Israel's social justice rally fails to make waves

November 3, 2011
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As the Knesset began its winter session this week, crowds gathered outside to protest against social inequalities

As the Knesset began its winter session this week, crowds gathered outside to protest against social inequalities

The social protest movement that swept Israel during the summer tried to revive itself last weekend in Tel Aviv, but despite a star-studded line-up of supporters, it was a far smaller affair.

According to police estimates, the rally drew around 20,000 and much smaller numbers at simultaneous protests in Jerusalem and Haifa.

A recent split in the movement's leadership contributed to the diminished returns on Saturday night: National Student Union chairman Itzik Shmuli has broken with the young leaders of the Tel Aviv protesters.

Mr Shmuli was incensed when the Tel Avivians turned down the Trachtenberg Commission report endorsed by Prime Minister, saying that while "the report is not perfect, it has some good recommendations and we should try to work on making them better".

He also criticised the "crude" way that the movement's most prominent leader, Daphne Leef, addressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference last week.

The organisers were aware that following the euphoria of the Shalit deal and as the first rains began to fall, it would not be as easy to draw the masses to Rabin Square. Despite a performance by rocker Shalom Hanoch and a reunion of the Chamber Quintet satire team, the numbers were disappointing.

Last updated: 2:22pm, November 3 2011