FROM VICKY (KNAFO) TO DAPHNE (LEEF) / By Irit Rosenblum, Advocate

The housing protest, which by now has been on public agenda for several weeks, reminds those, who forgot – that Bibi is the same Bibi and even worse. A short reminder – if we go back to 2003, when Bibi wanted to harm one of the most vulnerable sectors of Israeli society – single moms. Then, as today, the symbol of the protest was a woman – Vicky Knafo. But then, Knafo, a hard-working woman from, a small town in the periphery, employed in various day jobs, represented the lower social class of Israel. Now, eight years later, a Tel Aviv single, well-educated, working woman finds herself in an identical spot, then occupied by Vicky Knafo. The distance from Mitzpe Ramon to the Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv has never been shorter, even without a railway to connect them.

For me, as a woman, it is heart-warming to see that the feminine voice is the one that has raised the flag of social protest for the second time. One can say that this is a woman-style revolt – one that encourages attention, listening and open dialog, without violence. This is a strong protest that is conducted quietly. However, it is important o remember that the leader of the tents protest is actually the message, and the message is despair of the non-ending burden the State levies time after time of the same sector of the Israel society that regularly undertakes all the social, security, economic and what not burdens.

In 2003, the veil was removed to uncover Bibi’s real nature. Then Bibi chose to cut down the meager benefits paid to Vicky and others like her. At present, he is jeopardizing the people, who do no depend on State benefits, the people of Israel’s middle class, who are actually the backbone of Israeli society, who try to earn an honest living, by long working hours. Knafo and Leef are both working women, who get lost in the labyrinth of work, childcare, home-making on one hand and economic problems, taxes, childcare and education expenditures, health expenditures, not to mention the main issues of housing and caring for the future. Thus, the lives of these women are not lives with honor, but are characterized by despair and loss of hope.

These women are the main victims of Bibi’s heavy-handed policy, they are weakened and he refuses to listen to them – their voice is left unheard. Perhaps he disparages that voice or he does not understand its importance. Leef and Knafo have been paying a physical, social, mental and emotional price for taking part in the struggle for changing the face of Israeli society as a whole, for improving the conditions of life of all its components – men, women, children’ the elderly, the handicapped, the peripheral areas of the country as well as the center, religious and non-religious, settlers, Israeli-born people and new immigrants – in fact, the entire Israeli society.

In the overall medley of communication spins and arguments against the Rothschild Boulevard protest, the “periphery spin” appeared, arguing even demanding that these young people leave Tel Aviv and move to the periphery. This is a misleading and demagogic argument, which actually contradicts the opposite argument of Bibi’s government about the “natural growth” in the settlements. Do not Tel Aviv residents, who were born in Tel Aviv, have a right to “settle” in their home-town? Similarly to the children of settlers, who wish to have their home in the settlements, where they were born and grew up?

It is quite ironic to say that the common denominator between Vicky Knafo – a single mom from Mitzpe Ramon – and Daphne Leef – a young single woman from Tel Aviv, is Bibi Netanyahu and his heavy-handed economic policy. Both women have experienced at first hand the harsh obtuseness of the Treasury’s policy and the unwillingness to provide for the citizens of the State, all of them, from Dan to Eilat.

There is an apprehension that the Tents Protest will end like Vicky Knafo’s protest – with nothing. If the backbone of the Israeli middle class is broken, the social and economic repercussions will be enormous – Leef, contrary to Knafo, and like many of her generation, can easily leave the country and emigrate. She and the people of her generation, who have lost hope to build a home in Israel will do it elsewhere – they have a choice!

Netanyahu, who wishes to be perceived as the advocate of National Zionism, has actually been preventing the settling of the country. He, who wishes to appear a Zionist is in fact committing a non-Zionist act: the prevention of building homes in Israel.

Sadly, it is possible that Knafo’s situation was better that Leef’s – Knafo dreamt of being able to financially cope with every-day life, while Leef is dreaming of a roof over her head, which is much more costly…

This entry was posted in MediaTagged: Leave a comment