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Social Justice protesters block Tel Aviv highway (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL SHEFLER 07/16/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=277567 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Hundreds of protesters blocked Yitzhak Sadeh Street and the Ayalon Highway in central Tel Aviv on Sunday in a show of solidarity with demonstrator Moshe Siman, who set himself on fire in the name of social justice a day before. After police cleared the streets, the protesters moved along Namir Street towards the Arlozorov Station.

Earlier, protesters held a moment of silence when rumors circulated that Siman had died of wounds he suffered from the immolation.

Protesters began banging on an ATM machine but border policemen gathered around it and protected it from further damage.

"It´s going to be a rage demonstration," said Yael Ben Yefet, an organizer and director at the Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow. "I think people are on the verge of crying, me also, or want to strike someone or something." She added that if violence erupted, it would not be initiated by protesters, but would be a form of "counter-violence."

"There is violence: by the government. They are the violent ones. And maybe today something will strike back," she said. Demonstrators read aloud the suicide note left behind by Moshe Silman, who accused the government Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of being directly responsible for his financial predicament. Silman, 46 years old, had complained that he received no rent assistance despite suffering a stroke recently and no longer being able to work.

Participants at the event included former Hadash lawmaker Dov Hanin, social protest leader Stav Shafir and other activists affiliated with the movement that began a year and a day ago on Rothschild Boulevard.

Oded Neeman, an Israeli studying at Harvard who is home on vacation, tried to boil down the social protest movement into a few sentences.

"Basically, there is very little chance for middle class and below to make a living here," the 30-year-old PHD student in philosophy said. "[This is about a] more just distribution of goods through more taxation of the privileged, the old traditional way. Even as it stands, taxes are not collected properly. Those with greater means pay little and get away with huge debts but those who have nothing cannot pay back their debts. People recognize this and won´t let it go on."

Other protests took place simultaneously in Jerusalem, Silman´s hometown of Haifa, and in Beersheba.

In Jerusalem, police arrested at least three demonstrators after they tried to block roads at Paris Square. About 80 demonstrators marched from Independence Park to the prime minister´s residence chanting: "We are all Moshe Silman!"

The protest started peacefully but once the demonstrators attempted to block the road, clashes broke out between the demonstrators and police, though there were no injuries.

In Haifa, dozens of protesters demonstrated outside government offices and expressed solidarity with Silman. Some of the protesters said they identified with Silman, and that they too had been pushed to the edge by government bureaucracy relating to public housing, Army Radio reported.

Melanie Lidman and Jpost.com staff contributed to this report (© 1995- 2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/16/12)

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