Israel's Protest Queen Daphni Leef Isn't Prime Minister — Yet

Leader of Tent City Works in a Beauty Parlor

One More Cup of Coffee: Tuvia Tenenbom meets with Daphni Leef in a Tel Aviv café.
isi tenenbom
One More Cup of Coffee: Tuvia Tenenbom meets with Daphni Leef in a Tel Aviv café.

By Tuvia Tenenbom

Published April 20, 2014, issue of April 25, 2014.
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“Well, let’s go back to the protests, which are long over. What is Daphni Leef doing these days?”

“I’m in a period of pondering, observing, thinking of my future steps. Meantime I make a living, I work.”

“Doing what?”

“Video editing. I’m working on my own movie, a documentary. Also, once a week I work as a reception clerk at a beauty salon.”

“Are you in touch with Itzik and Stav?”

“No.”

“They boarded your train, but they got off at a totally different stop than you did.”

“I wouldn’t phrase it like this.”

Leef, a clerk in a beauty salon instead of a parliament member, won’t say a bad word against those who reaped the fruits of the seeds that she has planted. These days, not only is Daphni not a legislator but she is also on the exact opposite side of the law: A criminal case in which Daphni is accused of rioting and using force to prevent lawful arrest during a social protest is still open. And I ask myself: How come this leader is faring so badly?

This is not the only question I have about Leef. Jaffa, part of the Tel Aviv municipality, is where many leftist Israelis reside, spending much of their time and energies criticizing Israel’s handling of the conflict with the Palestinians. I thought that she would behave in the same manner, but she doesn’t. I am sitting here with her for over an hour but she does not utter a single word about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“What’s wrong with you, Daphni?” I ask her. “How come you don’t even mention this issue?”

“What do you want me to say?”

“Whatever you think!”

“I think that religious fundamentalism in both societies is the main cause of the conflict. I’m not proud of my government’s handling of the conflict, but there is a lot of hypocrisy on both sides, and on the side of the Europeans and the Americans, who are also involved in this conflict. To say that the responsibility lies only with the Israelis is a naïveté.”

She also blames the media.

“If you go to Jaffa’s beaches, you’ll see hasidic couples dating, you’ll see women with bikinis, and you’ll see Arab families having barbecues,” she says. “Nobody bothers anybody, because all they want is one thing: the beach. But you don’t hear about them in the news, because it’s not an ‘item’ and it’s not a ‘story.’”

“When was the last time that you went to visit Palestinian cities?”

“I was never there.”


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