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'Israeli awakening' follows model of 'Arab spring'; more protests expected Saturday

John Ray, NBC News writes:

So, we've all seen and heard plenty of the Arab spring, stretching now into a bloody summer in Syria and Libya.
But maybe even more surprising is the sudden emergence of what inevitably will be called the Israeli awakening.

Nadav Neuhaus

Israeli Gilad Peled participates in a demonstration for socioeconomic change in Tel Aviv on Saturday, July 30. Peled is working two jobs and his wife just lost her job. They have a young girl and they can't pay all of their bills each month. Peled says he is fed up that politicians have forgotten who elected them to parliament and he says it's about time that they start working for the people and not the other way around.

Out of almost nowhere, a grassroots campaign has sprung up to challenge the nation's leaders.

What's more; it has nothing to do with the peace process, with Palestinians or West Bank settlements.

In fact, it's even bringing Arabs and Jews together. They share a common enemy. The soaring cost of living.

On Saturday, organizers are promising the 'mother or all demonstrations' to surpass the 150,000 strong protest that took to the streets last week.

That’s a remarkable figure in a country of just 7 million.

Nadav Neuhaus

Two weeks into Israel's housing protest, demonstrations are sweeping the country. More than 150,000 people took part in protests nationwide calling for socioeconomic change and demanding social justice.

Dairy farmers, army reservists, taxi drivers, even parents planning a "stroller protest" - all have played a part in demonstrations so far.

They have a long list of demands; action on rising rent, fuel, food and power costs. Tax breaks for the less well off; free schooling and changes to health system.

Israel is a heavily taxed nation; people are asking what they get for their money.

Part of the answer is the huge cost of security, a fact not lost on anyone.

"The sense here that we're living in a war zone, traumatized by terror  - it's like we're not allowed to talk about 'small' issues, day-to-day stuff," one of the organizers, Stav Shaffir, a 26-year-old masters student, told the Guardian newspaper.

"But security also means education, health, housing. We don't want to be controlled by fear."

With opinion polls showing 90 percent public support the protests, Israelis seem to have found something to agree on.

Nadav Neuhaus

A protester uses a laptop In Tel Aviv's weeks-old tent encampment.