(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Politicians from across the political spectrum lashed out at a group of protesters who demonstrated on Saturday night outside the synagogue of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, heckling him and saying that he is not proceeding fast enough with the investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Due to the demonstration, Mandelblit was prevented from saying the kaddish mourning prayer after the recitation of the monthly kiddush levana prayer for the new moon. He did not respond to the hecklers, and his security guard made him leave the synagogue through a back door.
Mandelblit, who usually walks home from the synagogue, was driven home by his wife, because he was concerned that the protesters would harm him. Two police cars arrived at the synagogue.
“We wanted to send him a message about his ethics,” protester Yishai Hadas told Channel 2. “The congregants shouted back at us. Two or three of them told us to ‘go to Gaza.’” The weekly protests, which have been going on for more than a year, have shifted from near Mandelblit’s home in Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv. But six protesters came to the synagogue and disturbed the kiddush levana service, which was held outside the synagogue.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) responded by writing to the demonstrators that they had clearly crossed a redline.
“I see that this is unfortunately necessary, so here is a rule for the Petah Tikva protesters: When you prevent a Jew from saying the kaddish prayer for his mother in the name of freedom of expression, it is no longer democracy but violent bullying.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) said he supported the democratic right of the protesters to demonstrate, but they should be ashamed of what they did to Mandelblit.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said what the protesters did was “barbaric and unacceptable.” He called upon the protesters to show more self-restraint and sensitivity.
Former education minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) called the demonstration “a sad new low of inhumanity.”
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said the protesters should have demonstrated outside the homes of corrupt politicians, and not targeted Mandelblit.
Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar said the right to protest has limits, and those limits were violated by the protesters in Petah Tikva.
Meretz MK Michal Rozin added that the protesters had harmed the accomplishments of more than a year’s worth of anti-corruption demonstrations.
“Even in a super-legitimate protest, there are acts that are not legitimate, and shameful,” Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli wrote on Twitter.
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai said that in other countries such protesters would have been arrested. He called on the police to investigate them.
Eldad Yaniv, who is one of the organizers of the weekly protests, said the demonstrators had no connection to his demonstrations.