Home » Thousands hit Israel’s streets to protest “scary” new government under Benjamin Netanyahu

Thousands hit Israel’s streets to protest “scary” new government under Benjamin Netanyahu

by Mahmmod Shar


Tel Aviv — About 100,000 Israelis took to the streets on Saturday for the third week of demonstrations against the country’s new far-right, ultra-religious government.

Benjamin Netanyahu has forged a coalition with extreme political parties in order to win his sixth term as prime minister of Israel. These parties are in favor of more draconian anti-Palestinian legislation, such as the outlawing of the Palestinian flag in public places and the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are against international law. Others in the coalition are in favor of changing Israeli law to protect the rights of women, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups.

Last weekend, thousands of people participated in the protest in Tel Aviv, including 15-year-old Sarah and her friend Noam. She told CBS News that if some of the changes advocated by the hardline coalition members were implemented, they might consider relocating.

Sarah told CBS News, “We care about our generation’s future and our rights, including those of women, Palestinians, homosexuals, and everyone else.” “We consider how we might express ourselves here as dancers. I have no idea how it might change in a few years. For instance, if women can sing or other such things. You have no idea where it might go. I therefore frequently consider leaving this place and taking my family and my memories with me. It’s very frightful.”

Netanyahu’s government has also proposed reforms to the country’s supreme court that could undermine the independence of the nation’s judiciary, allowing politicians to potentially overrule court decisions. That, critics say, is a direct threat to Israel’s democratic system of checks and balances and could benefit Netanyahu himself as he faces an ongoing trial over alleged corruption.

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Moshe Chertnov, who joined the protests, moved to Israel from Los Angeles in the 1970s to build a new life on a socialist kibbutz. He said he was devastated about the hardline direction the country was going.

“I’m concerned with letting them get away with things that should normally take a two-thirds majority in any other country and not a slim majority, as they have. No one’s denying the fact that they won, and democratically… We’re not election deniers. But we have to put a stop to this in every single way,” Chertnov told CBS News. “This is so far from anything I would ever, ever imagine that happen. It’s hard to see this.”

Boaz Bismuth, a member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, from Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, insisted that the prime minister would fight any members of his coalition who seek to restrict rights for Israeli citizens.

“Don’t forget, we are the main party. We are the leading party and we are liberals, and we will not agree to anything, anything that will allow this inequality in our country,” he told CBS News.

However, Bismuth declared that he was categorically opposed to the two-state solution, which has long been the basis for peace negotiations and calls for Israel and a future state of Palestine to coexist peacefully as independent neighbors. That alone, in the eyes of many detractors, contradicts Bismuth’s pledge to end “inequality” in the nation, where Palestinians and other minorities already experience prejudice.

The Palestinian Authority will lose millions of dollars in funding from Israel, according to the new government, and it has promised to take action against organizations engaged in “hostile activity” in the occupied West Bank, including those that pursue “political and legal action against Israel under the guise of humanitarian work,” according to the Associated Press. Advocates worry that anyone working for Palestinians’ human rights in the occupied territories could come under attack.

Under Israel’s new national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a radical ultranationalist previously convicted of inciting racism and aiding a terrorist group, control over the police has already been solidified. He has been caught on camera inciting violence against Palestinians and has previously been heard chanting “death to Arabs.”

According to Mounir Marjieh, international advocacy coordinator at the Community Action Center, which works to give Palestinians in East Jerusalem more power, “I think there is enough reason to feel constant fear after the appointment of that Israeli politician,” she told CBS News. “He promised to change open-fire laws against civilians and to set the policy for police, prosecution, and the beginning of interrogations. I believe that this will have a negative impact on human rights.”

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