Americans living in Israel may have slightly favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in November’s 2016 US presidential election, according to at least one poll. But that leaves a large contingent of American-Israelis whose reaction to Trump’s victory ranged from disappointment to devastation.
Hundreds of unhappy American-Israelis are expected to attend a rally in front of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, January 21, in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, a massive protest scheduled to take place that morning in Washington, DC, whose stated mission is “to send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”
The local event, dubbed the Tel Aviv Sister Rally to the Women’s March on Washington, is being organized by Pantsuit Nation Israel, a Facebook group with over 1,200 mostly female members that is an Israeli spinoff of the invitation-only Facebook group by the same name used by Hillary Clinton supporters during the 2016 campaign.
Pantsuit Nation Israel was launched by Mindy Goldberg, a 33-year-old resident of Modiin who works as a fundraiser for social change organizations in Israel. When Goldberg realized on the morning of November 9 that Trump had won the election, she was surprised and dismayed.
“I hadn’t been active during the US election campaign,” she said. “I was pretty confident Hillary Clinton was going to win. Just reading about Trump and the statements he made, it was pretty hard to believe he would win.”
Realizing she would not get much work done that day, Goldberg spent November 9 creating a Facebook group for like-minded Americans in Israel. She described the group as a place for members to express their political views, something they may be uncomfortable doing in a more public forum.
An example of a posting in the group reads, “I need to share this, and this group is a safe place for it. On election day, when it became clear that Clinton would lose, I cried. I cried some more at work that day. Then I got down to the business of trying to accept reality for what it was, with the thin glimmer of hope that the electoral college would go a different path, and when that didn’t work, with an attempt to simply be stoic and embrace facts, as grim as they are.”
“Understand and sympathize 100%,” one woman commented.
“We need a group hug on Saturday night at the rally,” another said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Goldberg said she was expecting 150 people at the rally, which is set for 8 p.m. in front of the US Embassy at 71 Hayarkon Street.
She said the organization does not take any positions on Israeli politics; however, another organization that will be attending the rally, “All that’s Left,” mobilizes American Jews in Israel against the occupation of the West Bank.
Asked what the goal of the rally is, since Trump was democratically elected, Goldberg replied, “Speaking for myself personally, I believe in the democratic process, and even though the Electoral College may not be the most democratic system, it’s the one we have and I don’t believe in overthrowing a president in some kind of coup or something unlawful. But I think anyone who cares about moral decency should be standing up to the racism and the indecency that Trump has shown to so many minority communities.”
Goldberg said she believes it is the role of American Jews, including American Jews living in Israel, to stand up for others who are facing discrimination.
“We believe the depiction that the majority of Americans living in Israel are right wing is inaccurate. They may have been a more vocal voice lately, but there is no way to know how Americans in Israel actually voted because they voted through their states,” she added.
Asked why the rally is specifically geared toward women, Goldberg said, “Naturally women were most fearful of a Trump presidency. Trump has policies that women think won’t be good for them, regarding access to health care, but equality in general I think.”
The rally, she said, “is an opportunity for Americans living in Israel to be with other people who share their ideology.”