AntiMcDonald’s Daze in Israel 2005
A report on the antiMcDonald's actions carried out in Israel during the International day of Protest Against McDonald's, October 16th 2005
(For more pictures & graphics, see URL at the end)
McDonald's has been met in Israel with a certain degree of resistance ever since it opened its first restaurant in Ramat-Gan (a Tel-Aviv suburb) in 1993, when a group of Anarchists chained themselves to the doors and blocked the entrance.
For some reason, antiMcDonald's sentiments here have revolved almost exclusively around the issue of animal rights, and only in the last two years or so are we seeing ecological, consumerist & health-oriented groups joining the campaigns (the workers' angle is still missing, sadly).
In the early nineties, the "What's Wrong with McDonald's?" leaflet was translated into Hebrew in a joint effort by the animal rights organization "Anonymous" (nowadays a deradicalized, mainstream, somewhat welfare-oriented organization) and an Anarchist group calling themselves simply "Anarchist Movement".
However, the International AntiMcDonald's Day has been decently observed only in the last 4 years, mainly through the initiatives of the Tel-Aviv based group "One Struggle", a Human/Animal Rights Anarchist group quite similar in character to "Greenpeace London". This group used to hold a regular, weekly vigil in front of McDonald's for over a year (quite an achievement in a place like this), and produced a better, more didactic version of the Hebrew AntiMcDonald's flyer.
In 2003 One Struggle - with the help of other groups - organized a critical mass bike ride through central Tel-Aviv, carrying signs and stopping at various McDonald's restaurants to leaflet passers-by. The bike ride, about 30 people strong, ended in a bigger demo outside a central McDonald's restaurant, with 60-70 people carrying banners, signs, setting up literature tables and serving free vegan food.
The 2004 event, although better organized and including vigils in Israel's three main cities (Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem), saw a more or less equal amount of people take to the streets, but was almost unanimously ignored by all media (generally, it is worth noting that Israel is a very political place as far as conventional Left/Right or Nationalist politics are concerned, but it has a strong tendency to downplay and brush aside more global issues, like McDonald's, which do not fit neatly into Israeli Left/Right categories).
In 2005, during the weekend of the 14th-16th of October, we organized the most successful Israeli antiMcDonald's Day yet.
In Tel-Aviv, where the main event took place, we gathered at noon in the small garden on Shenkin st. - one of Tel Aviv's central streets, packed with people on Friday afternoons - for a general antiMcDonald's "happening". It included activities for kids (creative games, street theater), free screen printing shirts with antiMcDonald's slogans, free vegan food, information stalls, a big picture gallery displaying the horrors of McDonald's connection to factory farming, pollution etc, and more. After a couple of hours we marched - around 50-60 people - to the nearby McDonald's restaurant on Shenkin st., with signs, bullhorns, drums, banners and festive costumes, and from there to a second McDonald's at Dizengoff Square. The number of passers-by who asked questions and showed interest in our message was encouraging, and only a handful of people actually entered the restaurants while we demonstrated and handed out flyers outside.
After the Sabbath, on Sunday the 16th, there were antiMcDonald's vigils in four different cities (Haifa, Jerusalem, Kfar Saba and Hertzliya, where local Green Party activists joined the AR activists). All vigils were well-attended, and coordinated by a new animal rights group called Shevi (acronym of "Animal Liberation Israel"). In the evening, there was free vegan food plus a screening of the documentary "McLibel 2005" with Hebrew subtitles at the Salon Mazal Radical Infoshop in central Tel Aviv, with a big turnout as well.
The most surprising aspect of the 2005 events, in complete contrast to previous years, was a lot of national media attention regarding these protests. The two major Israeli daily newspapers, Yediot Aharonot and Ma'ariv, both ran articles about the events and the general worldwide protests against McDonald's, in their printed as well as online editions. Ma'ariv, the second largest newspaper in Israel, with hundreds of thousands of readers, even devoted the main article of its Business section, cover and all, to the protests. There were interviews with activists on television programs - including one on channel 2, Israel's leading channel - and also on several radio stations, including Galei Tza'al's economic report (that's the IDF's radio station and the most popular one in Israel).
We do not know what caused this minor media frenzy, but we tried our hardest to take advantage of it, and are satisfied that a record number of Israelies have now heard that there is indeed something very wrong with McDonald's. The corporation, by the way, maintained a "no comment" policy to all reporters regarding our actions and our claims.
All in all, we feel these events were fruitful, positive & enjoyable, and that a crystal-clear message of resistance to the McDonaldization of the planet was conveyed.
For pictures of the various Israeli 2005 vigils, flyers, posters, press cuttings etc.:
link to photobucket.com
For a sample of Israeli mainstream media's report of the events:
(from the Yediot Aharonot site)
For more information, please contact One Struggle at:
email@example.com / www.onestruggle.org
or Shevi at:
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.free.org.il
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