Leftist Protest TA 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Several hundred protesters gathered at Rothschild Boulevard on Tuesday night to
protest against a series of recently passed laws that they say muzzle freedom of
In their first plenum readings, the Knesset on Monday voted in
favor of both a libel law amendment that would raise the penalty for libel
without proof of damages, and another bill that seeks to regulate the Bar
Association’s choice of representatives to the Judicial Selection
Participants in the protest organized by Meretz, Peace Now and
various youth movements voiced their position to the legislation which they said
infringed on freedom of speech.
“The truth must be told, this is a
fascist law. This isn’t legislation against any particular opinion but all
differing opinions,” said Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz referring to the libel
new libel bill
The lawmaker lashed out against the government pointing a finger
toward Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud
“The people leading this are not the back benchers, this goes to
the top to Netanyahu,” he said, pausing for dramatic effect: “Barak is also
The audience booed at the sound of the name of the
Independence faction leader.
Omer Samani, 27, from Jerusalem, stood in
the crowd holding a red flag.
“I think in recent weeks we’ve seen an
attempt from the right to flex its muscles and anyone could understand that
these [laws] are undermining the democratic foundation,” the member of ‘Dror
Israel’ youth movement said. “We are both Zionists and democratic and the two
must not part.”
Meanwhile, a mock counter- protest demonstrated on the
other side of the street carrying signs reading “War is peace,” “Newspapers are
bad” and “Death to all.”
Earlier in the day, one of the organizers of the
protest, Peace Now general-director Yariv Oppenheimer, expressed his concern
regarding the new laws.
“This is the first demonstration and sadly,
certainly not the last. The Right has a majority in the Knesset but we’ve seen
in the summer that the Israeli street is powerful. If many come today and
to other demonstrations then we can stop this legislation. This is a
wake-up call to the public.”
Oppenheimer said he believed the
demonstration was the natural continuation of the summer’s housing protests
which topped the news agenda for months.
“Many people who took in that
demonstration supported us on Facebook,” he said. “My goal is for the two
protests to unite.”
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