Tens of Thousands Protest in Tel Aviv Against Netanyahu’s Far-right Gov’t

In a first major rally against the new Netanyahu government, tens of thousands of people turned out Saturday night to protest in Tel Aviv against the far-right government, after Justice Minister Yariv Levin unveiled plans to overhaul Israel’s judicial system earlier this week.

The protesters gathered for the rally at the coastal city’s Habima Square and most of the demonstrators, affiliated with Standing Together, Hadash, Peace Now, Combatants for Peace and others human rights groups marched toward the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and held a rally there. Others held a torchlight march through the streets of the city.

Israeli lawmakers Naama Lazimi (Labor, first from left) Ayman Odeh (Hadash, center left), former MK Mossi Raz (Meretz, second from right), and Ofer Cassif, (Hadash, right), march behind a banner in Hebrew and Arabic reading “This is our home” in Tel Aviv, to protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Organizers advertised the protest to all those who were “against the coup d’état carried out by the criminal government which threatens to harm all citizens whoever they are. This is the home of us all. The government, immediately upon taking office, has declared war on the society. War on the public, on the people who live here, on entire communities they stigmatize as enemies. The new government wants to rule without restraints and without borders. The new government wants the settlers to take over Israel, to make it all one occupied territory, mired in endless violence. They try to separate and divide, to take the offensive against the disadvantaged and the minorities. We will not let them get away with this”.

Also they say, “It’s time to say it loud and clear – this is the home of all of us, Jews and Arabs, women and men, LGBT and straight, ultra-Orthodox, religious and secular, residents of the periphery and the center. It’s time to wage an all-out struggle for democracy, equality, social justice and peace. To struggle for home, for the home of all of us. It’s time to hit the streets.”

A number of MKs attended the rally, among them Aymen Odeh, chair of the Hadash-Ta’al alliance, Ofer Cassif (Hadash), Merav Michaeli, Naama Lazimi and Gilad Kariv from the Labor party, alongside former minister Tzipi Livni and former lawmakers Dov Khenin (Hadash) and Mossi Ras (Meretz). They lead the demonstration moving towards the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

“With this historic crisis there is also a huge and historic opportunity,” said Hadash lawmaker Odeh at the demonstration. “Look how much power there is here. This is only the nucleus; this is only the beginning.” “The fascists’ only chance is to separate us and we won’t let them,” he continued, as protesters chanted “Bibi doesn’t want democracy” and “[Arye] Dery doesn’t want democracy!” Odeh was physically attacked after finishing his speech in by one of the demonstrators who was present.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s Noa Sattath said in her speech at the demonstration, “Like our fellow human rights organizations around the world, from Hungary to the United States, we too will fight all the time, without fear, because human rights are universal.” “They are not a privilege that the government grants to some of us. Human rights are the foundation that cannot be taken from us and without democracy there are no human rights. The government will confront us – in court, in the Knesset, and in any other arena,” she said.

“This evening, friends, we have built a new democratic camp. One that includes Jews and Arabs, men and women, straight people and LGBTQ people, secular and religious — united against one evil government and for the sake of a better future in this place,” Yael Lotan and Avner Gvaryahu, the heads of Breaking the Silence, told protesters on Saturday night.

After the demonstration the anti-Netanyahu Black Flag movement said that “The coup d’état will encounter a nation of Israel determined to guard our democracy – and [the reforms] will fail.” The movement accused Netanyahu of pushing the reforms to escape potential repercussions of his ongoing corruption trial and alleged that he was destroying democratic institutions by harming the justice system and campaigning against High Court Justices.

“It’s possible to stop the revolution in the streets, by shutting down the economy and paralyzing the State of Israel by all legal means,” said the Black Flags.” Today we are starting the most important journey: A preventative strike against dictatorship.”

Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=30759