The tent city protest officially started on July 14th, when some Israelis set up tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard in protest of the rent being too damn high in Tel Aviv. It has turned into a much larger movement about low wages and social justice, leading to a rally that was held last Saturday.
At least 300,000 people (nearly 4% of the population!) took part in the rally on August 6th to put pressure on the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who immediately began downplaying the protests. Even years ago, current President Shimon Peres predicted that Netanyahu’s economic policies would lead to “6,000 millionaires and 6 million beggars,” and some believe that to be coming true. Israel is second highest in disparity among economic classes (the United States is first on that list), with many middle class families spending at least half of their income on housing.
Leaders of the tent city protest, as well as youth group and social group leaders, issued a statement today outlining what they feel are the main principles behind the social justice movement. According to Haaretz.com, The Vision Document presents these six principles for creating an alliance between the state and the people:
minimizing social inequalities (economic, gender-based and national) and creating social cohesion; altering the main principles of the economic system; lowering the cost of living, achieving full employment and state-imposed price controls on basic items; giving a clear priority to the areas on the outskirts of cities, both in the social and the geographic sense; treating the essential needs of the weaker population in the country, with an emphasis on the handicapped, the elderly and the sick; investment by the state in its citizenry in the fields of education, health and personal safety, and providing genuine solutions to the housing shortage, from transportation to public infrastructure.
There are some demands that go along with the principles, but haven’t been released yet because there has been no discussion between the government and the protesters.
Follow hashtag #J14 on Twitter for updates on the tent city protests.