Suicide or self-sacrifice?

Monday, July 16, 2012 |  Aviel Schneider
During the social protests in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, an Israeli from Haifa set fire to himself. Before he poured a flammable liquid over himself and set fire to himself, Moshe Silman, who is in his forties, read out a manifest written by himself and distributed it among the demonstrators. Spectators called for an ambulance immediately und tried to extinguish the fire with water that they had with them. Doctors are still trying to save his life because more than 80 percent of his skin are burned according to reports by Ynet on Monday.

In his letter he accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Juval Steinitz of humiliating Israel’s citizens and of helping the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor. He wrote: “I cannot afford medicine and rent, I paid millions into the tax funds and served in the army and that’s why I protest against all of those cruelties that the state is doing to people like me.”

Acquaintances of Moshe Silman declared that he was homeless and did not want to stay in this situation under no circumstances. He is not able to work any more since he suffered a stroke some years ago. The state, however, denied any kind of help and Silman had announced some radical kind of measure during the protests, according to his friends. The reason why he did not receive any support by the state is not known.

The act of self-immolation during social protests is a very extreme sign of protest. When this happened in Tunisia two years ago, where the unemployed Mohammed Boaziz committed suicide by self-immolation, in Israel there was the opinion that something like this would not be possible in our country.

Now, the question remains what the government’s reaction to the act of self-immolation will look like. Religious sources emphasize that Moshe sacrificed himself for the social purpose of the Jewish people. The social protests in Israel hardly led to success since the past year. There are many doubts if the government will change its policies drastically this time. Zion’s people is getting increasingly impatient because the government is only doing little.

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