Israeli police throw out protesters against judicial coup architect at U.S. Jewish confab
At least a dozen Israeli protesters were dragged out of a Jewish Federations event on Monday morning where a key architect of the government’s plan for a judicial overhaul had been invited to participate in a panel.
The scene became so chaotic that organizers of the annual convention of North American Jewish leaders requested a timeout so that participants could “calm down.”
They began disrupting the event when they first surrounded the table of Rothman and unfurled a flag with their logo on it as they confronted him while chanting that he’s the man responsible for turning Israel into a dictatorship.
The protest against Rothman was very well-orchestrated, with demonstrators planted around the hall where Rothman was speaking. Every time Rothman took the microphone, small groups planted in different corners of the room would begin heckling him.
Among the chants being hurled at Rothman by protesters in the crowd were “Fascist,” “Dictator,” “Destroyer of Israel,” and “Liar.”
Rothman was invited to a panel together with Yohanan Plessner, the president of the Israel Democracy Institute, and Alex Rif, head of non-profit that advocates for Russian-speaking Israel. At various points throughout their discussion, Plessner and Rothman launched into a shouting match. With protesters shouting in the background, the situation eventually got out of control, and organizational staff requested a timeout.
Plessner accused Rothman and the current government of trying to turn Israel into an Orthodox state, concluding that if it succeeds, “I don’t think GA will conduct its event on the 80th anniversary here.”
Rif attacked Rothman for initiatives drafted by his religious, far-right party that would dramatically limit the number of individuals from around the world eligible for aliyah and citizenship. They would especially affect individuals from the former Soviet Union, who account for most of the immigration to Israel in recent decades. Turning to Rothman, Rif pulled out a sign on the stage that read: “Let my people in.”
The protesters wore their khaki-colored “brothers-in-arms” t-shirt under white button-downs when they entered the room, trying to disguise themselves among the American delegates. Once the session began, they pulled off their white shirts.
The joint pro-democracy protest organizations lauded the disruptions, saying they will continue to cooperate “with representatives of liberal Israel-loving federations opposed to the coup,” and will ramp up the efforts as long as they are in Israel “for the next several days.”
The timing of this year’s conference intended to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.
Demonstrators had marched to the Expo Tel Aviv conference center in the north of the city from various start points, chanting slogans such as “We are the majority, we went out into the streets,” and carrying signs in English with the captions “Save our startup nation and Israel 2023 – imagine Trump without checks and balances.” Once reaching the conference center, protesters greeted American delegates with flowers, and were greeted themselves by former head of the National Council of Jewish Women Nancy Kaufman.