TA Social Justice Rally 'Fizzles' as Rockets Fall on South
About 20,000 people showed up in Tel Aviv Saturday night for a rally demanding social justice, as southern Israel faced a barrage of over 30 Grad missiles, Kassam rockets, and mortar shells. Although organizers said that they were satisfied with the numbers, far more people had been expected, and some organizers told reporters that they were disappointed that the rally had “flopped.” Responding to questions by reporters about the appropriateness of holding a rally while hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the south were hiding in fear of their lives, rally organizers said that “the situation in the south should not cause us to change our demand for social justice.”
Organizers hoped that the rally Saturday night would continue the success of rallies held in the spring and summer, when tens of thousands – and in some cases, even more – came out on Saturday nights to express their anger and frustration at the high cost of living, and enjoy top-flight entertainment from leading artists in Israel. Scheduled to appear Saturday night were veteran Israeli singer Shalom Hanoch, and the members of the Cameri Quintet (Hamishiya Hacamerit) comedy troupe, who were to present their first show together in nearly a decade.
A rally in Be'ersheva was canceled because of the rocket attacks, but a scheduled rally in Jerusalem attracted only some 3,000 people. Several much smaller rallies were held in several other cities. The low numbers, organizers said, reflected a major split between various groups supporting the rallies. Itzik Shmuli, head of the Tel Aviv University Students' Union, was denied a spot on the podium at the Tel Aviv rally, and instead spoke to the far smaller Jerusalem rally. Shmuli and fellow rally organizer Dafni Leef have been on the outs in recent weeks, with Leef favoring a series of major rallies, and Shmuli preferring to wait, saying that the national psyche was not prepared for mass social justice rallies at this time.
On Sunday, the government is set to meet and approve the tax plan set forth by the Trachtenberg Committee on the cost of living. Among the highlights of the plan are a cancellation of an increase in the excise tax for gasoline, an additional two tax credit points for fathers with children three and under (worth as much as NIS 5,000), an additional 2% tax on those with incomes of over NIS 1 million per year, and the cancellation of a series of import taxes and purchase taxes.