The housing protest against exorbitant rental rates and a lack of small apartment construction for students and young couples that began in Tel Aviv, has spread across the nation. Protest tent camps have also been set up in Jerusalem. The demonstrators want more housing solutions but also easier mortgage terms.
The activity was spearheaded by college student unions, joined by the movement for new Zionist initiatives, the right-wing ‘Im Tirtzu’, best known for its campaign against the New Israel Fund's anti-Zionist NGO's and sources of funding.
‘Im Tirtzu’ is now out of the game. “We started the protest a week ago, with great national support. The need for housing solutions is acute. Unfortunately, the New Israel Fund, along with the radical left have taken over the effort, and refuse to negotiate with the government to resolve the issues. The protest leaders on Tel Aviv’s Rothchild boulevard made it clear to us that they don’t want solutions – they only want to fight.”
Ronen Shoval, Chairman of ‘Im Tirtzu’ says that his movement refuses to be a ‘rubber stamp’ for cynical anarchists who want to take advantage of the plight of thousands of citizens out of narrow political considerations. “We will promote alternate constructive negotiations with the government to find a real solution for the housing problem.”
‘Im Tirtzu’ has announced that the radical left wing-affiliated New Israel Fund and its satellite organizations are now behind the housing protest. They claim that the protest leaders are associated with the fund. They quote Protest coordinator Lonny Nathanson who reported to Galei Tzahal radio that the large demonstration tent camp was built with donations from the New Israel Fund.
The ‘Im Tirtzu’ website says that the movement will provide emergency financial support for the housing protest in the peripheral cities around greater Tel Aviv.
Rachel Liel, chairwoman of the New Israel Fund said that “The local protests in Israel, like the protest against the expulsion of the children of foreign workers and the gas protest, have turned into a torrential deluge in the form of the cottage cheese protest, and now the housing protest as well. The New Israel Fund is proud to have participated in the social protests of the last decade, and is proud to assist this one as well, in the form of spirit, manpower, and resources.”
‘Im Tirtzu’ goes on to demonstrate the affiliation of protest leaders with the New Israel Fund, and states that “Dafne Leaf, touted by the media as a protest leader is a New Israel Fund video editor. Protest leader Ella Yeda’yah did her national service in the fund’s ‘Doctors for Human Rights’ association. Other leaders are members of the Arab-affiliated Hadash and Balad parties, and another is a member of the Anarchist’s movement.”
That statement served to cement the doubts of "Im Tirtzu" as to the politically inspired roots of this protest, whether its subject is justified or not. The housing protest became another instance of innocents being duped by those with a political agenda, in this case causing as much unrest as possible while Israel is under a Likud government. The ‘Im Tirtzu’ movement therefore decided to abandon the struggle and act in alternate channels to negotiate directly with the government to resolve the housing issue.