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      Protesters: The Problem is Much Bigger than Just Housing

      Tent city protesters respond to Netanyahu's plan. "The problem is more than just about housing. Housing is just the tip of the iceberg."
      By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
      First Publish: 7/27/2011, 3:31 AM / Last Update: 7/27/2011, 5:45 AM

      The protesters in ‘tent city’ in Tel Aviv were among the many Israelis watching on Tuesday as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented his plans, long and short term,  for a resolution of the housing crisis. Arutz Sheva was there and brings you the reaction of some of them in the following video:

      Netanyahu’s plan includes cheaper land for buying apartments, reduced-cost rentals, solutions for student housing, and a reduction in public transportation costs for students in order to open the housing market to students outside city centers.

      While the protesters did not wish to directly respond to Netanyahu’s plan until they carefully review it, as opposed to the left and the opposition and the Greens who panned it automatically, protest participant Yuval Haklai pointed out that “this protest is about much more than a housing problem. The housing problem is just the tip of the iceberg.”

      Haklai said that Israel’s bigger problems are rooted in the way citizens view the government from a social and economic angle.

      “The shouts from these ‘tent cities’ all over Israel actually say that we want to solve this problem from its roots,” he said. “Something is wrong and the real problem is the way the government views these issues.

      “What Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to do is just to put out this little fire and solve the problem,” continued Haklai. “The problem is much bigger than that and it affects not only the housing or the residents or the students.”

      He did note, however, that seeing the government respond to the protests made him feel that the protests have accomplished something.

      “Something, I hope, is starting to move,” he said. “I think that people are starting to realize that the problem is big and that a lot of people feel it. It’s not just a problem of the doctors or of the social workers. It’s a problem of how the government sees its citizens and how it sees its social responsibility.”

      Haklai emphasized once again, as others have done before him, that in his opinion,  the protest is non-political and non-leftist. However, the New Israel Fund has been sponsoring it and fanning the flames, making that perhaps a naive assumption, even if the protest is justified.

      The media have been pushing a sense of crisis, actually comparing Israel, a country with an economic boom and thriving democracy where mobile phones are considered a basic necessity, with the Arab Spring protests. 

      The opposition and the left have been using it to bash Netanyahu, who in two years certainly did not cause the deep-rooted problems and has actually been the first Prime MInister to try to solve the housing problem from the start of his term.

      “This is not a leftist protest,”  Haklai said. “This protest is something that contains many communities and people in Israel, whether they’re right-wing or left-wing, just because they’re citizens of this country.”