Five years after social protests, has anything really changed?

On July 14, 2011, 25-year-old video editor Daphne Leef pitched a tent in Tel Aviv’s Habimah Square to protest high rental rates in the city.

Within a day, she was joined by others on the adjacent Rothschild Boulevard; a day after that, the National Union of Israeli Students enlisted in the effort and soon after, other protests popped up around the country demanding “social justice.”

The government did what it always does in a crisis: It formed a committee, this time to address cost of living concerns. But protesters were not assuaged. By September, demonstrations ballooned into the “March of the Million,” which really was an estimated 300,000 protesters in Tel Aviv and some 160,000 in 19 other cities.

For months, the protests and their leaders dominated the news cycles. Individuals whom the vast majority of Israelis had never heard of before became household names, with Leef at the fore. Continue reading

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