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Jewish Journal

Reform movement backing Israeli protests

JTA

August 8, 2011 | 1:27 pm

Housing protests in Israel. Photo by Eli Berckovitz

Housing protests in Israel. Photo by Eli Berckovitz

The Reform movement’s international arm is supporting social justice protesters in Israel.

The World Union for Progressive Judaism in a statement Monday said it “stands with all in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and every tent city established to say that the Israel for which we have all fought and sacrificed must be an Israel that treats its citizens with dignity and respect, and offers the most basic of needs: housing, food, child-care and education, to all in an affordable way.”

Reform becomes the largest Diaspora movement to back the protesters. Its statement marked the eve of the 9th of Av, the fast day commemorating numerous Jewish tragedies.

The protest movement, dubbed J14 for demonstrations that started July 14, brought some 300,000 people into the streets of Israel on Saturday night, the biggest turnout so far.

“Jews are supportive of social justice everywhere in the world including israel, and this is one of the great social justice events in israel’s history,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, who directs the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set up a commission to consider protesters’ demands.

Other U.S. groups to express support for the movement include the New Israel Fund, Americans for Peace Now and Ameinu.

Meanwhile, Israelis in the United States are pitching tents in public spaces, taking up the protests crisscrossing Israel. Small tent cities have sprung up in New York’s Times Square, across the street from the White House and at a park in Los Angeles, Ynet reported.

About 200 ex-Israelis and supporters of Israel’s housing protesters demonstrated Sunday in Los Angeles’ Woodley Park in a protest organized on Facebook, according to Ynet. The Israeli protesters said they would return to the country of their birth if the cost of living was less and the financial pressures were not as great.

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