Dr. Ron Avni of the Ben Gurion University and Prof. Ze'ev Zahor, president of Sapir College have initiated an online petition, calling to cancel Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.
Canceling the various events, they said, would free up $27.3 million in favor of socially conscious projects, such as exempting Sderot from VAT (value-added tax) payments.
The two have began circulating an online petition demanding to "put a stop to the spending of millions on celebrations" and for thier reallocation to "more important, just causes."
"We pitched the idea to various social groups, like the Movement for Quality Government in Israel and a few others, but there wasn't much response, so we decided to do it independently," said Avni.
Is it really worth it? The petition logo
Israel's 60th celebrations are expected to include – according to the ministerial committee tasked with their planning – "a gigantic music, laser and special affects show, public park parties, aerobatics flights and special tributes," as well as "the rehabilitations of 60 memorials, new cycling infrastructure around the Kinneret and between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv," and the list goes on.
As to where they would like to see the money funneled – Avni said that is up to the government. "We suggest the use the finds for social welfare projects, chosen by a public committee. In any case," he added "this is no time for celebrations."
"This is the time to change national priorities, starting with putting a stop to the lavish celebrations, aimed mostly at giving politicians another platform," said Avni.
So far, thousands of Israelis have reportedly signed the petition, which will be presented to Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima), who heads the anniversary committee, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, by the end of February.
The 60th-anniversary celebrations' headquarters declined comment on the arguments raised in the petition.
To sign the petition, click here