The anti-government protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night for the 17th week in a row reached a new level of brazenness with the video screening of the socialist Spanish prime minister pleading their case on video.
Today broadcasted in all streets of Israel. The president of the Socialist International had the first speech of today.
More than 200 000 people on the streets. We as Socialist International, stand in solidarity with the people of Israel.
Dear friends, you will always find us… pic.twitter.com/N35NAFnnYO
— Socialist International (@Soc_Intl) April 29, 2023
“Dear Israeli friends, we as Socialist International have always fought for freedom, equality, justice and democracy. Yet, as many of you already know, these are values that we cannot take for granted, and that we have to promote and defend on a daily basis.
“As such, now as always, the Socialist International stands in solidarity with the people of Israel. Dear friends, you will always find us in the fight for democracy,” Pedro Sanchez stated.
“For the opponents of the reform, there are no red lines, including the attempt to harm [Israel’s] international status. No foreign entity will decide for the public in Israel, and I am sure that Sanchez has no such intention,” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen tweeted in response. “As someone who supports the reform, I have no doubt that it will strengthen democracy and balance the authorities.”
Ahead of the protest, the organizers claimed that the pro-reform demonstration in Jerusalem Thursday evening, which brought an estimated 600,000 Israelis, included “serious incitement.”
“The serious incitement in [Thursday] night’s demonstration, which included shocking scenes of images of Supreme Court judges being trampled on, reminds us of the demonstrations of the Ayatollah regime in Iran. That’s where the Israeli government is dragging us. We have to stop it,” the statement read.
“In the State of Israel, which has magnificent and strong judicial institutions, a justice minister can’t incite against judges. You can criticize, but not incite,” National Unity party chairm Benny Gantz said.
Smaller protests were held in other cities across the country.
National Unity party MK Gideon Sa’ar, who spoke in Herzliya, said Levin delivered a “speech of incitement and lies that defamed the system he heads.”
Yisrael Beyteinu party leader Avigdor Liberman, speaking in Beersheba, said, “”On Thursday we saw representatives from the coalition continuing to incite and divide the people.”
Those claiming incitement at Thursday’s demonstration based the claim largely on Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s comments at the event. “The time has come for a High Court that does not give rights to the families of terrorists and does not permit fake memorial services together with terror supporters…a court that protects IDF soldiers and not the terrorists’ neighbors,” Levin stated.
Another reason for the claim of incitement was a scene of protesters at the pro-reform event walking over a large poster with the faces of Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut and other top legal officials alongside slogans against them. The poster was retrieved by protesters, making it unclear as to whether it had been dropped on the ground intentionally.
Considering the threats against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government officials by left-wing protesters, along with calls for violence, these claims of incitement may seem hypocritical.
In fact, the Jerusalem demonstration was completely non-violent, and unlike the Tel Aviv protests, no one was blocking traffic illegally. The main chants were: “The nation demands judicial reform”; “64 mandates,” referring to the November election victory; and “Don’t be afraid,” directed at the government.
The atmosphere was also somewhat festive, apparently due to the widespread feeling of satisfaction over finally getting their message out after months of mass protests against the elected government.
On Saturday night, police detained five demonstrators in Tel Aviv for blocking traffic.