Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tent City on Rothschild Boulevard

After the "cottage cheese revolution" on Facebook which forced the big dairy cartels to reduce prices or face the wrath of the consumer, a new protest movement has emerged and is camping out on swanky Rothschild Boulevard. Young people, some families with children, are protesting against prohibitively high rents which, combined with their low wages, make it impossible to make ends meet.

Economists say that 70% of Israeli wage earners would have to pay more than one third of their income to repay their monthly mortgage repayments. In other words, they can't afford to purchase an average apartment.

The "new homeless" have jobs, iphones and laptops but not enough disposable income to pay their constantly rising rents . "It drives me crazy" said one activist."Half of my wages goes on rent." "Add electricity, rates, water, internet and food and there's nothing left," said the mother of a son who was camping out.

The Rothschild campsite is already turning into a circus with all types of characters joining the fun. In his left hand this hand this man is holding a loaf of bread with '2003' written on it - a reference to kikar halechem (which means both a loaf of bread and 'Bread Square') the failed 2003 protest movement that set up a similar camp in a similarly upscale neighbourhood - Kikar Hamedina in north Tel Aviv. In his right hand he's giving Bibi the boot.
A variety of guitar players are on site as are all the TV stations, with everyone speculating whether this is the beginning of a real grass roots movement or yet another flash in the pan.   Meanwhile, the housing minister is blocking all sorts of proposals for controlling rents while arguing that market forces should rule and the landlords' property rights should be respected. In some big cities (London, Boston, Rome) , large percentages of new housing projects are designated for affordable housing. If Tel Aviv wants to keep the young people that are its life blood, people who work in the arts, in the media , academics, it will have to find a similar solution.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Unfortunately I am unable to see the photos for some reason, just little boxes with red x's in them.It would be a hard choice: Internet/cell phone/computer or HOUSE. but I think the answer would not be live in the streets with my techie toys as much as I'd miss them. Hope this gets resolved to everyones peace and happiness and well being.