several men and woman stand with the golden gate bridge in the background. one of them holds a sign that says "UNEXEPTABLE — an indicted prime minister is unacceptable"
Boaz Ram (center) and fellow Israeli protesters at the July 31 anti-Netanyahu action at Crissy Field. (Photo/Courtesy Rachel Batish)

100 Israeli expats protest Netanyahu near Golden Gate Bridge

With the Golden Gate Bridge as their backdrop, an estimated 100 Israeli expats living in the Bay Area gathered Friday night to protest the Israeli prime minister, waving large Israeli flags and carrying signs with slogans such as “Crime Minister” and “Bibi you’re not our king.”

The demonstration was organized by UnXeptable, a grassroots group formed last month by Rachel Batish and a circle of her Israeli friends. Batish, the Sunnyvale-based vice president of product strategy for the Israeli tech company Audioburst, said the group’s goal is to shine a light on what the members perceive as anti-democratic actions by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The location of the protest at Crissy Field, where the iconic bridge dominates the scenic vista, was no coincidence. Batish said that UnXeptable activists wanted to express solidarity with thousands of Netanyahu protesters back home who have gathered on bridges across Israel.

The Bay Area protesters earlier met virtually with activists and journalists in Israel to get motivated for their action, and they set up a Facebook page that urges Netanyahu to resign.

“He’s no longer the protector of Israel,” Batish told J. “He’s destroying every institution that Israel has built for the past 70 years.”

Batish mentioned Netanyahu’s January indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The prime minister has rejected the charges, casting them as a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

In New York, a protest consisting of a “few dozen Israelis” took place Sunday in Washington Square Park, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, which also reported that demonstrations are also on tap for Los Angeles, Seattle and other cities in the U.S. and around the world, naming Berlin, London and Melbourne.

The anti-Netanyahu rallies in the diaspora are coming as protests in Israel continue to grow as part of the so-called Black Flag movement. An estimated 10,000 people protested outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem on Saturday night, and thousands of others rallied across the country at main intersections and on bridges spanning highways and roadways. Others protested in front of Netanyahu’s private home in Caesarea.

The demonstrators are calling for the resignation of Netanyahu, who “is being tried for alleged corruption and has been accused by critics of subverting democracy by attacking the justice system, law enforcement and the media,” according to Haaretz.

A dozen people were arrested at the Jerusalem protests, and clashes occurred when police physically removed the protesters who remained after midnight. The next day, Netanyahu criticized the protests, calling them “an attempt to trample democracy,” while Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister (and the cabinet minister designated to replace the prime minister in Israel’s rotation government), defended the right to protest while calling on demonstrators to avoid violence.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler is a staff writer at J. You can reach him at gabriel@jweekly.com and follow him on Twitter @ggreschler.

Marcy Oster
Marcy Oster

Israel-based JTA correspondent