Protesters aligned with the so-called social justice movement in Israel have been setting themselves on fire as they protest the high cost of living and demand more government entitlements. One man -- Moshe Silman -- died last week, while others have carried out copycat acts in an effort to draw attention to their financial woes. The Israeli Freedom Movement – Israel’s version of the Tea Party – is warning the situation has the potential to spiral out of control and is employing its small but powerful voice to counter the tide calling for a return to socialism and statism, as promoted by the social protesters.
Israeli Freedom Movement founder Boaz Arad plans to discuss this and other developments when he travels to Texas for a meeting of like-minded groups from around the world, organized by FreedomWorks during Glenn Beck’s Restoring Love gathering this week. Arad tells TheBlaze in an exclusive interview:
In Israel, our movement is a lone voice of sanity, and it’s important people know that this voice exists, despite the fact that it’s ignored by the mainstream media. We are fighting for freedom, a reduction of the government’s role in the economy and in citizens’ private lives, as we stand opposite the media and [social justice] protest movement which are leading the public – like the Pied Piper of Hamelin – to dangerous places.
As he was about to board his flight for the 7,000 mile voyage to Dallas, Arad expressed his excitement in a telephone interview with TheBlaze from Ben Gurion International Airport on the outskirts of Tel Aviv:
I expect that the meeting will strengthen our courageous colleagues and the forces for good in the world. It’s important for me to express my appreciation on behalf of our group to Glenn Beck who stands with Israel against a climate of hostile ideas. The Arab world is falling apart around us, with bloodshed, which only illustrates how precious our freedom is and how important it is that we protect it.
Restoring Love holds special significance for the Israelis as it marks one year since they hosted FreedomWorks leaders in Tel Aviv, including President Matt Kibbe, and those who traveled from the U.S. to participate in Glenn Beck's Restoring Courage events in Jerusalem and Caesarea last summer.
Now, they get to visit the Tea Party's home turf at FreePAC where they hope to exchange tips and grassroots political strategies that can help translate their unique vision into political success.
Arad says at least one other group member plans to travel to Dallas, and despite their small representation it’s important to note the situation in Israel holds particular significance in light of the recent socio-economic and political developments. This is a country not only founded on socialist principles but presently facing the vocal, Occupy Wall Street-like protesters who are largely supported by the mainstream media in their push for wealth distributive reforms. Arad explains:
The social protests are leading Israel in a problematic direction. The man who burned himself is one example of how the social justice movement is becoming more noisy and violent. It’s a tragic event, but the fact is that the atmosphere that’s being created demonstrates we’re going in a very negative and dangerous direction. What we’re trying to do in the Israeli Freedom Movement is to introduce rational arguments to the public discourse and prevent the danger of masses following a Pied-Piper like leader in a direction that will lead to destruction.
In the public arena, we are the only movement trying to strengthen freedom, to make government smaller and reduce the role of government. We’re a lone voice and it’s very important to strengthen and maintain freedoms in Israel.
Israel is a country that has made great strides toward capitalism in recent years but still suffers from enormous levels of government regulation, sky high income taxes, import taxes and a 16% value added tax (VAT) on most goods and services. Arad says the average Israeli has to work 168 days each year just to pay off the tax bill before beginning to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Since TheBlaze first introduced this group to readers, its members have held a variety of events bringing their unique vision and rational argument to a public often swayed by raw emotion.
In June, they held a demonstration to protest the Netanyahu government’s plan to increase deficit spending to 3% instead of the present 2.5% deficit level.
Standing opposite the throngs of social justice activists, Freedom Movement members waved Greek flags as a symbol of the perils of unrestrained government spending. They were in good company, as even Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer blasted the move, warning the decision could scare off foreign investment in the country. He said:
This country needs to show that it intends to continue a strong fiscal policy, more similar to that of Finland than of most of the countries in Europe's weak economy.
On May 1, “May Day,” they held a memorial service at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to pay tribute to what they estimate to be the 100 million victims of communism worldwide.
In Hebrew, the group calls itself the “New Liberal Movement,” and its website address is www.liberal.co.il. Using the word "liberal" – leeberalee - was an intentional choice based on the classical economic meaning of the term. Members say they didn't want the left to "hijack" the word as they believe occurred in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Arad says that since last year’s Tel Aviv meeting with FreedomWorks, the group has grown from 400 to 1,000 active members. “We continue to grow and are very optimistic both for cooperation and our future successes,” he says.