Judicial Reform Protest Split Over Bnei Brak Demonstration

Israelis block the entrance to the Ashdod port during a protest against the planned judicial overhaul on March 23, 2023. (Flash90)

Protesters launched on Thursday a day-long disruptive campaign designed to paralyze the country over the proposed Judiciary Reform.

This morning, a group of anti-government protesters gathered outside Rabbi Arye Deri’s home in Jerusalem, flying Israeli flags and chanting slogans against both him and the legal reform.

Not too far away, Dozens of chareidi youths congregated to express their support for the Shas leader by singing and dancing, with several police officers acting as a buffer between the two groups.

Demonstrators announced they would rally in the city of Bnei Brak at 19:00 today. Ahead of the planned protest march, Mayor Avraham Rubinstein said that he is “afraid of bloodshed,” should this protest take place.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on the chareidi residents of the city “not to be drawn into provocations.”

The protestors will gather at the Ayalon Mall in Ramat Gan and move to Bnei Brak.

“I would give up on this ‘celebration’,” said Mayor Rubinstein. “I would expect the police not to allow this demonstration to take place. If 4,000 residents of Bnei Brak wanted to hold a demonstration on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv or in Ramat Aviv III, would the police allow it? They would not approve such a demonstration without a license. Bnei Brak is an area of friction, the opinion of the residents Bnei Brak is known to all residents of the State of Israel. So why allow them to demonstrate in a place of such friction, which can also be a place of trouble? Why do you allow this friction? There was also friction in the demonstration outside MK Gafni’s house.”

President Yitzhak Herzog called on the public: “The president and his team have been talking in the last few days, and more specifically in the last day, with various parties, regarding the expected demonstration in the city of Bnei Brak, with the aim of preventing violence and lowering the flames as much as possible,” the statement released from the president’s residence read. “Among the parties with whom the president and his staff were in contact were the mayor, enforcement officials, elected officials, parties in the protest, community leaders and public opinion leaders.”

However, the decision to hold a protest in Bnei Brak, has apparently split the protest movement, with one prominent organization within it, the “Standing Together” group, distancing itself from the march and planning an alternative protest in Tel Aviv.

The Standing Together group issued a statement saying: “Our struggle is against the policies of the government, not against any community. The protests against the chareidi residents of Bnei Brak are illegitimate and mistaken, as they pit people against each other instead of the people against the regime. All of us – religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, those in the center of the country and those in the periphery – all of us have the same interest as this government is harming us all. We will make a stand in the streets against this out-of-touch and tone-deaf government and declare: This country belongs to us all.”

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