Israeli supermarket (illustration)
Israeli supermarket (illustration) Flash 90

Is the “Milky protest”, also known as the “Berlin protest”, dying out?

Despite making headlines last week with the launching of a new Facebook page urging Israelis to move to Berlin due to the lower cost of food prices there, only a few dozen people arrived at a cost of living protest which took place at the Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening.

The low turnout was despite the fact that more than 23,000 people confirmed their attendance on Facebook.

The protest began when an Israeli who went to live in Berlin, claiming that it was the price of the dairy treat “Milky” that caused him to do so, launched the Facebook page and posted that he decided to look abroad “when I picked up a four-pack of Milky and put it down, thinking that I couldn't afford to buy it for my kids.”

That individual has not stepped forward, but other Israelis living in Berlin interviewed by Israeli media have all claimed that prices on everything were “better” in Berlin. Food, housing, clothing, and other prices were lower, and wages were higher, said most of the interviewees.

High rents and food costs, particularly that of cottage cheese, an Israeli staple, were among the triggers of a popular protest movement that peaked in 2011 with record numbers of Israelis from all walks of life taking to the streets and squatting in urban tent camps.

Organizers were hoping that the “Milky” protest will attract similar numbers, but so far, at least if Tuesday’s protest is any indication, it has not gone beyond Facebook.

Last week, Finance Minister Yair Lapid blasted those who initiated the “Milky” protest, saying that the issue is not just a matter of prices, but a matter of national loyalties.

"This is a discussion on the identity, history, and purpose of our country," Lapid stated. He added that protests like these - rooted in the 2011 social justice campaign - prompted his own shift from journalism to politics, and that he remains focused on lowering the cost of living in Israel.

Responding to Lapid’s criticism, the anonymous owner of the Berlin Facebook page said that it was Lapid, along wiht Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, “who destroyed the chances of us young people to build a home here.”