Israeli Protester Dies After Self-Immolation (NY) TIMES) By JODI RUDOREN JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 07/21/12)
NEW YORK TIMES
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JERUSALEM — Moshe Silman, the desperately indebted Haifa man who set
himself aflame last weekend as part of a social justice protest in
Tel Aviv, died Friday from the second- and third-degree burns over 94
percent of his body.
In the year since 400,000 people filled Tel Aviv’s Rothschild
Boulevard last summer, setting off a national protest movement, Mr.
Silman, 57, had become a fixture of demonstrations in Haifa. His self-
immolation stunned but also galvanized the protest movement, which
had been struggling to find its footing.
Many have compared Mr. Silman to the fruit vendor in Tunisia whose
self-immolation in January 2011 touched off the Arab Spring uprisings
that have changed the geopolitics of the entire Middle East. Several
other Israelis attempted self-immolation over the past week, and
leaders of the social justice demonstrations in Haifa have been
grappling with the shift in tone.
“He sacrificed himself,” his sister, Bat Zion Elul, who made the
decision to take him off life support, said in an interview with
Channel 2 News broadcast on Friday. “He really sacrificed himself for
the sake of others, for those who are in the same position as him,
who don’t have anything.”
The son of Holocaust survivors, Mr. Silman had once run his own
messenger service, but the business struggled after the second
intifada. A small debt from the National Insurance Institute spiraled
out of control, and his applications for public housing were
repeatedly rejected. He later suffered a stroke and was declared
disabled. Mr. Silman never married or had children.
Friends said he was on the brink of homelessness when he arrived at
the Tel Aviv protest Saturday night with gasoline and a suicide note.
(Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company 07/21/12)
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