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Occupy Israel: Tents down, struggle continues

Published time: October 22, 2011 05:36
Edited time: October 22, 2011 12:51

Tents in Tel Aviv's Rothschild avenue (AFP Photo / Jack Guez)

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Israel is another country which has recently witnessed weeks of protests and calls for social justice. But while the tent camps are gone, the change demanded by activists is nowhere to be seen.

­The streets of New York have been seeing anger, outrage, and protests for over a month now. And some 10,000 kilometers away in different streets, but with the same scenes, Israelis are pushing towards the growing worldwide Occupy movement.

“The politicians in the United States exaggerated in the same way as did the politicians in Israel,” says Dr. Elisheva Sadan from Hebrew University. “They went too far in taking for granted their citizens.”

Not that long ago Israelis, inspired by Occupy Wall Street, were calling to occupy Rothschild Boulevard. Yanina Lebed joined the protests from the very beginning. She was inspired by what happened in Cairo and called her tent “Tahrir Corner.”

“We also had carpets here, people were sitting and we were playing music every evening, people were coming and talking to us,” said Yanina Lebed.

As Yanina watches events unfold in far-away New York, she misses the six weeks she lived in her Tahrir tent on Rothschild Boulevard, and wishes she could be part of the Wall Street rallies. 

“On a personal level of course I really miss this period, like a month-and-a-half of total agitation, and so many hopes,” she says.

The protests in New York have strong parallels with those in Israel in how they came about and why.

“The similarity between the protests is uncanny,” says Ami Kaufman, a writer and co-founder of +972 magazine. “The way they started on Facebook. The way they chose a location very close to where the center of power is, or the center of greed is, in [the] case of Wall Street.”

But many are wondering what exactly that struggle in Israel achieved. Recommendations made by a government committee still need to be implemented, which could take a while.

Today Rothschild Boulevard looks like any other street in Tel-Aviv, but less than a month ago it was the focal point of social change revolutionizing Israel. The tents have been replaced with bikes and strollers, and the social demands are still waiting to be met.

Like many American-Israelis, Ami Kaufman is watching the US rallies closely and says they are an inspiration to many in Israel. He is proud that people are taking a stand against corruption and greed.

“The protest, the struggle and the anger, is in the people still,” Kaufman says. “And the struggle is still going to go on.”

More and more people around the globe seem to share that view.