Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States has so far been accompanied by constant protests along the way, both by local Jews and Israeli expats, as well as Israeli protesters, some of whom are following Netanyahu to America.
As the prime minister landed at San Jose International Airport in California, over 100 protesters awaited his convoy, waving Israeli flags, blowing horns and waving signs reading, “Save our Start-Up Nation” and “Netanyahu tears Israel apart.”
Dozens of protesters also awaited Netanyahu outside of his San Jose hotel.
Roi Neuman, one of the leaders of the Kaplan Force protest movement, told Israel's Maariv news outlet that the protest movement succeeded, for the first time, in recruiting large numbers of American Jews to join the protests.
“This is the first time that there is a very large effort by the Jewish community that stopped sitting on the fence, they understand that they must fight with us for Israeli democracy,” Neuman said.
Netanyahu began his trip with a meeting and discussion with billionaire Elon Musk at his Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. Outside of the factory, more protesters greeted Netanyahu with signs and flags.
During the discussion with Musk, Netanyahu joked that most of the protesters outside didn’t really know what the judicial reform was about.
The prime minister was criticized on Monday for claiming that the protesters “joined” with the PLO and Iran, shortly before boarding the plane to the U.S.
David Ginsborg, executive director of Temple Beth El near San Jose, strongly condemned these statements.
“It’s outrageous, it’s simply outrageous,” he told The Times of Israel. “The man has no basis for saying this. We are supposed to be the light unto the nations, and instead, we’re becoming like the rest of the Middle East.”
Ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival in California, activists from the protest group UnXeptable projected the messages, “Welcome to Alcatraz Bibi” and “Netanyahu is a dictator on the run” onto the side of the infamous jail in San Francisco Bay on Sunday evening.
Israeli protesters in the Bay Area project message onto Alcatraz ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival for a meeting with Elon Musk pic.twitter.com/UTgT63DWxc— Luke Tress (@luketress) September 18, 2023
Protest leaders are reportedly planning rallies around New York City throughout the week, including at the United Nations, the Israeli Consulate, in Times Square and outside of Netanyahu’s hotel.
The demonstration organizers also allegedly promised “surprises throughout the city.”
Outside of Netanyahu’s New York hotel, a rotating group of demonstrators will stage a protest vigil for some 80 hours in total, according to New York organizer Shany Granot-Lubaton.
זה לא להאמין כמה זה פסיכי. יושבים החבר׳ה האלה מאחים לנשק בתקשורת הזרה, טוענים שישראל מפציצה בתים בידיעה שילדים עלולים להיהרג ומפקפקים בערכים המוסריים שמניעים את מקבלי ההחלטות בישראל. אח״כ הם יצעקו בושה. בושה עליכם ועל כל מי שלוקח חלק בדבר הזה. pic.twitter.com/wJUX28qEqA— Or Elly (@OreJedi) September 18, 2023
Meanwhile, another protest group caused outrage after one of its leaders appeared to suggest that Israel knowingly bombs houses while children could still be inside.
CBS on Sunday aired a report about the anti-judicial reform protest movement in Israel including, interviews with leaders of the Brothers in Arms group, which is mainly composed of military reservists of the Israel Defense Forces.
Shira Etting, an IDF reserve helicopter pilot and one of the leaders, told CBS that Israeli pilots must have full confidence in the moral values of politicians in order to “be able to fly and shoot bombs… into houses knowing that they might be killing children.”
She later told Israel's Channel 12 news that she didn’t know the interview would be aired during Netanyahu’s U.S. trip but added that the group had prepared many acts of protests under the radar and would exert maximum pressure on the prime minister.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.