In the year since 400,000 people filled Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard last summer, setting off a national protest movement, Mr. Silman, 57, had become a fixture of demonstrations in Haifa. His self-immolation stunned but also galvanized the protest movement, which had been struggling to find its footing.
Many have compared Mr. Silman to the fruit vendor in Tunisia whose self-immolation in January 2011 touched off the Arab Spring uprisings that have changed the geopolitics of the entire Middle East. Several other Israelis attempted self-immolation over the past week, and leaders of the social justice demonstrations in Haifa have been grappling with the shift in tone.
“He sacrificed himself,” his sister, Bat Zion Elul, who made the decision to take him off life support, said in an interview with Channel 2 News broadcast on Friday. “He really sacrificed himself for the sake of others, for those who are in the same position as him, who don’t have anything.”
The son of Holocaust survivors, Mr. Silman had once run his own messenger service, but the business struggled after the second intifada. A small debt from the National Insurance Institute spiraled out of control, and his applications for public housing were repeatedly rejected. He later suffered a stroke and was declared disabled. Mr. Silman never married or had children.
Friends said he was on the brink of homelessness when he arrived at the Tel Aviv protest Saturday night with gasoline and a suicide note.R Soft Web Hosting