Facing Empty Seats and Massive Protests, Netanyahu Addressed General Assembly

Thousands of protesters opposed the Israeli far-right government rallied Friday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York City, as he delivered a speech in front of an empty hall at the UN headquarters. Protesters also held a series of events in California as the prime minister visited for a meeting with Elon Musk earlier in the week.

Anti-Occupation Block activists rallied Friday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York City (Photo If Not Now)

Netanyahu is under fire on social media for holding up a map at the General Assembly that placed occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza within the boundaries of Israel. “No greater insult to every foundational principle of the UN than seeing Netanyahu display a map of Israel that straddles the entire land from the river to the sea,” the Palestinian Authority’s representative to Germany Laith Arafeh posted on X, formerly Twitter. With this map Netanyahu negates “Palestine and its people while attempting to spin the audience with rhetoric about ‘peace’ in the region, all the while entrenching the longest ongoing belligerent occupation in today’s world,” Arafeh said. Americans for Peace Now CEO Hadar Susskind posted on X that “Netanyahu is returning to his government of fascists, felons, and fundamentalists, which in both action and words contradicts his bogus rhetoric of peace.” “His map of Greater Israel is perhaps the only honest part of his speech today,” Susskind wrote.

The New York demonstration culminated a week of protest activities against Netanyahu while visiting the US for the annual UN gathering, and appeared to be the largest demonstration against the far-right government held outside Israel. The Israeli-led crowd included many non-Israeli US Jews and filled a plaza across from the UN. They carried signs that said “democracy or rebellion,” “protect Israel’s democracy,” “no democracy under apartheid,” “democracy for all” and “history has its eyes on you.” Representatives of Israeli activist groups were in attendance including the Anti-Occupation Bloc, academics and high-tech workers. US groups included the rabbinic rights group T’ruah, which led a prayer ahead of the protest.

“This democratic crisis is both one of the scariest and one of the most hopeful moments in Israel’s history,” said T’ruah director Rabbi Jill Jacobs. “Terrifying because of the real risk of dictatorship and fascism, and also hopeful because the uprising among both Israelis and among Jews in the US and around the world has been the most extraordinarily hopeful thing that I’ve seen in my political life,” she said.

Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=31212