Biggest Rally in Israel’s History


israel-rallyHundreds of thousands marched today for lower living costs in the largest such rally in Israel’s history, bolstering a social change movement and mounting pressure on Prime Minister Binyomin Netanyahu to take on economic reform.

Protest leaders called it “the moment of truth” for the grassroots movement that has swollen since July from a cluster of student tent-squatters into a countrywide mobilization of Israel’s middle class.

“An entire generation wants a future,” read one banner as demonstrators flooded the streets of Tel Aviv, Yerushalayim and cities throughout Israel, shouting “the people demand social justice.”

Netanyahu has warned he would not be able to satisfy all the protesters’ demands, ranging from tax cuts, to expansion of free education and bigger government housing budgets.

Organizers said over 450,000 people took part in the demonstrations. Police put the number at least 300,000.

Protests on that scale in Israel, with a population of 7.7 million, are usually held over issues of war and peace.

“Tonight is the pinnacle moment of a historic protest,” Amir Rochman, 30, an activist from Israel’s Green Party said.

“Israel will no longer be the same,” Itzik Shmuli, head of the National Student Union and one of the protest leaders said at the rally. “Our new Israel demands real change in the priorities of its government.”

Though the turnout was lower than the ambitious one million some had hoped for, commentators said the movement had made its mark on Israel by catapulting the economy onto a political agenda long-dominated by security concerns and diplomacy.

Social media also played a role in the Israeli protests, inspired partly by the impact of Arab Spring demonstrations.

Since it began, the popular movement has upstaged a diplomatic face-off with the Palestinians for U.N. recognition of statehood and has posed the greatest challenge yet to Netanyahu, halfway into his term.


Although Israel enjoys a low 5.5 unemployment rate and a growing economy, business cartels and wage disparities have kept many from feeling the benefit. Many protesters come from the middle class which bares a heavy tax burden and sustains the conscript military.

The weekly protests prompted Netanyahu to set up a committee to explore a broad revamp of economic policies. The government has also announced housing and consumer market reforms.

Protest leaders have indicated they will pause demonstrations in the coming weeks until the committee submits its conclusions. But Shmuli said at the rally that the movement was “here to stay.”

“Priorities must be set, one thing comes at the expense of another,” Roni Sofer, a spokesman for Netanyahu, told Israel Radio Saturday, adding that the government would not break its budget.

Netanyahu’s governing coalition faces no immediate threat, but the protests have underscored the potential electoral impact of a middle class rallying under a banner of “social justice.”

{Reuters/ Newscenter}


  1. #1: You really don’t know what you’re talking about. 400,000 people would be huge in any country…kol shekein Israel, that’s like five percent of the total population. Or something.

  2. Like the Arab Spring, a subversive movement sprung from where? and giving the long-suffering general population no true improvement – look for the Obama community-organizing provocateurs!
    Don’t accept at face value “spontaneous” rallies, protests, etc. These events have a festering point, a la Saul Alinsky, y’shm. Just think about the whole series of events, then examine what eventuates!

  3. Sure that the numbers are inflated by the media,(they’d be lucky if 100,000), These protests worldwide are all from the same source and in Israel, it is being done to bring down the Netanyahu government. Common sense. The leftists have pushed out the religious and nationalist small factions who really have a justified gripe with housing hikes, but the others are a ruse.

  4. To #3: Such a comment is absolutely unacceptable. Whether a Jew is chassidish, litvish, ashkenazi, sephardi or not-yet observant, a YID IS A YID.

    Every Yid has a chelek from HaKadosh Baruch Hu in his neshama; and all of the heilige seforim teach us that we must love and honor every YID because of his yiddishe neshama.

    IT is chodesh ELUL #3, do Teshuva!

  5. Netanyahu will be thrown out of government and some low life will make the ‘appropiate changes’ including renaming the country ‘Palestine’.

  6. The solution to all economic problems in israel is to end the army draft. (It’s an outdated and ineffienct system anyway) Create a professional army NOW. It will mean people in the work force earlier and less people living on welfare.

  7. These protests are significant and the people in power should not pay lip service to the hopes, aspirations and concerns of the protestors. Israel’s economy grew by 5.4% last year which was very good but the opportunities must be made available to as many people as possible. All nations have pockets of inequality and disadvantage. I am convinced that the dividends of peace in the region will flow on to all people including the Israelis.

    Blessings for the State of Israel.

  8. This was not the biggest rally in Israel. The biggest rally was against the supreme court with a half million chareidim. These anti government rallies hike up the numbers and are finance by obamas henchmen to bring down current right wing government.

  9. Without the cynicism about the left-wing, secular, anti-religious and Sorros,, there is need for immediate changes in Israel’s systems. RENTALS are needed in every neighborhood, allow builders and contractors to build and benefit from having a few rentals in each building, import taxes, VAT and monopolies should not be continued.
    Allow all able bodied men to work with or without IDF service..etc.