Sunday, August 14, 2011

Israeli Social Justice Rallies

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What's it all about? What suddenly happened in Israel that sparked thousands to come out and demonstrate in the streets against the economic situation?
I'll let Chaim the Barber from the development town of Bet Shemesh tell you his take.  I happened to be in Bet Shemesh on Friday, and downloaded bushels of hair at the local barber – a barber shop that I've never been to. Chaim the Barber is a Sephardic Jew, representative of the simple working class Israeli.
Chaim the Bet Shemesh Barber/Political Commentator
I asked Chaim what he makes of these demonstrations. Here's what he said:
"It's a known thing that it is the extremist left that started these demonstrations. They have some guy from America who is paying for all the food and tents. Did you see the pictures? All the tents are the same, because they are mostly being provided.
"They started these demonstrations because they hate Bibi [Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister who has widespread support of the Sephardic working class] and seek to bring him down. Since the security situation under Bibi is relatively quiet, they looked for other problems to focus on to bring down Bibi.
"I can't understand the left, how they go with the Arabs on some key votes and decisions. If and when the Arabs come to kill Jews, they won't ask what party the Jew voted for? They won't say, 'Oh you voted for the Labor party, so we will leave you alone.' No, the Arabs will massacre every Israeli they can. So why doesn't the left stand up for Israeli interests, against the Arabs?
I asked Chaim if he thinks the outcries over the financial situation are justified.
"Yes, the demonstrations are justified. It's simple.  A few years ago, I would go to the supermarket and buy a basket of groceries for 300 NIS. Today, that same basket costs 500 NIS. So, people work, make money and barely get by. How can anyone save up money for anything outside of the regular monthly expenses? People used to be able to save a bit, but now you work and you spend and you finish the month back at zero.
"Prices are high, and the feeling is that it is not justified. Thank G-d the economy is strong and people have work, but prices here are so much higher than elsewhere, that you can't channel your money towards other desired goals. The prices have to come down. Something has to change. The people demonstrating are right. We pay something like 100% tax on cars. Why? And we pay heavy taxes on gas. Why?
"So while their initial motive was to bring down the government, I don't think we need a new government. I think we need to send a message to this government that we are not satisfied with the way things are. They must find solutions to bring down housing prices – both rental and purchase. And they must find ways to make the basic staples cheaper. As long as the organizers of these demonstrations will not speak their political opinions, then we can join them.
So there you have it. A real working class Israeli from a development town telling you what the demonstrations for social justice in Israel are all about.

As a new fundraising campaign for the Bet El Yeshiva Center, I am, by popular demand, selling my hair from the above haircut for $36 per strand. Contact me for more details.

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  1. 36$ a strand?! I feel like protesting! Where can I get a tent? and when's the concert??

  2. So there is your solution, right wingers -- start an Israeli TEA Party. Demand tax cuts, an end to bureaucracy and a devolution of policing and construction approval to local communities. Why does it take some dozen government goons to approve a construction permit? All it should take is the mayor of the municipality! And why do the police in Yosh answer to leftist goons in Tel Aviv? They should answer to their yishuv's mayor!

  3. You could also have asked him why Israelis don't take to the streets to protest the neglected Jonathan Pollard and Gilad Shalit.


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