American Jews protest against Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in Washington
Smotrich is not expected to meet any senior administration officials during his stay in Washington
Hundreds of activists from various Israeli and Jewish American groups protested on Sunday outside of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C., where Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich addressed an Israel Bonds conference.
During the conference, Smotrich apologized again for his recent comments about “wiping out” the Palestinian town of Huwara, after a double murder in the town targeting two Israeli brothers commuting through.
“I want to say a few words about the elephant in the room,” Smotrich said. “As I have already said and written and repeat now with sincere regret, my comments about Huwara created a completely mistaken impression.”
“I stand before you now, as always, committed to the security of the State of Israel, to our shared values and to the highest moral commitment of our armed forces to protect every innocent life, Jew or Arab,” he said.
American Jews who attended the protests said they had come because they care about democracy.
Jewish Democratic Council of America CEO Halie Soifer addressed the protesters at the rally in a similar vein.
“While American Jews respect the right of Israelis to elect whomever they choose, we have the right to express support for democracy, whether here or in Israel,” she said. “We also have the right – indeed the obligation – to speak out when Israeli officials express views that are antithetical to the very foundation of U.S.-Israel relations. Israel Bonds is wrong to have provided Minister Smotrich this platform, and we are here today to make it clear that his rhetoric is an affront to our Jewish and democratic values, which Jewish Dems will continue to defend in Israel and in the United States.”
Rabbi Andy Gordon and Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen came from Baltimore, Maryland, to attend the rally.
A rabbi of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation for 11 years, Sachs-Kohen spoke to the protesters about American Jews' relationship with Israel.
“As American Jews, we have a really strong relationship with Israel and we love Israel, but it’s important for us to care about the values that Israel was founded upon: The idea of democracy, the idea that it’s a Jewish homeland for all and that we care for all Israel citizens,” Sachs-Kohen said.
“Democracy in Israel is essential to the soul of the nation,” she said. “I care about Israel, and I want to see Israel remain a democratic state for all.”
Smotrich is not expected to meet any senior administration officials during his stay in Washington.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.