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Subject Thousands protest ‘reckless spending' on Israel 60th Independence Day celebrations
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Original Message Petition calling for restrained spending signed by 72,000 Israelis; Minister in charge of celebrations: Protest misguided

Roni Arison Published: 03.21.08, 01:53 / Israel News

Is the additional NIS 100 million (roughly $28 million) budget allocated by the government towards Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations justified? As it turns out, many Israeli citizens feel that the answer is an unequivocal no.

An internet petition, which began circulating online in January and was presented to government officials in February, called on the government to “stop the lavish, careless spending on Independence Day celebrations, and allocate these funds towards more worthwhile pursuits such as education, healthcare , culture and welfare.”

About 72,000 web surfers have already signed this petition, and the numbers keep growing daily. Organizers of this cyber-protest are urging web surfers to keep adding names to this already impressive petition

Dr. Ron Avni, one of the organizers of this petition noted that “there are so many problems throughout the country that need remedy, and yet the government sees it fit to allocate such a large amount of money to Independence Day celebrations. This is a strident, jarring, incomprehensible waste of available funds.”

While Sderot’s residents experience economic strain, Holocaust survivors are living below the poverty line, and so many social ills need to be addressed, noted Avni, wouldn’t this be money be better spent on remedying these serious problems in lieu of anniversary celebrations and the artists and managers involved?

'Misguided protest'
Avni does not object to the celebrations but feels the state ought to spend the same amount of money on Independence Day it does every year. “After all these are not centennial celebrations. There is no special significance to the 60th year of independence.”

Minister Ruhama Avraham, who heads the committee charged with 60th anniversary celebrations, said in response to Avni’s comments that “while activism and public action are an integral part of any democracy, Dr. Avni has taken it in a misguided direction. The numbers presented by Dr. Avni are inaccurate, and he bases his petition on half-truths instead of precise facts. The budget allocated to the celebrations is no greater than in previous years.”
Avraham further noted that “monetary concerns aside, Israel’s independence, earned in lives and blood, is not something to be taken lightly or for granted. It is not something that we should simply dismiss as frivolous.”

[link to www.ynetnews.com]
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