VICE travels to Israel to meet young members of the growing radical left, in the lead up to the one-year anniversary of the biggest protest in Israel’s history. Last summer, while the world was busy following the Arab Spring, nearly half a million Israelis took to the streets demanding social justice and an end to the rule of the tycoons. Still, the government didn’t listen. The protest movement was nicknamed J14, short for July 14, marking the date a girl named Daphni Leef pitched the first tent in central Tel Aviv, in protest against high rents and living costs.
Fed up with threats of imminent wars with their Arab neighbors, the hostile ways of land grabbing religious nutters in silly hats, and the fact that almost two million Israelis are living in poverty, young people are choosing the path of dissent.
We follow Ronnie Barkan, an Israeli Jew who fights for Palestian rights, to a protest in the West Bank. We also meet Daphni Leef and Stav Shaffir, the most famous faces of the protest movement, who inspire people all over Israel to get involved. We visit creatives who have unique ways of dealing with the government’s fear mongering: Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir, who started the Facebook campaign Israel Loves Iran; Artist Guy Briller, who drives around with a missile on his car to ease the tension and make people laugh; and Yuda Braun, a former IDF soldier turned artist, who patrols the streets of conflict ridden areas as the White Soldier.
Finally, we get a gruesome reminder of the depths of desperation felt by many Israelis, when, during the massive one-year anniversary demo, we witness a man set fire to himself in protest against Israel’s dysfunctional welfare system.
It’s an insight into everyday life in Israel that goes beyond the hackneyed media coverage of Gaza rockets and death tolls. This film is about young Israelis starting a revolution for social justice.