Daily Israel Report

Daphni Leef: I'm Not a Leftist

Social protest leader Daphni Leef tells Arutz Sheva: I'm not a leftist. There's no right or left in this protest, just people.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 9/7/2011, 7:10 AM

Daphni Leef
Daphni Leef
Israel News photo: Yoni Kempinski

As Israel's social protest tents fold up and the government neutralizes the radical elements in the protest by forming a committee of respected experts to suggest feasible changes that won't wreck the stable Israeli economy, Arutz Sheva had a conversation with Daphni Leef.

Leef is one of the leaders of the social protests in Israel, and in her conversation with Arutz Sheva on Tuesday, she denied that the protest is a leftist one aimed at overthrowing the government.

“As an individual I can tell you that I’m not right or left, ” Leef said. “I’ve lost my faith in the elected officials whoever they are. That’s why this protest is so important.

“There’s no right and left here,” she added. “What we do have here is people. Each person will live by his own faith, as they say [an Israeli saying, paraphrasing the prophet Habakuk, who actually said "the righteous man will live by his own faith", ed]. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we all deserve to live here with dignity. The hardships that arise from all sides are hardships that are not related to right and left. They are related to impossible living conditions.”

Leef said that “there are people who are in situations of sub-human living conditions for dozens of years and there are those in the middle class where this has permeated and any minute now they can be on the street. We are all together. We have to come out strong and say that there’s no right and left here. There are people here who want to live in this country and they don’t want to live in a situation of basic survival, because a situation of survival is a situation in which you can’t think of anything except for how you make ends meet.”

Referring to the public letter she signed along with dozens of other pre-army-aged youths declaring a refusal to serve in the “army of occupation,” Leef said: “I’m very sorry that people choose to talk about a document I signed when I was 16 years old or something like that, when there’s a big, wide protest here. This protest is much bigger than the sum of its parts. 

“At the end of the day the most important message I have to say is that we want a social budget,” she added. “It’s very very important.  We want as wide a public discourse as possible around this issue because we want to be part of the change and I call on all viewers of Arutz Sheva to come out of their homes, vote with their feet and understand that there’s no more right or left in this story. There are just people.”

Leaf reaped a great deal of criticism when it was discovered that she lives in the wealthy neighborhood of Kfar Shmaryahu and when Maariv commentator Erel Segal publicized that she works as a video editor for the New Israel Fund. At a well publicized speech during the protests, she claimed: "“Bibi broke the camel’s back".