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Liberal U.S. groups back Israel protesters

WASHINGTON (JTA) — At least three liberal U.S. Jewish groups have expressed support for burgeoning social justice protests in Israel.

The protests, bringing together housing shortage protesters, strikers in various professions and those seeking food subsidies, as well as myriad other groups, saw 150,000 people demonstrating across the country Saturday night.

The New Israel Fund is helping to fund tent camp protests in major cities.

"What began as a local protest has grown as the Israeli public has stood for its rights and demanded a more equitable division of resources from the government," said Rachel Liel, the group’s Israel director.

Ameinu, a progressive Zionist group, wrote an open letter to the protest groups.

"The nationwide protests in which you are engaging are an inspiration to those of us who strive for social justice and freedom of economic opportunity in the United States and around the world," the letter said.

In a front-page blog post on its website, Americans for Peace Now linked the housing protests to government subsidies for West Bank settlements.

"Ultimately, these protests are about priorities," it said. "They are about a government that favors the wealthiest over the neediest.  A government that favors the interests of powerful and entrenched groups over the general population. A government that prefers to invest huge sums of money in maintaining and expanding settlements — and granting special benefits to settlers — while short-changing Israelis who live inside the Green Line."

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