“This is a factional demonstration, don’t come! You're too political! What do you want, anyway?” How many times have we heard these comments over the last year? So what, do you think it will stop us? Absolutely not.
About three weeks ago, a number of organizations — youth movements and various groups — and key activists in the struggle for social justice decided to set aside many of our disagreements for the benefit of the following worthy causes: returning the state to its citizens and ensuring that it cannot use divide-and-conquer techniques between periphery and center and making sure that the state invests in its young couples, single mothers, social workers, students, miluimniks (citizens who do reserve duty), the Russian-speaking public and youth. Our country simply has no choice.
This demonstration is not partisan, but political. Because every act, every thought of ours is political. Whoever thinks that the social struggle (not protest, that term refers to the summer of 2011) can be apolitical should look for a "non-struggle struggle." Our social agenda and priority list — public housing, free pre-school education, a tax on capital gains, public transportation, health systems and concern for citizens in all spheres — all these are the result of policy and political decisions, not of "festivals," as critics have called last year’s protest since singers sang between speeches.
The demonstrations this Saturday night [June 2] in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva, Haifa, Kiryat Gat and other cities are on the theme of “Restoring hope, fighting for social justice.” These are demonstrations over the future of the country in the coming years and its social agenda, an agenda that we have been shouting about for almost a year. But it is important to emphasize: We do not exclude anyone. Everyone is invited. Right and left, secular and religious, Ashkenazi and Mizrachi, youth and adults, periphery and center of the country. Everyone who knows that he is being screwed by the present system and by politicians who have forgotten him long ago must come.
What are we demanding?
- Investment in the periphery: in public housing, affordable housing, public transportation, education, health and culture
- Increasing public services in all domains of the struggle (retirement pensions included)
- Lowering the cost of living by dismantling the monopolies in the Israeli economy and tightening control over production
- Taxing capital gains: increasing the direct taxation on high-level incomes while simultaneously lowering high indirect taxation such as VAT and the fuel tax
- Honorable work: the immediate abolishment of the "contract-worker" phenomenon in the State of Israel (more than 300,000 employees are contract workers), enforcing labor and pension laws, and returning sanity to organized labor in Israel
- Last but not least, and relevant to developments of the recent weeks in light of the scare tactics that have already begun by the Finance Ministry and Prime Minister’s office: a social and democratic state budget, abolishment of the biennial budget and abolishment of the Economic Arrangement Law
This time we will not yield, we will not stop, we will not give up until we achieve our demands, either with the current government or without it. We will continue until we succeed in restoring faith to our citizens’ hearts, faith in this apparatus called the State of Israel. This time we will not accept speeches such as the “Iranian ducks” (in Netanyahu’s US speech about the nuclear danger from Iran, he said “this duck is a nuclear duck”) instead of real solutions for the social gaps in the country.
Oren Pasternak is one of the organizers of the social-protest movement last summer and one of the initiators of the coalition of demonstrating organizations.