Rabbi Ori Har Reports From Tel Aviv
TEL AVIV- 2 September 2011 – When walking through Tel-Aviv’s tent city on Rothschild Blvd., one may get the impression that they are walking through a communal camping ground, perhaps set up outside of a reggae music festival in the mountains. This feeling, however, would be deceiving. The rows and rows of tents along the boulevard are standing there for a completely different purpose.
We stand on the eve of the biggest Israeli civil demonstration ever, culminating seven weeks of protests and demands for social revolution and the restoration of a social government in Israel. I have overheard conversations in Hebrew, English, Russian, French and Arabic. This is not a movement affiliated with a political party. It is truly neither left nor right, religious nor secular, but rather a movement embraced by almost the entire population of the country.
Thousands of posters and signs hang from the tree tops, are posted to the tent doors, drape from the sculptures that normally adorn the street. There are signs asking for a clean environment, demands for changes in the housing laws, signs that say “Jews and Arabs for Social Justice”, and a half-dozen signs quoting the famous verse from this week’s Torah Portion, Shoftim: Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof (Justice, Justice pursue). “Revolution is made with love or should not be done at all” is painted above a neighborhood sculpture in the middle of the boulevard shaped like a heart.
All of this in preparation for the big event – the one million person march that will symbolically begin with a Havdalah at the end of Shabbat Shoftim and will unite people from all walks of life calling on the Israeli government to cease its financial corruption and pay as much attention to the people’s desire for affordable housing and education as to security and peace talks.