Economy and Community

What Did the Social Justice Protest Achieve?

During the second session of the Bimat Mandel series we explored the question "What Did the Social Justice Protest Achieve?" The gathering was held on December 19, 2011 at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem.

National Student Union Chairman Itzik Shmuli, a leader of the social justice protest movement, and Moshe Krif, founder of "Hakeshet Hademocratit Hamizrahit" (The Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow), presented their positions and reviewed the impact of the public unrest this past summer.Rachel Azaria, a graduate of Cohort 18 of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership and a Jerusalem City Council member, moderated the panel and contributed to the discussion as an activist involved in the summer protests in Jerusalem.

Rachel Azaria described the social protest as an opportunity to redefine the meaning of Israeli society and the purpose of the state. She characterized the protest as a turning point in public consciousness and discourse, in which the public re-envisioned the purpose of the state of Israel from that of a refuge for world Jewry to that of a role model state for the world. She emphasized that the protest's central achievements were in the development of solidarity between different parts of soc​iety, and the opening of a public discussion about values.​ She saw the Trajtenberg report, with its strengths and weaknesses, as a valuable tangible outcome , one that can be held up to the public as proof that their efforts over the summer were not in vain.

Itzik Shmuli maintained that the social protests raised questions regarding th​e kind of society that Israel ought to be. The public, he said, would bring these questions to the ballot box during the next elections. He argued that while the tents of the summer protests have largely disappeared, the change in political climate remains—one in which the public will demand that society provides an equal chance for success to all its citizens. He saw the Trajtenberg report as a feeble response by the government to the protesters’ demands, overly focused on the practical and permissible rather than the ideal.


Moshe Krif saw the social justice protest as a well-intended effort to make change that lacked the clarity, professionalism, knowledge and diversity of participation that realizing such changes would require. He noted that previous attempts to highlight social inequality that were based around minority ethnic identification were easily dismissed by the media and the political establishment, whereas this protest achieved full legitimacy, despite not including those minority groups who suffer most from inequality. Krif described the summer protests as a first stage that raised awareness to the public, necessitating a second stage that would include both the clarity and the involvement of more peripheral groups in society that were missing from the first. He envisioned a more open Israeli society that moved away from the model of fortifying a closed, protected state to one that would see itself as an open-tent society, with room for engagement between the diversity of identity groups within the middle-east. He described the Trajtenberg report as a limited, yet useful device for engagement between the protesters and the political sphere in which the changes should take place.




Recent Bimat Mandel Events