‘You are hurting your employees’: Small business leader slams tycoons’ strike across Israel, threatens lawsuit

“This is a cowardly political strike that serves the minority in the nation,” says chair of group representing small business proprietors.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

After an umbrella group representing many of Israel’s largest mall and retail chains announced it would cease operations on Monday as an act of protest against judicial reform, the leader of an organization of small business proprietors fired back.

Oren Buta, chairman of the Movement of Independent Businesses, slammed the Israeli Business Forum for its dramatic statement indicating that it would shutter its shopping spaces due to the upcoming vote on the reasonability clause.

“We would like to clarify that all small and medium businesses and other businesses that are not related to you, will be open tomorrow and will support the needs of the Israeli economy,” Buta said in a statement released to Hebrew-language media.

Buta said that his group would leverage all legal options at their disposal, “including a class action lawsuit that we will probably win,” to ensure that independent and small retailers receive compensation for their losses.

“You are hurting your employees, you are hurting your shareholders, you are hurting the self-employed who rent commercial space from you, and you are hurting the public,” Buta continued.

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He challenged a statement by the group that by advancing judicial reform, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading Israel to “disaster,” stating that it was the tycoons themselves taking the country to the point of no return.

“The disaster is your behavior and your duty to act wisely with your investors’ money. When your shares fall, the public is the one who will lose,” Buta said.

“There is still a way back, but the right-wing public will not forget the aforementioned 150 companies. This is a cowardly political strike that serves the minority in the nation. I call on every business owner who rents commercial space from those who will strike tomorrow to contact us and, together with the right-wing members of the Knesset, we will deal with the issue.”

Earlier in July, a similar threat from the Big Mall group sparked widespread outrage among right-wing lawmakers and voters, after the industry titan said it would forcibly shutter its shopping centers due to its opposition to judicial reform.

After intense public outcry, the group backed down and said its tenants would be allowed to operate their businesses as normal, should they wish to do so.