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Unrest Stirring Over Lapid's Budget

The budget cuts did not spark mass participation during the demonstration on May 11, but Finance Minister Yair Lapid should not count on the public staying idle, writes Mazal Mualem. 
Potesters demonstrate against new austerity measures set to be included in the 2013-2014 national budget at a main junction in Tel Aviv May 11, 2013. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people demonstrated against the measures, which will be discussed by the Israeli cabinet on Monday. The sign in Hebrew reads, " They steal our money". REUTERS/ Amir Cohen (ISRAEL - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTXZJ79
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The middle class stayed home on Saturday night [May 11]. The public did not swarm the streets in an authentic display of anger at the harsh budget cuts thrust on them by Finance Minister Yair Lapid; people did not demonstrate in droves against the election campaign commitments violated willy-nilly by the same man in whom they placed such hopes just four months ago and who now explains to them, with great aptitude, why “he had no choice.” The demonstrations, which were supposed to jump-start a public protest, do not have a leadership for the time being and it is uncertain if one will emerge. Itzik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir, the vibrant young protest leaders who captured the public imagination in the summer of 2011, are now members of the Knesset, representing a strife-ridden opposition party with little influence.

In hindsight, Lapid and Trade and Industry Minister Naftali Bennett were the political leaders of that protest; they were carried on its back like rock stars to their seats in the Knesset and the government. Now that they have been appointed as finance minister and minister of economics, respectively, they are directly responsible for each and every measure against the middle classes.

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