A Channel Ten poll shows that no fewer than 65 percent of Israelis are prepared to protest rising prices – whether in person at a demonstration, or more passively by participating in campaigns such as boycotting companies like Osem, which organizers of the “yellow vest” protests that took place last Friday accused of unjustifiably raising prices.
But according to Channel Ten, it’s likely that many would think twice before joining that movement if they knew who was behind it. A Channel Ten investigation indicates that many of the leaders of the protests are also activists in far left groups – and that at least one gets funding from a U.S. organization funded by none other than George Soros, the multibillionaire who is associated with many liberal causes.
After the success of protests last Friday, with over 1,000 people participating in a protest in central Tel Aviv against high prices, organizers of the protests are planning a much bigger one for next Saturday night, with accompanying smaller protests in other cities. In addition, organizers of the “yellow vest” price protest movement are calling for a boycott of Osem products.
The protests come on the background of recent announced price increases on a number of basic products and services. The Israel Electric Company has been given permission by the Public Utility Commission to raise rates between 6.9 percent and 8.1 percent, while the Water Authority said that water prices would rise nationwide by an average of 4.5 percent.
Dairy concern Tnuva has announced price rises of between 2 percent and 3 percent, and bakeries and bread companies are seeking price increases on price-controlled bread products of 3.4 percent.
Osem, one of the largest food manufacturers in Israel, announced that prices would go up at the beginning of 2019 by between 2 and 4.5 percent on a large number of its products, and the company was the target of particular ire by organizers of the protest. The organizers called on Israelis to stop buying Osem products, claiming that the company was quite profitable, and that it was just taking advantage of the atmosphere of price rises to rake in more money.
Organizers of the protests have called on Israelis to take to the streets and protest high prices wearing yellow vests, similar to the protesters who took to the streets of Paris in recent weeks to protest gas tax hikes.
Many Israelis have such vests; according to the law, all drivers must have a yellow vest in their vehicles, which they wear if they have to get out of the vehicle if they break down or have another problem while on a highway.
According to Channel Ten, the list of organizers behind the protests is rife with well-known figures from the far left. Among those leaders: Attorney Eldad Yaniv, well-known for his lawsuits demanding the removal of Jews from their homes in Yehudah and Shomron; Peace Now head Shaked Morag; former Peace Now head Avi Buskila; Meretz activist Dina Dayan; and Shai Cohen, who heads the Israel Alliance, which bills itself as “a new civic network” and stresses support for liberal issues. Among the organizations that fund his group is the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation – of which Soros is a major donor.
The allegations set off a storm of protest among members of the movement and the heads of the organizations. In a statement, David Mizrachi, one of the group’s leaders, said that “this is a protest of the entire public. It’s a shame that some people are trying to hitch a ride on this. At last Friday’s protest I chased away some politicians who were trying to politicize the protest, and I will do that at future protests. Unfortunately some people are trying to give this movement a political bent.”
Numerous members of the movement showed up at a discussion of the Knesset Economics Committee Tuesday, wearing their vests. Many of the participants slammed the Israel Electric Company for its planned rate increase. Mizrachi, speaking to IEC heads at the meeting, said that “if you raise rates by even one shekel we will show up at your houses and have demonstrations such as have never been seen in Israel.” Protesters interrupted the meeting with catcalls against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and shouting “the Likud is spitting on us.”