Organizer of new tent protest marks successful first day

By Assaf Kamar

Tents are back on Tel Aviv's swanky Rothschild Boulevard, three and a half years after a hugely popular social protest movement over the high cost of lviving.

It was just after midnight on Sunday night when Shai Cohen, the force behind the new "I'm 40 and I don't have an apartment" protest on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard, reflected on the success of the day's events.

"First of all, this was one of the most special and perhaps most successful birthday parties I've had," said Cohen. "A lot of people arrived in person or showed support through social networks.

 "Apparently the things we said are no longer personal issues; these are issues affecting many people who feel the political conversation in this election campaign is disconnected from our real needs as citizens."

The motive behind the protest is to refocus public attention and debate surrounding what is a pressing issue for a growing number of Israelis who say they cannot afford to buy or rent a home.

 Cohen, a father of two from Givatayim, made headlines after posting a status on Facebook about his financial inability to purchase an apartment in the central Israel, despite the fact that he and his wife work full-time.

 While the majority of participants in Sunday's protest did not stay in the encampment overnight, those who did received pizza and beer provided by a social activist. During the 2011 protests, activists organized food donations from restaurants for the hundreds of activists who stayed in the encampment.

 Two pizza trays sufficed on the first night of 2015's protest.

 "I expected a slightly more anarchistic atmosphere," said one activist.

 Another explained his motive for protesting. "I get help for my parents. Not a week goes by without someone asking me for a loan, saying he can't pay his rent."

 Dr. Joseph Zernik, a human rights activist and representative of the Occupy TLV organization who lives in the permanent encampment for those lacking homes on Tel Aviv's Arlozorov Street, came to encourage the new encampment. "This is my second tent in the city," he said. "I live in the permanent Arlozorov encampment. I have electricity and chemical toilets there.

On Monday morning, the protest site was to receive a visit from workers protesting mass lay-offs in the south. For now, it remained to be seen whether this rekindled protest would match the mass appeal seen in 2011.

 Source: Ynet News
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