Moshe Silman, who set himself on fire at the social justice demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, is “not an exceptional case,” left-wing Meretz party leader Zahava Gal-On said on Saturday.
“There are others in Israel like this demonstrator who have fallen between the cracks,” she said. “The shrinking welfare system has turned its back on them and they have lost everything — their home, support and hope.” Gal-On added that the “state authorities do not hear their cry.”
Gal-On expressed hope for Silman’s full recovery, and said Israel must “remember that social solidarity and a strong, functional welfare system can help people in this man’s situation deal with their despair and deprivation.”
MK Nino Abesadze (Kadima) was an eyewitness to the incident. She said that while she agrees with the social protesters’ demands and can identify and sympathize with Silman’s personal pain, she was shocked by what she saw. “This is not the way to achieve the goals of the protest,” she added, while wishing Silman a full recovery.
Protest leader Daphni Leef was quoted by Ynet saying that the incident was “an extreme act by a man who was broken by the cruel system.” Leef called on the government to “ensure that such tragedies never again take place.” She also accused the government of not taking care of its citizens. “The economic insecurity on the one hand, and the collapse of social services on the other, cause people to panic,” she said.
MK Dov Hanin (Hadash), who also attended the demonstration, wrote on his Facebook page, “How deep is the despair of a man who is willing to set himself on fire because of economic hardship? The reality in Israel is producing increasingly desperate people for whom the doors are closing — without a home, work or insurance.” Hanin added that “our society is abandoning too many people.”
Hanin called Saturday night’s incident a “terrible example.” He pledged “not to turn that pain into despair, but to turn it into anger and determination.”