Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has presided over a period free of war or major terror attacks, but the quiet is showing signs of boomeranging on him as long-simmering discontent over the direction of the economy comes to a boil.
Tens of thousands of protestors marched through Tel Aviv and clashed with police Saturday night as they called for “social justice” and the prime minster’s resignation. Along the city’s Rothschild Boulevard and other towns across the country, tent cities erected to protest the high cost of housing began sprouting a week ago. Doctors are now marking their 17th week on strike.
The housing protest is the latest in a serious of campaigns that have surfaced in the last half year. Last month, a massive Facebook campaign forced dairies to lower the price of cottage cheese. New drives are targeting disposable diapers and other products. Before that, it was gasoline prices. Strikes have been called by social workers and Foreign Ministry diplomats.
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“There’s been a policy of lowering taxes and many people grew wealthy. But the middle and lower income groups got fewer services. The labor market has changed. Once, everyone worked full time. Now many people, even the middle class, work part time or without social benefits or tenure,” Roni Kaufman, a lecturer in the social work department of Ben-Gurion University, told The Media Line.
A poll released last week by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and Tel Aviv University, found that three-quarter of those surveyed said their economic conditions had worsened in recent years or remained the same. Only 3% said it had “greatly improved,” according to the poll of 599 people take June 27 and 28.