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Daphni Leef at social protest 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Daphni Leef, the 28-year-old Tel Aviv woman who started the social justice protests of summer 2011, is considering a run in the city’s next mayoral elections.
“I can’t lie, I am thinking about this seriously. I still haven’t decided whether to run or not,” Leef wrote, in a post on her Facebook page on Monday.
Her statement came the day after unknown persons created a Facebook event called “E is for elections – the official campaign launch for Daphni Leef for mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa.”
The event page, which appeared to speak in her name, said that this Saturday at 8 p.m., there would be a launch party at the place where it all began: Habimah Square on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard.
However, Leef said on Monday that “the event pages that were opened in my name have created a buzz that has reached me from every direction and have made this option a real one.”
She then issued a Passover greeting, saying, “I hope that after the holidays, we will go back to struggling for a more just society – one free of arrogance or the enslavement of anyone. Okay, that’s totally optimistic. But its okay to dream, even preferred. Giant hug.”
By Tuesday night, 287 people had RSVP-ed for the event, out of almost 7,000 invitees.
If she does decide to run in the October 22 elections, she will face incumbent Ron Huldai, who has served as mayor for the past 15 years.
Other candidates could include Hadash MK Dov Henin, who ran in the 2008 elections against Huldai on the City for All ticket, placing second with some 38 percent of the vote. If he were to run, Henin would likely attract much of the same crowd that would potentially vote for Leef, as would the Meretz party list, for which MK Nitzan Horowitz has been mentioned as a potential candidate.
In the summer of 2011, Leef became one of the most famous people in the country after she started a Facebook page calling on Israelis to join her in pitching a tent on Rothschild Boulevard to protest high rent prices. The protest began slowly on July 14, but by the end of the weekend, it had become a media phenomenon – and Leef became the face of a movement that saw some of the biggest demonstrations in the country’s history.
While other protest leaders like Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli decided to run in the last national elections – and won seats in the Knesset with the Labor Party – Leef turned down numerous offers to join party lists, and has largely remained distant from the public eye.