The trigger for the French “yellow vest” protests, that began on November 17, was a fuel tax increase, which citizens took as evidence of President Emmanuel Macron's indifference to their problems. There's little doubt that this is a genuine popular protest.
The trigger for the Israeli version of the yellow vest protests, which began just a few days ago, was an increase in municipal taxes, as well as in the prices of electricity, water and staple food items. As happens so often these days, social media was the instigator for this protest. Among the organizers were David Mizrahi, known also for his activity in the "disabled protests," and activist Shai Cohen, who is identified with the Labor Party. Few others bothered to join, though the several hundred protestors who took to the streets were accompanied by MK Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, and Labor MK Nahman Shai.
The aim of the yellow vest protest, said Mizrahi, is "to stop the price increase, to weaken the monopolies, and reduce the cost of living that weighs heavily on all Israeli citizens. That is the heart of the struggle." Despite an impassioned appeal to the masses, the Israeli protest turned out to be a pale version of what's happening in France. That may have something to do with the fact that this protest looks too much like a copycat to be attractive. This kind of "imported" protest has been tried before in 2011, when what at first appeared to be a genuine civil movement known as the "Rothschild Boulevard protest" turned out to be a well-organized political campaign funded by controversial organizations like the New Israel Fund.
That fact that organizers were only able to muster a fraction of the promised thousands of protestors could indicate a growing weariness among Israelis for rigged demonstrations. As worthy as the stated underlying goal might be, at this point the yellow vest protest is suspected of being yet another political campaign in disguise. This suspicion is bolstered by the participation of Shai Cohen, who donated 100 of the yellow vests being worn by protestors.
Cohen, noted reporter Akiva Novick, is the CEO of The Israeli Alliance, an movement for social change that's funded by none other than the Tides Foundation, which in turn receives much of its funding from George Soros. Tides describes itself as "working to advance progressive policy in the fields of social justice, environment and human rights."
Explaining the dismal turnout, Novick wrote: "Had the leaders of the yellow vest protest been honest enough to say, 'We are an opposition protest affiliated with the left,' then the political fingerprint wouldn't have been a big deal. But when they insist that the protest is a-political, then the participation of an organization like The Israeli Alliance becomes a big deal."
Unfortunately, what could have been a worthy cause will now most likely slip quietly into oblivion because of dishonest political maneuvering behind the scenes.
PHOTO: Only several hundred people showed up for what was touted as the start of a massing public movement. (Gili Yaari/FLASH90)