Saturday's historic rally
Photo: AP
Protest organizers on way to meet Eini
Photo: Yaron Brener

Thousands to strike for social change

Over 23,500 citizens RSVP to Facebook event calling for general strike; local authorities to join in

Israel's first Facebook-organized general strike is expected to take place Monday, with over 23,500 people who virtually announced that they will not come to work in demand for "social justice."


The strikers are to gather at Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park and "organize a 'Hyde Park' of opinions". "We will sit and talk about social justice," the event's initiator, Tzvika Besor, said, adding that "If any employer fires someone, he'll have to deal with 22,000 people. I hope everyone goes on strike."



The Union of Local Authorities in Israel joined in on the protest, calling on municipalities around the country to close their offices and stop trash removal, "because the government stopped serving its citizens and privatized most of its services."


The Tel Aviv Municipality decided to implement a partial strike, announcing that it would open its offices after 10 am, but other local authorities, including the one in Jerusalem, resolved not to joined the strike in order to "avoid hurting the residents."


'Message to tycoons, market leaders'

One of those joining the active protest effort is Yoni Shadmi, a history professor at Tel Aviv University. "The university reacted with complete understanding and additional elements in the private market have expressed support for the strike," he said.


Shadmi, who has been spending much time at the tent city that has sprung up along Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, explained why a strike is the weapon of choice in the battle for reform. "The goal is to change the rules of the game," he said.


"The middle class doesn't have a lobby, it doesn't control the media, it doesn't have access to the best lawyers. The only thing that it holds as leverage is labor. When the Israeli market and the capital production are hurt for one day, the tycoons and the market leaders will get the message."


Meital Levi-Tal, who works as an assistant director-general, will be missing work with five of her co-workers. "The business owner welcomed it," she said. "How often do you get to be a part of a real, non-sectorial social revolution?"


She said that the social movement's wrath should not be directed solely at the government.


"The concentration in the market has been cast aside in this struggle. The wealthy are a central part of the current crisis, and they just sit there quietly enjoying the fact that the fire is directed at the government. (Histadrut Chairman) Ofer Eini, who supposedly joined the battle, is the last link in the holy trinity that must be undone - the wealthy, the government and the representative of the market's large unions, who are squeezing the public purse at our expense."


On Sunday, Eini met with the activists leading the housing protest to discuss their continued joint operations.


Also as part of the sweeping protest, a group of 25 teachers are planning to pitch a tent in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's home, urging him to invest in public education and prevent privatization.


"The goal is for the State of Israel to take responsibility for education from birth to academic studies, and give equal opportunity to every child in Israel," Amnon Rabinovich, a high school teacher in the capital, said.


Israelis in Berlin show solidarity

In a show of solidarity for the struggling citizens, Israelis living in Berlin intend to hold a rally in front of the Israeli embassy there.


"I left Israel for the same reasons causing the protest," said Gabriel Ben-Moshe, an author and illustrator living in the German city, who is planning to join the demonstration. "The quality of life in Israel is not something that we could compromise on. For me, it was to leave or fight, and at that time there wasn't an organized battle. Now that there's a protest, I will do all I can to support it."


He noted that the international media's coverage of the controversial events in Israel is very limited.


After 150,000 took to the streets on Saturday to participate in mass rallies across the country, organizers of the protest said that the next step is the "Million Man March" – another Facebook event and a page from the Egyptian revolution's playbook. So far, hundreds have said they will attend the September 3 event.


Meirav Crystal, Dan Rimon, Tomer Velmer and Aviel Magnezi contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 08.01.11, 10:23
 new comment
This will delete your current comment