First Hand Update on Historic Israeli Protest Movement and the Days Ahead


By Kenneth Bob, President, Ameinu

Dear Friends,

I have just returned from Israel where I have been for more than a month. I am sure many of you are closely following the events as they unfold in Israel. It is not an exaggeration to refer to them as historic; Israeli TV commentators, including former ministers, heads of the military and security branches as well as academics suggest what has happened in the last 12 weeks is the most significant development to take place in Israel since the Yom Kippur War. Several nights ago, a former head of military intelligence went even further, saying it is the biggest challenge to Israel’s future since the 1948 War of Independence. Think about that – the only events that compare to the past three months are wars of survival.

Due to the timing of a January board meeting in Israel, I had the opportunity to participate in the first mass rally to protest this government’s attempt of a judicial coup. Standing in the pouring rain with 80,000 other protesters in Habima Square, we had a sense something special was taking place. When I returned in February, due to the size of the crowds, the Tel Aviv demonstrations had been moved to Kaplan Street as protests spread to over 150 locations with hundreds of thousands of weekly participants all over Israel. While the proposed legislation is terrifying, the demonstrations have been inspiring. Regularly being in the crowds allowed me to experience the energy, commitment and, yes, the sense of humor in the homemade signs, firsthand. The wide range of protesters and speakers actually provided me with hope for possible progress in Israel on issues important to all of us.

Kaplan St., Tel Aviv, photo taken by Kenneth Bob

Ameinu has been active in the U.S. together with our Progressive Israel Network colleagues and friends in UnXeptable in organizing demonstrations in support of the Israel protesters. In addition, we helped lead an international campaign which gathered over 50 progressive Jewish organizations under the J-Link banner to issue an open letter to Israel’s President Isaac Herzog to safeguard Israel’s democracy which many of you signed.  I am very proud of our efforts and despite Bibi’s temporary retreat earlier this week, I have no doubt that we will need to continue this activism.

Being in Israel both allowed me to follow events in real time, meet protest leaders and speak with many political activists. There is a sense, at least among optimists like me, that the awakening of the majority of Israeli citizens to the threats to democracy will make them more aware of the directly related issues of human rights within Israel and the occupation.

Ameinu’s board members Kobi Cohen and Brad Rothschild at a New York protest

This is all very relevant to our work here in the United States and strengthens my belief in the critical role Ameinu plays in linking American Jews to our allies in Israel. Due to the heightened awareness of the right-wing governmental threats to Israel’s democracy and the historic, massive civic response, Ameinu has an opportunity to deepen the relationship between the broader Jewish community and the progressive forces working towards an Israel that lives up to the ideals of its Declaration of Independence.

Please join us in this work. We will continue to share information about solidarity demonstrations and related efforts in the United States, as well as update you with news from Israel. Do not hesitate to let us know how we can support your efforts in your local community.

I will end with warm personal wishes for a meaningful and enjoyable Passover holiday. And a suggestion for your seder; when you tell the story of the Israelites’ flight to freedom, add some commentary about the modern-day Israelis’ fight for freedom. Perhaps a round of popular chants from the rallies like “busha/shame” and “democratia o’mered/democracy or revolt” will liven things up around the seder table.

Chag sameach,

Kenneth Bob

President, Ameinu

Rally in Jerusalem

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