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Anti-Netanyahu protests spread to L.A. and other U.S. cities

Waving signs reading “Crime Minister Bibi,” “Bibi Step Down” and “You are corrupted and tired. Go home!” dozens of Israelis rallied outside the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, calling for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.

The August 9 evening gathering was held as protests in multiple American cities and around the world denounced the current government in Israel and as Netanyahu grapples with twin crises: an indictment over alleged wrongdoing and the spread of the coronavirus.

At least seven anti-government rallies were planned in different cities this weekend, including protests in San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Washington D.C. and Toronto, according to the rally’s organizers.

Protesters outside the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles Aug. 9, 2020.

Protesters outside the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles Aug. 9, 2020. Image by Ryan Torok

Passing cars on Wilshire Boulevard honked their horns to show solidarity with the rally-goers, who wore facemasks and waved Israeli flags to show their support for Israel, albeit not the current government.

Dan Lainer-Vos, a sociology professor at USC, spoke to rally-goers about how Netanyahu has sown hatred inside of Israel.

“From the moment you entered public life you constantly spread hatred against the Arabs, against those who disagreed with you on the left, on the right, against those on the left who, according to your twisted mind, forget what it is to be Jewish,” Lainer-Vos said.

Another attendee, Aimee Ginsburg Bikel, stressed that the protesters gathered out of a sense of duty to Israel.

“So the people here, in the purest way, love their country with all their heart and for that reason feel excruciating pain to see what they feel, what we all feel, is a country falling out of democracy and into a kind of dark, dangerous place,” said Ginsburg Bikel. “This looks like a protest against Israel, but it’s not a protest against Israel. It’s actually a protest for the Israel people love and want to love.”

The protesters gathered mostly under the auspices of the protest group UnXeptable, which shares a capital “X” with the name of the Israeli protest movement in Israel, Ein Matzav (“No Way”). (The Hebrew letter aleph in Ein looks like the X in UnXeptable}.

Ein Matzav was started in Israel, in part, by retired Air Force General Amir Haskel who has been arrested protesting outside the prime minister’s house.

Protesters across the United States have been using WhatsApp and Zoom calls with protestors in Israel to discuss how they can be effective allies.

According to Ginsburg Bikel, some protesters people came out on their own, not affiliated with any umbrella group.

Michal Morris Kamil, a student-rabbi at Academy of Jewish Religion California, said the current leadership’s policies and corruption amount to bribery, deceit and the breaking of trust.

Protesters linked to the Israeli group UnXeptable outside the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles

Protesters linked to the Israeli group UnXeptable outside the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles Image by Ryan Torok

“There’s a significant amount of people in Israel who are suffering, and we need to stand and show that we are part of this community and not separate. If there is leadership in Israel doing harm to our people there, we need to show our identification with them there, because it affects their lives, and our lives,” said Morris Kamil, who is from Jerusalem.

“It is all about morals and ethics. We don’t care about left or right,” Miriam Bayoumi, an Israeli native who came from San Diego for the rally, said. “We want straight,”

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