A wheelchair-bound protester for disabled rights said she felt humiliated when a noted socialite handed her a wad of bank notes during a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, the businesswoman and former reality TV celebrity Nicol Raidman went to visit Sara Netanyahu, when she encountered a disabled-rights protest outside the Netanyahu home.
After speaking to the activists, including Hannah Akiva, she dipped into her handbag and pulled out some NIS 2,000 ($570) in cash and pressed it into her hand. telling the demonstrators she wished she could do more to help.
“It was a humiliating moment, which as far as I am concerned didn’t help me,” Akiva told Channel 2 TV. She handed over the money to protest organizers to help pay for expenses, she said.
Akiva suggested that rather than it being a spontaneous act of charity Raidman appeared to have come prepared for the exchange.
“She arrived with her Mercedes, spoke with us and suddenly took out money that was ready in her bag,” she said.
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Raidman, however, said she reacted spontaneously out of compassion after hearing of Akiva’s difficult personal circumstances.
“It seemed like a logical act from someone confronted with a difficult situation,” Raidman said Wednesday in a joint interview with Akiva on Army Radio. “I think anyone would have done the same in that situation, reach into their wallet and give what they have.”
“It was not a lot of money, it was just what I had in my purse,” she added.
“I am very surprised by the reaction, it came from the purest of motivations,” Raidman continued. “I just wanted to help.”
Akiva conceded that Raidman was trying to do what she felt was right.
“It was embarrassing to put me in a situation like that, but I could see in her eyes her good intentions,” she said.
Police closed roads around the residence as a result of the protest, during which demonstrators shook the front gates to the compound and called on Netanyahu or his wife to come speak with them about their demand for higher monthly disability payments.
The demonstrations, which have been taking place since earlier this year, have seen disabled protesters block main roads around the country as part of their bid to raise awareness for their demands.
In September, Finance Ministry officials and disabled rights activists agreed on a compromise deal that would see disability benefits raised to up to NIS 4,500 ($1,270) a month.
However, one group, the Panthers, has rejected the agreement and is still fighting to bring benefits up to NIS 5,000 ($1,430) — on par with the minimum wage. Members have since continued to block roads and intersections all over the country.
In 2011-2013 Raidman took part in the Channel 10 reality television show “Me’usharot” based on the US show “The Real Housewives.” She has launched her own luxury clothing and perfume brands.