Arguing that their demands are not being addressed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) or the Trajtenberg Committee report, leaders of the summer’s “social justice” protest movement called for a nationwide “peoples strike” to begin on November first.
In a statement released late Monday, activists identified with the movement said that the strike would follow a mass protest on October 29, in which “the masses will take to the streets in a massive demonstration to call on the prime minister one last time to answer the demands of the people.”
“On November first, 2011, we will start a peoples strike, the first of its kind in the history of the state of Israel, and launch an additional stage in the historic struggle for social justice… on November first, 2011, we will all go on strike because of our individual distress but also in order to show solidarity with the hardships of others. We will not stand alone.”
The press release said that the movement will work over the coming two weeks to recruit as many citizens, businesses, organizations and social institutions as possible to participate in the strike.
Daphni Leef, an employee of the anti-Zionist New Israel Fund widely viewed as the unofficial leader of the movement, was quoted in the statement as saying “for three months we have shouted and no one there [in the government] is listening… three months of a justified protest, a demand for social justice. We have power and on the first of November 2011, we will show that we have power and we can stand up and go on strike.”
In the statement, members of the movement repeated their call for Prime Minister Netanyahu to scrap the 2012 national budget and work on drafting a new “social budget” for 2012.
Benny Katz of the Semitic Action movement told Indy News Israel that although the demands of the Leef group are just and the social issues they protest are very real societal ills in Israel, the motives of this particular group are suspect.
“While we support many of Leef’s demands against Netantyahu’s neo-liberal economic policies we have two major problems with Leef and her friends,” he said.
“Number one is that their protest represents Israel’s middle class, who while suffering to make ends meet each much, are far better off than the nearly two million Israelis living in abject poverty… Leef and her friends have failed to succeed in representing Israel’s real destitute or giving voice to their feelings.”
“Our second issue is that we’ve seen plenty of evidence that Leef and her friends are not truly interested in social justice but only in removing the Likud party from power,” he added. “We all know that Leef works for the New Israel Fund and that the housing protests she started were actually orchestrated by Stanley Greenberg and other American agents following Netanyahu’s speech before the United States Congress… We fear that Leef’s ‘social justice’ agenda is less about helping the weaker sectors of Israeli society and more about helping Washington get rid of a political leader they view as obstructing their agenda for the Middle East.”