Netanyahu Arrives in New York: Anti-Overhaul Activists Launch Week of Protests

An anti-overhaul protest in New York City, July 27, 2023. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
An anti-overhaul protest in New York City, July 27, 2023. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Anti-Overhaul Activists Launch Week of Protests as Netanyahu Arrives in New York

New York, USA — Demonstrators vehemently opposed to the government’s judicial overhaul converged outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hotel in New York, marking the commencement of a series of planned protests across the city. This development coincides with the premier’s scheduled meetings with US President Joe Biden and various other world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, touched down in New York early Tuesday, where they were warmly welcomed by Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog and Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan.

Expat activists and members of the Jewish community in New York wasted no time and held an initial demonstration before sunrise, congregating outside Netanyahu’s hotel in the illustrious Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Another protest is slated for later in the morning at the hotel, just as Netanyahu prepares to depart for the UN. This will be followed by a larger rally in the bustling Times Square at noon.

As evening descends, a fourth demonstration is set to unfold at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, coinciding with the prime minister’s attendance at a notable cultural event.

Protest gatherings are also mapped out across the city for the week, culminating on Saturday, encompassing pivotal moments such as Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Biden and his address at the UN. Organizers are tantalizingly keeping additional activist events under wraps, promising “unexpected surprises throughout the city.”

These expat demonstrators collaborate with the protest movement in Israel, aiming to echo the sustained mass rallies that have gripped the nation since the coalition unveiled its contentious judicial overhaul package earlier this year.

The focal protest events in New York are orchestrated by the expat activist collective UnXeptable, known for staging rallies and other engagements in numerous cities across the US and beyond. A grassroots funding campaign for the week’s protests has garnered an impressive $30,000.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted by Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog (C) and Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan (R) in New York on September 19, 2023 (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted by Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog (C) and Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan (R) in New York on September 19, 2023 (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Over the preceding Sunday and Monday, leaders from prominent Israel-based protest groups, present in New York to bolster the anti-Netanyahu demonstrations, delivered compelling addresses in the city.

Both the Israeli Anti-Occupation Bloc and the dovish US rabbinic human rights group T’ruah are gearing up for demonstrations outside the UN headquarters and Netanyahu’s hotel.

This visit signifies Benjamin Netanyahu’s inaugural trip to the US since his hardline coalition assumed power late last year. He is accompanied by a delegation including Economy Minister Nir Barkat, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman, and his wife Sara.

In a prelude to his arrival in New York, Netanyahu convened with Elon Musk in California. Throughout his visit, Israeli expats and local Jews demonstrated their dissent against Netanyahu, with scores of protesters awaiting his convoy upon departure from San Jose’s airport.

In a familiar fashion, New York protesters have made it a custom to shadow coalition lawmakers during their visits to the city, their coordination facilitated by a network of messaging groups.

Israeli activists are actively engaging with local synagogues and employing online platforms to involve more non-Israeli US Jews in the protest endeavours. Negotiating within US Jewish organizations, they endeavour to support Israel without unequivocally endorsing its government, all while safeguarding the country’s reputation and mitigating potential antisemitic sentiment.

Some US Jewish figures, even in leadership roles, have publicly voiced their opposition to the Benjamin Netanyahu administration, aligning themselves with the protests soon after the coalition’s ascent to power.

In an unusual departure from the convention, American rabbis have taken a stand against the Israeli government, and Jewish institutions have thrown their weight behind activist initiatives.

A survey conducted in June by the Jewish Electorate Institute revealed that a majority of US Jews were well-informed about the judicial overhaul, with 61% expressing concerns over its potential impact on Israel’s democracy. However, the majority of Orthodox Jews believed it would fortify democratic principles.

 


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