After waging a battle against the rising costs of gas, the Israeli public has launched a new campaign recently – against the escalating prices of dairy and other foods.
Facebook pages have popped up recently calling for a boycott of food products whose prices are on the rise, and this month the focus of the popular protest is cottage cheese.
"We considered the prices of housing, we joined and opened groups, but then we realized that the protest must start in a place that applies to the entire public," said Yitzhak Alrov, a cantor from Bnei Brak who initiated the measure. The Facebook group he opened, entitled "Consumer Boycott of Food Products," threatens to shun each month a new Israeli-made product whose price is 50% higher than in Europe or the United States.
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The group already has more than 20,000 members.
"Maybe this way we will manage to reduce the prices and reach some level of sanity," Alrov said. "Israeli products are sold abroad for less than they are in Israel. In every place where price regulation is eliminated, the prices drop because of competition – but not in Israel. Here everything just rises, a real cartel."
'Must get over desire for cottage' (Photo: Ben Kelmer)
Prices doubled in recent years
A recent price check at popular supermarkets showed that a container of the cheese costs NIS 7.09-7.29 ($2.07-2.13) – only slightly less than a liter of gas.
"A few years ago, when the regulation was still in effect, cottage cheese cost NIS 4-4.5 ($1.17-1.31)," Alrov said. "Now the price has doubled. They are celebrating on the people's expense. And it's just the beginning.
"If the situation is not fixed, we will boycott more and more products," he added.
Last year the price regulation was removed from many dairy products. In recent months the public has been calling for the reinstatement of the regulation, and Alrov said he hopes that the protest campaign will hurry the decision.
"If we don't get over our desire and the momentary satisfaction we get from purchasing cottage cheese, we will never be able to reduce the price," Alrov insisted. "There is no reason for us to be so disproportionally screwed."
Ze'ev Grauer, who has been leading the battle to reduce gas costs for the past seven months, is familiar with the price escalation phenomenon. He lauded the formation of the cottage cheese protest, and promised Alrov the support of his followers. "They're like us… fighting against the high cost of living," he said. "We must unite so we don't break. I believe that this is how we can bring on real change."
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