Israeli anti-judicial reform activists rally against AJC head

The protesters, part of the anti-judicial reform movement UnXeptable, called on AJC CEO Ted Deutch to take a stand on Israeli judicial reform.

 Israelis are seen in Tel Aviv protesting against the government's proposed judicial reforms, on June 10, 2023. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Israelis are seen in Tel Aviv protesting against the government's proposed judicial reforms, on June 10, 2023.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

The anti-judicial reform movement UnXeptable held a rally targeted at Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), on Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv, urging him to take a stance on the political situation in Israel.

The demonstration took place outside and inside the ANU Museum on the Tel Aviv University campus. 

An ad promoting the demonstration asked, "WHERE IS TED??" The AJC has been hosting its second-ever Global Forum in Israel this week and none of the leaders of this movement were allowed to speak. Even though heads of the Israeli opposition spoke and will speak at the main event. "Join us to welcome Ted Deutch at Tel Aviv University and ask why he hasn’t stepped up!"

They continued: "Ted Deutch, the CEO of American Jewry’s ‘foreign ministry,’ the AJC, has been remarkably absent from the movement to safeguard democracy. It is inconceivable [that] a former Democratic congressman has taken a stand that radiates lack of understanding of the threat to Israel by the judicial overhaul.

"Instead of engaging with Israelis who have selflessly defended Israel’s democracy, his organization has given the stage at their Global Forum - happening now in Tel Aviv - to the coalition, as another opportunity to advocate for their capture of the judiciary." 

 REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL) speaks to the press on Capitol Hill. (credit: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS)
REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL) speaks to the press on Capitol Hill. (credit: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS)

The ad concluded by saying that "the Jewish people need leaders who are willing to stand up for what’s right, especially when we need them the most."

Israeli anti-judicial reform protesters urged to behave in a diplomatic manner

A message sent to the protesters, seen by The Jerusalem Post urged the participants to behave in a diplomatic manner. "Our goal is not to harass Ted, or the AJC members. It is to remind him of his obligation to support the democracy movement, and ask him where he has been. 

"This is not a protest against coalition leaders seeking to capture power - it is a small, targeted rally to call Ted and his leaders to account for their current inaction to safeguard Israel's democracy despite the AJC's stated commitment to defending democracy in the US and Israel."

That said, it wasn’t all peaceful: A video that the organizers of the rally sent via a WhatsApp group, captured an Israeli woman yelling at a security guard at the ANU Museum who wouldn’t let her in since she was wearing a shirt with the logo of the demonstration. “I want to get a cup of coffee,” she yelled, while the security guard blocked the entrance with this body. He explained that she cannot enter wearing this shirt and she then answered that “I don’t have any other clothes.” The demonstrator tried to physically enter the museum but was blocked by security, but was able to enter seconds later. 

One of the organizers wrote to the members of the group “well done,” adding that “we heard from people on the inside that it was really important that you were there and that Ted himself not only saw you, but it's causing him quite a lot of consternation even though he's not willing to change his position.” The organizer added that there was “great visibility and this is just part of the process to push them to take their natural position as defenders of democracy.”

In February, Deutch actually addressed this issue.

“At the outset of this process, AJC expressed to Israeli leaders, to the Israeli public, and to our own leadership our strong belief that any changes to Israel’s judicial system should be the result of a deliberative, inclusive process that maintains checks and balances and respects minority rights and civil liberties,” Deutch said in a statement.

“The legislation that has moved forward in the Knesset thus far, and the way in which it has been advanced, falls short both substantively and procedurally,” he added.

“We remain encouraged by President [Isaac] Herzog’s efforts to convene a dialogue and find a compromise and we hope that all parties will heed his call,” the AJC statement read.

The AJC told the Post that "AJC is in regular contact with Israelis across the political spectrum and civil society. This includes conversations prior to and during our Global Forum. AJC Global Forum participants will be exposed to a range of political views, including those of Israeli elected leaders who oppose the proposed judicial reforms. The more than 1,500 Jewish advocates who will be at Global Forum will engage in nothing short of full and frank discussions on the key issues facing Israel and the Jewish people. That’s exactly why we are in Israel.

"AJC was the first American Jewish organization to clearly lay out our expectation that any dramatic changes to institutions central to Israeli democracy would be the result of a deliberative process and would protect civil liberties and minority rights, as well as maintain checks and balances."