Thousands converged on Jerusalem’s Paris Square on Saturday, January 23, to protest against far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the 31st consecutive week, two months before the country is scheduled to head to its fourth election in two years.
Protest groups accuse Netanyahu of corruption and the mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and its social and economic fallout. Smaller demonstrations were also held outside Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea, in Tel Aviv and at hundreds of main intersections and along overpasses throughout the country.
Last week, in a series of tweets, Knesset Coalition Chairman MK Miki Zohar compared the anti-Netanyahu protesters outside of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem to the white supremacist fascist and neo-Nazi American rioters who breached the halls of the US Congress on January 6. “Which is more serious and harmful to democracy,” Zohar asked, “a violent charge by US citizens on the Capitol Building in Washington, or a violent charge by Israeli citizens on the prime minister’s house in Jerusalem? Aside from the fact that Jerusalem demonstrations are conducted in accordance with police permits, and have never resulted in violence that caused the death of any person on the scene, Zohar’s analogy is egregiously faulty in the extreme.
While democracies assure their citizens the right to assemble and peacefully protest the policies and alleged failures of their government, like what has been taking place in Jerusalem and around Israel since June of last year, the armed riot in Washington DC was invited, incited and sent by the head of the US government, specifically to interfere with the constitutionally mandated workings of another branch of government, the legislature, that was in session to formally count the electoral votes for the election of the US president. Or, in other words, the American, pro-Trump supporters violently attempted to interfere with and overthrow the workings of their own democratically-elected government simply because the president refused to accept the election results.
MK Zohar, Netanyahu’s mouthpiece, also offered his support to outgoing US President Donald Trump, tweeting that “even if there is criticism of Trump’s conduct due to the election results, those who dismiss his work as president just don’t understand public service.” Zohar praised Trump’s handling of the economy and credited him for “strengthening America’s standing in the world with its fight against terrorism,” adding that “those who forget what Trump has done for Israel are just ungrateful.” We suggest to MK Zohar that he not equate the deliberate, systematic and racist, politicized fissuring of the American body politic for four years with public service, and that he not ask us to be grateful to the former US president, who led by Israel’s long-serving and corrupt prime minister, has made the achievement of a just political settlement between Israeli and Palestinians more difficult today than it has been in the past.