Large protest expected as JFNA's General Assembly begins

The rally is organized by the Umbrella Movement, a group that plans protests around Israel, who is protesting PM Netanyahu's involvement in this year's Jewish Federation of North America GA.

 Israelis protest against the judicial reform in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Israelis protest against the judicial reform in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Protesters are expected to gather on Sunday outside of the premier of Jewish Federation of North America's annual General Assembly (GA), which this year is being held in Israel and is set to include a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu despite turmoil in the country sparked by his proposed judicial reform plan.

The rally is set to take place outside Gani HaTa'arucha St 3, Tel Aviv-Yafo on Sunday evening when Netanyahu will arrive to speak with JFNA.

Protestors will call on JFNA delegates - top leaders in Jewish communities across North America - "to make their voices heard, use their influence, and stand with Israelis in defense of their democracy in the face of Netanyahu’s regime coup. The protests will proudly entrance any JFNA delegate who chooses to stand with us on the right side of history, inside or outside the General Assembly," according to the Umbrella Movement, the group who organized the protest.

the opportunity to hear from Israel’s duly elected president and prime minister is a symbol of Israel's achievement as a modern democratic state. We look forward to welcoming these officials on this historic occasion."

JFNA chairperson Julie Platt, JFNA CEO and president Eric Fingerhut

Josh Drill, the international spokesperson for the Umbrella Movement, a group that plans protests around Israel, said: “Our goal is to make sure that the leaders of major Jewish organizations understand that Netanyahu is a master manipulator who is driving to dismantle Israeli democracy. Major Jewish leaders and organizations need to use all means at their disposal to stop Netanyahu’s judicial coup.

"He must know that moving forward not only risks vital American and American-Jewish support: but that Jews around the world are ready to do everything in their power to fight for democratic values in Israel. I hope on Sunday, we will see and hear support from the many delegates who have already publicly supported their brothers and sisters protesting in Israel.”

How has JFNA responded?

 ERIC FINGERHUT, president, Jewish Federations of North America.  (credit: JFNA) ERIC FINGERHUT, president, Jewish Federations of North America. (credit: JFNA)

On Monday, JFNA responded to the criticism towards them, from Jewish communities, regarding Netanyahu's scheduled appearance at the GA in Tel Aviv this upcoming Sunday.

"We have shared our concerns with all the parties in Israel, including in an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader. We called on the parties to negotiate and to compromise under the auspices of President Herzog."

Julie Platt, Eric Fingerhut

The criticism comes from individuals and groups that are against the judicial reforms that Netanyahu's government is promoting. In a statement by Julie Platt, chairperson and Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of JFNA, they explained that in letters that have been sent to the organization individuals "have specifically questioned the participation of Prime Minister Netanyahu and other leaders of the governing coalition due to their role in the very contentious debate about Israel’s judicial system. Some have even called for the Jewish Federations of North America to withdraw their invitation. We respectfully disagree."

"First and foremost, the opportunity to hear from Israel’s duly elected president and prime minister is a symbol of Israel's achievement as a modern democratic state. We look forward to welcoming these officials on this historic occasion," Platt and Fingerhut wrote. They added that they are "proud to welcome these important officials on this historic occasion and would do so with any individuals holding these positions."

The event will celebrate nearly 100 years of global Jewish investment in establishing and supporting the development of the State of Israel. The event is jointly sponsored by JFNA, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod and the World Zionist Organization, and will include speeches by President Isaac Herzog,  Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid is scheduled to address the GA the following day.

Regarding the debate about the judicial reform legislation, they added that "we have shared our concerns with all the parties in Israel, including in an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader. We called on the parties to negotiate and to compromise under the auspices of President Herzog."

The two shared that as they arrived in Israel for the General Assembly, "we note that the Prime Minister’s negotiating team have been meeting in good faith with the opposition under President Herzog’s guidance for several weeks.  "While we cannot foresee the outcome of the negotiations, we commend all the political leaders who are participating directly and through their representatives."

Zvika Klein and Haley Cohen contributed to this report.