Treasure Trove:  David Matlow explains why the current Israeli protests bear the name of the country’s first finance minister

Eliezer Kaplan (1891-1952) would be surprised to learn that his name is attached to the Israeli protest movement opposing the government’s anti-democratic legislation. Kaplan was Israel’s first finance minister and served as the country’s first deputy prime minister. As a signatory of Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, Kaplan himself would probably have approved of the movement trying to preserve the Jewish homeland he envisioned.

How did Kaplan become associated with these protests 70 years after his death?  The main protests that have taken place in Tel Aviv for 40 weeks occur on Eliezer Kaplan Street, a major east-west road in Tel Aviv. If you have been to the Sarona Market or seen the Kiryah, Israel’s military headquarters, they are on this street. An organization called Kaplan Force sponsors these protests which attract hundreds of thousands of people each week.

To celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday in 2018, Issie Baum of Montreal created this specially postmarked envelope, part of a commemorative set that recognizes all 37 signatories of the Declaration of Independence. The signatories and their vision for Israel are worth remembering during this existential struggle about the kind of country the Jewish state will be.