In June 2011, a Facebook group of Israeli consumers boycotted major food companies following the rise in prices of dairy products. Some 100,000 people joined the group and caused a dramatic decline in cottage cheese sales.
Following their success to lower prices, people felt and understood they had power that they have not yet fully utilized. Along with massive media coverage, their protests took off and created major public discourse about the cost of living in Israel.
A number of young people, furious about the high prices of real estate, set up tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. Without meaning to, they managed to sway thousands of people along and set up tents all around the country, and settled on the streets demanding change.
Every Saturday night throughout the summer, hundreds of thousands joined mass street demonstrations and protested the high cost of living in Israel. All across the country, a feeling of real change was in the air.
Year of civic responsibility
At the same time, ongoing negotiations took place in order to improve the working conditions of doctors, who demanded to earn a respectable living. Dr. Leonid Edelman took the protest a step further, began a hunger strike and marched by foot all the way to the government compound in Jerusalem.
But despite the agreement, hundreds of medical residents submitted letters of resignation following what they perceived as unsuccessful negotiations. Yet a court order required them to return to work.
Though committees were established and the social issues at hand were exposed all over the Israeli media, citizens claimed that the government maintained silence and that their prime minister was hiding out.
While most social protests are still ongoing, one five-year-long protest was finally put to rest. In October 2011, kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was released at last in a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas.
This was a year of Israelis marching out onto the streets, a year of civic responsibility, of making noise and of social activism.
Even though many of the protested issues have yet to be resolved, one thing is for sure: The citizens of Israel understood the magnitude and influence of getting their voice out and making themselves heard.