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“Haaretz” on the leaders of social protest on the “Russian” street


Eddy Zhensker

“We have been late for about a year”, – said Eddy Zhensker while giving me a tramp from Beer Sheva railway station, a week after the demonstration on June 2. Eddy was born in Ukraine, 29 years ago, he was brought to Israel at the age of 8. Recently he settled down in the capital as one of the leaders of the  “Our Heritage – The Charter for Democracy” Association. This organization was established with the aim to raise the involvement of Russian-speakers in the public life of Israel and their support to the peace process. In other words, the goal was stimulating changes within this community. Eddy Zhensker believes such changes are necessary.

“We must help people to be aware of the existing problems. The current situation does not change not because it is good but because people consider it as inevitable. If the Israeli public as a whole has realized this during the last year, the Russian-speaking community has not yet. Repatriants arrived here from the country in which only two life spheres existed: family and state. There was nothing between them. The moment you left your home to buy something in supermarket you found yourself in the territory of state. In Israel, on the contrary, there is also civil society”.

Zhensker and his peers define themselves as “one-and-a-half” generation of new immigrants from the FSU. They read newspapers in Russian and Hebrew, they constantly “oscillate” between political controversies with parents at home and discussions in the circles of Israeli social activists. Eddy’s Russian accent is milder than that of other persons I spoke to while working on this article, it is almost imperceptible, and yet exists. As a “hybrid”, he can participate in the struggle for change, but is treated with suspicion.

“The day after the demonstration the REKA Radio made interview with me. They presented me as a participator of the political manifestation, that means – as an enemy”, – told Eddy, “but it didn’t affect me. I was speaking about the workers being exploited by subcontractors, about general needs of the Russian-speaking sector”

The atmosphere of suspicion arises not only while contacting Russian-language media or parents. There are many in the mainstream of the protest movement who advocated in the past full unity and wiping all differences. They will have to get accustomed to the fact that the waves of protest come from various communities. “Different sectors have different problems, it is impossible to resolve all of them in the framework of a single mainstream protest.”, – Zhensker explains. “Stav [Shaffir] is not able to resolve the problems of the Ethiopians, of the Russians, of the Arabs. She is not aware of their problems. Marking with a tick representatives of each sector during the protest demonstration – it is not enough.

From the article of Yuval ben Ami “The Russian  said Yes to the Social protest”, “Haaretz” 13/07/2012

Original is available


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