National Union of Israeli Students chairperson Ram Shefa, a leader of the "Yellow Vest" protest, has addreessed the 2018 Globes Business Conference. He commented on the announcement by Osem-Nestle postponing the planned price hikes for the company's products.
"After we called for a boycott of the company, Osem-Nestle announced within 72 hours that it was suspending the price hike," Shefa said. "They asked for a meeting with us and we refused, so they went to the minister of finance."
"Osem is only the beginning," Shefa added. "I call on you to boycott all Tnuva products, because it decided this week to raise its prices on products with no price controls.
"They will try to pigeonhole this protest as a political protest. We won't be pigeonholed. I call on the public not to be fooled by pigeonholing. The cost of living transcends political parties. The public has the task of challenging the government. We shouldn't remain silent and clap."
"Tnuva is the next objective"
Shefa commented, "I came here from the headquarters of the yellow vest campaign against the cost of living in Israel. I assume that you've seen that we began with clear actions. There is a clear demand that has come from the grassroots. It started with David Mizrahi. I see yellow vests here. It came from people who care about the cost of living in Israel. We're continuing, and there's a demonstration on Saturday night. I invite you to tell your family to come to the government compound in Tel Aviv and demonstrate in front of the Azrieli building.
"We declared that we are boycotting all Osem-Nestle products. It took 72 hours, and the minister of finance and Osem-Nestle announced today that they were freezing the price hike. The public deserves applause for this. Look how much power the public has - in just three days. It's huge victory for us, but it's the first. We certainly don't plan to stop. They won't fool us with price freezes. That's clear to you, I hope. This is only the beginning. I appeal to Tnuva and all of the big companies - apply to the government and simply lower prices. We're not the address.
"Beyond that, I want to take this opportunity to announce our next step. We started with Osem-Nestle, we're satisfied, but this isn't the end. I call on everyone at home to boycott all Tnuva products, starting now. You'll hear about this soon; Tnuva also decided this very week to raise the prices of its products that are not under price controls, because it failed to convince the High Court of Justice not to raise the controlled prices. Tnuva is the next target, and there will be more after it. We'll continue forward, and we know how to work."
"Don't pigeonhole the protest"
"I want to say a few words about the attempts to pigeonhole the protest," Shefa added. "Take down those "The government is corrupt" and "Netanyahu is corrupt" signs. We won't be pigeonholed. I appeal to the media: don't fall for the constant attempts at pigeonholing. The cost of living affects the north, the south, children, and old people. It transcends political parties.
"In a democracy, there are clear rules. In a democracy, it's the government's job to work with the public. There is a role for working and constantly challenging the government and protesting and saying that we won't accept any situation, and we're not doing enough. We have to applaud the public and understand that our role is to protest, not to keep silent because they're pigeonholing us. Even if there is a small group of people in the coming weeks trying to take us in all sorts of directions, we won't fall for it."
"The gas plan is a failure"
"A few more words about the cost of living: there's something that's unpleasant to hear - that the gas plan is one of the dramatic reasons for the rise in the cost of living," Shefa said. "In 2015, when we protested, they told us fairy tales, that we didn't understand economics. That's not true. Three years have passed, and it's obvious that the public was right, and the gas plan is a failure that is being rolled over onto us. Every old person who has to pay more for electricity - they're putting more money into Tshuva's pocket. That's exactly what's happening now.
"This has to be stopped. We're very determined. We won't stop against the efforts by the minister of finance and the companies to fool us with small statements. We came to deal with the root of the problem and any price increases in the economy, in electricity, water, and food, and we don't intend to stop.
"In this context, I call on the government - take responsibility. There's no magical solution. There's a method here for closing down the cartels and the monopolies. It's hard to listen to this. Don't be skeptical and don't be indifferent. The easiest thing is to say, 'I won't change anything,' and how does that have any influence? But everyone who comes will affect our ability to really deal with the cost of living in Israel. I want to see you on Saturday night, and good luck to you all."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 20, 2018
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