Students across Israel protest against judicial reform, 4 arrested

At the same time, right-wing organization Im Tirtzu organized counterdemonstrations in support of the government's plans.

  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Four students were arrested in Jerusalem on Monday as thousands of them, at over 10 universities and colleges throughout Israel, left their classes to protest against the new government’s judicial reforms.

We strongly condemn the bullying of the Jerusalem police officers towards students who seek to exercise their right to protest and raise their voices against the coup d’état,” protest organizers stated. “It seems that the police in Jerusalem decided to violently suppress a legitimate protest. It’s hard not to wonder in whose service the police are acting considering harsh scenes and the unnecessary violence used against law-abiding students.

The shutdown and demonstrations constitute the opening shot for a long, determined and uncompromising struggle against the regime coup, which is expected to include many and varied protest actions in the coming period inside and outside the campuses,” they said.

“We the students are not ready to remain silent in the face of the revolution and the selling-out of the judicial system,” the organizers said.

“Democracy is not an empty slogan, but an essence that must be fought for. This is an uncompromising struggle for our future against a government that, in the name of the tyranny of the majority, threatens to trample democracy – and then, without restraint and without brakes, harm the equality and freedom of many groups in Israeli society,” they said. “We are determined to stop this madness – and this is only the beginning. We will protest in our masses and call loudly: no to the override of the court; no to the politicization of the judges; no to the coup d’état.”

Some institutions explicitly allowed the students to leave classes to demonstrate.

 Protesters in support of the government. (credit: IM TIRTZU) Protesters in support of the government. (credit: IM TIRTZU)

Vice-rector of Bar-Ilan University Arye Reich wrote in a letter to university staff on Sunday: “I ask you to accommodate the desire of the students to express their position publicly. If a student chooses to leave the classroom to demonstrate, this must be allowed. Please refrain from comments that may inflame the spirits.”

Support for the planned reforms

Meanwhile, the right-wing organization Im Tirtzu organized demonstrations in support of the government’s plans in at least six universities, using slogans such as “Protecting democracy! The rebellion will not help, the reform must pass” and “No to civil war, yes to the citizens’ decision.”

We will not stand by while public figures call for riots and citizens demonstrate with the flags of a terrorist organization and compare the Justice Ministry to Nazis,” head of the group’s activist wing Shai Rosengarten said. “The elections have been decided, the majority of the people support the reform of the justice system; it is time to move forward and preserve democracy in our country.”

Orit Eliyahu, coordinator of Im Tirtzu at Tel Aviv University said that “Yair Lapid is right – there is a hostile takeover of the High Court of Justice over the political discourse. We must reform the justice system!”

Walla News contributed to this report.