Last year’s social justice protests will return to Israel this summer, just with more focus, anger and specific demands, and without the tent cities that defined the summer of 2011, a leader of one of the groups looking to reignite the protests said Sunday.
«Summer protests will return and be more political»
Idan Miller, a 40-year-old Tel Aviv hitech worker and one of the founders of the group “the joint camp” (hamahaneh hameshutaf), said that the summer’s protest will also be political, a marked divergence from the oft-repeated refrains of last year’s protest leaders, who characterized the demonstrations as a sort of apolitical, pan-Israeli awakening of overburdened citizens.
“This summer’s protests will be much more political, because we realize that the changes happen in the political realm,” Miller said. “Those who hold the keys are those politicians who are trying to be the prime minister.”
Miller added that they “won’t just be about shouting social justice and saying ‘I’m not political.’ This time we’ll say we are political and the only way to change things is at the ballot box.”
Saturday night’s protest against rising gas and electricity prices brought together several hundred people and was the largest street demonstration since the “March of the Million” held last September. While it was similar to last summer’s rallies – protesters shouted for revolution, red flags were on display and there was a half-hearted attempt to block a major city thoroughfare – Miller said it also showed how this summer’s protests will be different.
“The protest this summer will be much more focused on very specific issues, like last night’s protest, which was focused on two specific issues: gas and electricity. There are a number of concrete issues and we will try and force the system to focus on them,” he said.
Miller said he believes that the protests will only kick off in earnest in May, with the opening of the Knesset summer session, but when it will, it will not include tent cities and the urban Woodstock vibe of last summer.
Around a half dozen protest groups are planning demonstrations in the coming months, with most talk focusing on reigniting the protests this summer.
They appear to be on fertile ground, at least according to a survey released by the College of Academic Management Studies last week, which stated that 78 percent of Israelis feel the cost of living protests should continue.