Monday, July 23, 2012

The Death of Moshe Silman: An Israeli Tragedy

A weekly protest for social justice taken July 7 2012
This last week a lot happened in Israel. From the tragic terrorist attack on Israelis in Bourgas Bulgaria, to Kadima’s pulling out of the government, the news channels have been filled with plenty of “headlines." These headlines also included the death of Moshe Silman, a protestor who was became known among the protesters in Haifa as someone dedicated the cause.  On July 14, at the weekly protests set at reigniting last year’s massive protests Moshe Silman set himself on fire as a last attempt to have the government recognize and address his difficult social situation.  The video itself of him setting himself was shocking to say the least, with ninety percent of his body receiving burns.  Once set on fire, the shocked crowds around him did everything possible to put out the flames, dowsing him with what little bottle water they had and hitting with any materials they had to extinguish the fire.  Once put out, Moshe managed to prop himself up and shout a few slogans calling for tsedek hevreti-social justice, then ate a popsicle which a policeman gave him, and finally was whisked away by an ambulance. On Friday, July 20, he died.  Since his case, other desperate people have set themselves on fire. 

I could go into details about Moshe’s story; however, I choose not to. For those who wish to read more about him (see link for one I suggest), there is plenty of news articles dedicated to his life and the daily struggles he faced to stay afloat, to work with pride, and to live in decent housing.  Moshe is the story of so many struggling Israelis.  On my last trip to Israel, and with every passing trip, I am always shocked at the deterioration of the Israel society. The gap between rich and poor is striking and the injustices can be seen with little effort. The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had the nerve to say that Moshe Silman’s story was one of a personal tragedy.  What hutzpah! We should not and will not forget Moshe Silman, the one who dared to challenge the Israeli injustices, to stand face-to-face with the bureaucratic machine which even if it ends up providing social services does so only after a humiliating journey.   
Below is the translated letter left by Moshe Silman (published on the following blog entry which also provides a detailed and eyewitness account of the event including pictures, which I have chosen not to reproduce). It says it all; I will not comment:

The State of Israel has stolen from me and robbed me, left me with nothing,
and the Tel Aviv District Court blocked me from getting justice.
The registrar at the Tel Aviv District court, broke the law, disrupted legal proceedings, out of condescension.
It won’t even assist me with my rental fees
Two committees from the Ministry of Housing have rejected me, despite the fact that I have undergone a stroke and was granted 100 percent work disability
Ask the manager of [state-owned housing company] Amidar, in Hafia, on Hanevi’im Street.
I blame the State of Israel
I blame Bibi Netanyahu
and [Minister of Finance] Yuval Steinitz
both scum
for the humiliation that disenfranchised citizens go through day in and day out, that take from the poor and give to the rich, and to public servants
those that serve the State of Israel
The National Health Insurance, especially the manager of their operations, and the manager of their claims department, on Lincoln Street in Tel Aviv, who illegally seized my work equipment for my truck.
The Haifa National Insurance Institute branch, who abused me for a year until I was granted disability
That I pay NIS 2300 per month in Health Insurance taxes and even more for my medicine
I have no money for medicine or rent. I can’t make the money after I have paid my millions in taxes I did the army, and until age 46 I did reserve duty
I refuse to be homeless, this is why I am protesting
Against all the injustices done to me by the State, me and others like me..."

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