Monday, September 5, 2011

Tent City

Just over one month ago, a single tent was planted outdoors in the city of Tel Aviv in order to make a statement about the high cost of living in this urban metropolis. Specifically, protesters were making commentary about the exorbitant cost of real estate and rent for spaces that are merely shoeboxes when it comes to size. Think New York City: you know, paying $1,500 US in rent for a closet-sized studio on a fifth-floor walk-up in a bad part of town. It's the same way  of life in Tel Aviv (except here the salaries don't even come close to being able to pay the rent check). That one single tent and one single protester has grown into what has become Israel's largest protest in history. We're talking half a million avid protesters who aren't about to give in anytime soon:




These Israelis don't look like they are interested in negotiating. The rally against the inordinate cost of living has been gaining support by the hundreds of thousands as it continues to spread throughout the country like wildfire:




Just a month after the protest's opening days, the rally has reached a climax point with an approximated 450,000 protesters making a loud statement in the streets of Tel Aviv:




The battle going on in Israel in pursuit of social justice and a reasonable cost of living has made headlines all over the world. Whether or not their efforts will prove worthwhile in the end, one thing is for sure....the shared frustrations evident in these photos is obvious and widespread:




When you think back on 2011 thus far, you will be awed by the number of grassroots level uprisings that have been taking place throughout the world. Some have been met with success, some not. Israel is no exception to the rule when it comes to joining the bandwagon of these rallies where the people are taking control and stopping at nothing to have their voices heard:



 



And it does not stop with the protests as seen in the above photos. This social reform movement is going on day in and day out. These civilians are so adamant about seeking social justice and about refusing to pay the exorbitant costs of living for city life that they have constructed "tent cities" throughout the entirety of Tel Aviv (as well as in Jerusalem and Haifa). Say goodbye to the apartment life, these folks are making a new home out on the street and they are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of tent dwellers have helped to create thousands of "tent cities" across the country:




The tent dwellers sleep in the tents by night and camp out in centralized tent "town centers" by day where they remain in protest. This has been going on for well over one month and word on the street is that they are preparing for furnishings well into winter. The majority of people here in Israel seem to side with the protesters even if they're not taking part in the action. Rent prices and cost of living is parallel to what you would be paying in New York City with salaries that are only one third of what you would be making there. Their unified demand for social justice is firm and unyielding:

 




As nightfall descends on another day in Tel Aviv, the protesters head back to their new makeshift homes for dinner and for a good night's sleep where they prepare for yet another day of rallying. It seems that these makeshift communities, however, are becoming a bit permanent. I am quite curious to see what happens in the future. Having lived here almost a year, I have to say that I hope and pray that some sort of change does happen because I for one have felt the impact of this  paramount discrepancy between low salaries and an overwhelmingly high cost of living (especially for this part of the world):




If you haven't yet heard about these widespread protests going on in Israel, all you have to do is to check your local paper or TV news channel and I'm sure you'll see these images  for yourself.  The next few weeks will surely prove to be a most interesting sequence of events as the protests continue to gain strength and unfold here in the holy land.

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