For the second weekend in a row, tens of thousands pour onto the streets
in Israel chanting “revolution” and demanding the Israeli Prime Minister,
Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu resign. This weekend, protests spread
throughout the country with numbers reaching nearly 200,000. The
demonstrations began when a spontaneous tent city was erected in Tel
Aviv to protest high housing prices and was quickly dubbed the “July 14”
movement. In following days, dozens of tent cities sprung up throughout
the country and over the weekend nine cities held protests against
privatizations, high prices, demanding “social justice”. The Real News’ Lia
Tarachansky spoke to Shir Hever and people on the streets about the
protest and why the economic situation in Israel is eroding the middle
LIA TARACHANSKY, TRNN: For the second weekend in a row, tens of thousands marched onto the streets in Israel.
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Our answer to privatization: revolution! The people demand social justice!
TARACHANSKY: While last Saturday a mass demonstration of 60,000 marched through Tel Aviv, this Saturday almost 200,000 people marched in more than 9 cities.
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Revolution! Revolution!
TARACHANSKY: The protests are organized under a banner call the July 14 Movement for the day it started, and saw 70,000 march in Tel Aviv alone.
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Revolution! Revolution! Bibi! Bibi! Quit! The workers are worth more!
SIGN (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Racism, housing shortage, for me it’s connected.
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Bibi, Bibi, that’s enough! Housing is not a circus! Save your time! We are not puppets of the government!
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Revolution.
TARACHANSKY (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Sorry–why are you yelling “revolution”?
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Listen, the middle class is collapsing. Graduated students can’t find work. I can’t see the day I’ll be able to buy a house. I can’t make ends meet. I have an undergraduate and a master’s degree, and it’s not enough. We want a revolution; we want hope.
TARACHANSKY: What are your demands?
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): That people can earn a dignified wage, that the salaries will be enough; free education for all; accessible housing for young people; investment in the peripheries, not just in the center; etc., etc., etc.
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The people demand social justice!
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): This demonstration started over housing and spread to all other spheres–oil prices, education, health care, basically everything.
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): They only talk about security, terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. It’s not enough for people anymore. They have to stop telling us fairy tales that because of security we must tolerate everything.
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The people demand social justice!
SIGN (SUBTITLED TRANL.): The solution is in Judea and Samaria (settlements).
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We won’t be exploited. All the power to workers.
TARACHANSKY (ENGLISH): The Real News spoke to Shir Hever, an economist and the author of The Political Economy of Israel’s Occupation.
SHIR HEVER, ECONOMIST AND AUTHOR: Up until the ’80s, a lot of people bought houses as an investment, but they mainly bought just one house for themselves to live in. And what happened is that they took mortgages, but the mortgages were not fixed inflation. When hyperinflation struck in the early ’80s, the mortgages lost their value. And these people are–in today time, they are already, let’s say, in their 50s, in their 60s, even. And now this is the revolution, or at least the protest of the next generation.
TARACHANSKY: In 1991, nearly a million Russian Jews immigrated to Israel when the Soviet Union collapsed. Today, they make up more than 20 percent of the population.
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): In Israel the mortgage depends on the price index, and the result is that people end up repaying this debt their entire lives and they become the banks’ hostages.
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): But that’s only one part of the immigration. The other are people aged 45 and over. They simply cannot buy an apartment at all. Their only hope is social housing, which officially stopped being built in 1996. And since then, 15 years have passed, and this problem is not being solved.
TARACHANSKY (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The majority of the Russian immigration never made it to the middle class. Why?
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The thing is that even those who haven’t earned their pensions here, that’s another major problem. After 20 years of work, they are now trying to retire. I mean, people who came at 30, 40, 45 years old, they are retiring completely poor and are still supposed to be paying off their mortgages. These are people who’ve contributed a lot to the state of Israel. They arrived as highly trained professionals. The state didn’t spend any money on these people’s education and received so much from this last immigration, and I think it’s time to demand what is owed.
TARACHANSKY (ENGLISH): At 1 a.m., hundreds blocked off one of the main intersections in the city and held a spontaneous sit-in.
SIGN (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Mubarak, Assad, Netanyahu.
SIGN (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): “Losers”
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Mubarak, Assad, Bibi Netanyahu!
TARACHANSKY: They were eventually removed by a joint security force of municipal, border, and riot police.
CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Police State! Police state!
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): A few people I recognized as undercover police approached a friend of mine. About three or four came up to him from behind. At the same time, ten or so border police approached him from the front. They simply grabbed him and removed him from the protest. That was the method of arrest of most of the people today. I’m 100 percent sure that they identify specific people. Undercovers told another friend of mine that he’s arrested if he doesn’t leave immediately.
TARACHANSKY (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): And on what basis? That they’re active in–.
DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): What basis? That they recognize them from other protests, or they saw them yelling something at a protest.
TARACHANSKY (ENGLISH): The next day, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu forced the manager of the treasury to quit.
TAXI DRIVER (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): I know many people who earn ILS 6,000 or 5,500. ILS 4,000 goes on rent, so they’re left with nothing at the end of the month. The protests are right: either you’re at the very top or you’ve got nothing. It’s the fault of all the governments, not just Bibi. I’m anti-politics, but it’s not just Bibi; it’s all the governments.
TARACHANSKY: On Monday, tens of thousands joined a nationwide general strike. For The Real News, I’m Lia Tarachansky in Tel Aviv.
End of Transcript
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