Appreciate this article? +972 depends on your support -- click here to help us keep going

Analysis News

Man sets himself on fire at the end of Tel Aviv march (UPDATED)

Update: As of Sunday morning, Moshe Silman was reportedly fighting for his life, with burns on more than 90 percent of his body. According to Ynet, in the weekly cabineet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the act a “great personal tragedy” and said that he asked welfare and housing officials to look into the case. This Haaretz report details a decade-long struggle against a  ”bureaucratic nightmare” that prompted the act, and a solidarity protest was scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv Sunday night. 

An Israeli man was rushed to the hospital this evening (Saturday) after he set himself on fire at the end of a march calling for social justice in central Tel Aviv.

According to police estimates, some 10,000 people marched, marking the first anniversary of the J14 movement’s inception. After an otherwise uneventful march that culminated on Kaplan St., a man in his 50s distributed several copies of a typed letter, poured gasoline on himself, and torched his clothing.

Those present on the scene succeeded in extinguishing the fire before ambulances arrived and rushed him to nearby Ichilov Hospital. He was photographed eating a popsicle before being whisked away, though later reports described his condition as serious. He was later moved to the larger Tel Hashomer Hospital.

Man pictured following attempt at self-immolation after J14 protest in Tel Aviv, July 14 2012 (photo: Activestills.org)

The letter he distributed details his financial, housing and health difficulties, along with his anger at the state “for the humiliation that disenfranchised citizens go through day in and day out, that take from the poor and give to the rich.” A 2008 account on the Israeli financial site “Economist” surfaced online following the incident, and appears to detail some of his troubles: according to the text, the man sued the National Insurance Institute after it seized his five trucks, which he used to run a delivery company, over a NIS 5,000 debt. The result, he claimed in the suit, was the collapse of his business and ultimate financial ruin.

The translation of the suicide letter is below; the spacing reflects the original. Scroll further down for more images and a short video depicting the incident and its aftermath. We’ll continue to post updates as they emerge.

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. — 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% work disability

Ask the manager of 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

 

Protesters extinguish fire after man torches himself during Tel Aviv protests (photo: JC / Activestills)

Israeli man pictured after those present manage to extinguish the fire (photo: JC / Activestills)

Letter distributed by man who torched himself at J14 rally in Tel Aviv, July 14, 2012 (photo: JC / Activestills.org)

 

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • COMMENTS

    1. sh

      Not breaking, broken.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Rafael

      Rather ridiculous, an Israeli trying to pull a Boazizi. Acts of resignation don’t fit well in Israel’s culture.

      Reply to Comment
    3. SARDONICA55

      Yes Rafael, that’s it, Israelis cannot be subject to the dispossession and destruction of dignity that is endemic of late capitalism. Absurd.

      Reply to Comment
    4. yoav

      @raphael – bouazizi didnt invent self-immolation, it has been practiced for ages to show discontent and resignation with an static status quo – you might recall the monks during the vietnam war?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Warner dj

      It’s Stupid to put yourself at Fire.
      When you want Fire, Let it burn in your hart.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Chepsky

      @Raphael

      We have Bibi’s Bush Tax Cuts for the rich, as people are distracted by Iran, Palesinian “Terrorists”, Cancerous Infiltrators by African Refugees.

      Meanwhile ordinary Israelis are shafted and people like Raphael can still manage a snotty dismissive tone towards a man nearly burning himself to death. Just where does this disgusting aristocratic attitude come from?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Moschops

      This blows the Myth of Israel as some Jewish Disneyland.
      America/Europe take note: Israelis are suffering too at the hands of their own politicians.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Maor

      Moschops, three question to you:
      1. Where in the world are you from?
      2. In your country, was there ever a case where a person committed or tried to commit suicide because of a bad economic situation?
      3. If the answer to 2 is “yes”, will you ask America/Europe to take a similar note on your country too, or the note is reserved only to the Jewish Disneyland?

      thanks!

      Reply to Comment
    9. XYZ

      Here is a listo of suicide rates from countries around the world:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_rates
      Note that Israel has a low rate, lower than those wonderful, Edenic-like welfare states such as Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and Canada. Recall, in addition, also that Sweden, which is held up to be the perfect welfare state had both a Prime Minister and Foreign Minister assassinated.
      Of course, this incident was carried out as a political act, but it was done out of personal despair, and it is despair that drives people to suicide.
      To compare the situation in Israel to that which was in Tunisia is preposterous. Interestingly enough, the one who started the whole thing in Tunisia did it not to “overthrow capitalism” but because he wanted to start his own capitalist business but the regime wouldn’t let him.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Rafael

      @Yoav
      Did I say it was Boazizi who invented self-immolation? I do think it was Boazizi that the poor bastard had in mind, though. He probably thought he could stir up some Israeli uprising against The Rich with an act combining heroism and resignation. Well, as I said before, I don’t think this fits well with Israeli culture. It does with Buddhism, with asceticism, with a culture of non-aggression and of care for the poor. It doesn’t with a culture that idealizes military aggression and in which “pioneering” means land-grabbing precisely what belongs to the poor.

      Reply to Comment
    11. sh

      “To compare the situation in Israel to that which was in Tunisia is preposterous. Interestingly enough, the one who started the whole thing in Tunisia did it not to “overthrow capitalism” but because he wanted to start his own capitalist business but the regime wouldn’t let him.”
      Why preposterous? Corruption at the top and poverty at the bottom, intolerance of political opposition, laws limiting freedom of speech and action. And a man who wants to be able to continue to earn enough to support himself and his mother. What do ideologies have to do with it?

      Reply to Comment
    12. AYLA

      when did comments on this site turn into a playground of grown men pulling each other’s hair? A man has set himself on fire, people. @Moschops–I understand your comment, and sure, it’s a diaspora perspective, but there’s nothing wrong with that; this site happens to target diaspora readers, so I’m sure you’re welcome here. There’s a joke someone once told me (I’ll gloss over the details) about God offering someone the choice between heaven and hell, and describing the places in the exact same way. The person was confused. What’s the difference, he asked? God said one was being a tourist in Israel, the other was becoming a new citizen.

      Reply to Comment
    13. XYZ

      SH-
      You really think the pre-revolution Tunisian dictatorship was the same as Israel’s current situation? You think most Israelis feel that way?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Maskil

      The note doesn’t state “That I pay NIS 2300 per month in Health Insurance taxes,” but rather:

      “That from 2,300 shekels a month I pay health insurance tax and more for medicine”

      It is a complaint about the meager stipend from which he has fixed costs and no money left for living, not a complaint about the high cost of insurance and medicine.

      Reply to Comment
    15. radii

      the money the U.S. gov’t gives to israel on-the-books works out to about $7000 per person, so just from U.S. money alone this man should not have been put in this situation – what is coming to head globally is that the 1% has been shifting massive amounts of wealth from the working class to themselves and often it is mafia and corrupt politicians in cahoots with the big banks … israel was founded by mafias and they scam worse than most

      Reply to Comment
    16. Ari

      If it indeed turnes out that our bureaucracy took a productive member of society and torned him into a dependent on the state then we need to fix it immediately.
      Bureaucracy is there let’s not deny it. Let’s not deny it. Let’s fix it.

      Reply to Comment
    17. sh

      “SH-
      You really think the pre-revolution Tunisian dictatorship was the same as Israel’s current situation?”
      I think it was not as different as you would like it to be. But I have a question for you: did you ever visit Tunisia? If not, on what do you base your observations?
      .
      “You think most Israelis feel that way?”
      I don’t worry about what most Israelis feel in order to form an opinion. Ignorant as I am, most Israelis turn out to be even more ignorant, not because they’re stupid but because their experts feed them skewed news and opinions and most don’t take their news from sources that might make them uncomfortable.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Woody

      You only need 2% to build a revolution and 5% to carry it out. Harsh responses by the state only fuel the popularity of the movement. Once the spark has been lit, there is nothing that will prevent this country from changing…and it will.

      Reply to Comment
    19. What Ayla said:
      .
      “when did comments on this site turn into a playground of grown men pulling each other’s hair? A man has set himself on fire, people”

      Reply to Comment
    20. BOOZ

      @Greg :

      The man may have set himself ablaze, this is still not good enough for a Noa Shaindlinger .

      Reply to Comment
    21. XYZ

      SH-
      Thank you repeating the radical Left’s line that THEY and ONLY THEY represent “the people”. It doesn’t matter what all the individuals think or want, only what the “revolutionary Left” thinks because, as you say “everyone else is stupid”. They are supposedly not capable of viewing the situation and coming to rational conclusions based on their observations, because they are “manipulated”. I could, of course, say the same thing about the revolutionary Left…that they are the ones who are brainwashed and not objective.
      The fact is that the media in Israel was controlled by pro-MAPAI-Labor Party for decades…they had the electronic media to themselves and most of the newspapers supported them and, later, the “Oslo peace process” yet the voters voted AGAINST the will of the media. Thus, most people DO think for themselves.
      Most Israelis are not happy with the monopolies and cartels that have been ripping us off for decades. They would welcome reforms but this does not mean supporting the Far Left’s “war against capitalism”. These demonstrations by the anarchists and Far Left will end up repelling average citizens who might be willing to get involved in true efforts for democratic (and by “democratic” I mean classic parliamentary democracy of the type Israel and other Western countries have) change.

      Reply to Comment
    22. sh

      “Thank you repeating the radical Left’s line that THEY and ONLY THEY represent “the people”.”
      Well, it’s nice to be thanked every once in a while but sadly, I don’t deserve it this time. I said nothing of the kind. But interestingly, you took the words out of some left-wing mouths with your “These demonstrations by the anarchists and Far Left will end up repelling average citizens who might be willing to get involved in true efforts…..”
      .
      There is nothing to cushion Israelis when they are in deep difficulty. We don’t hear about most of the tragedies. Moshe Silman underlined that.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Hi there friends, how is the whole thing,
      and what you wish for to say on the topic of this piece of
      writing, in my view its in fact remarkable for
      me.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Mon nom est La Roux.
      Je viens de fêter mon quarante-cinqième anniversaire.
      .
      Je voudrais être comédienne . Est-ce un défaut d’être délicate ?

      Reply to Comment
    25. Click here to load previous comments

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Name (Required)
    Mail (Required)
    Website
    Free text

© 2010 - 2014 +972 Magazine
Follow Us
Credits

+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

Website empowered by RSVP

Illustrations: Eran Mendel