Hundreds of anti-overhaul protesters march across New York’s Brooklyn Bridge

Around 1,000 Israelis and Americans, including Manhattan borough president, rally in support of protest movement in Israel at city landmark

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Israeli activists opposed to the judicial overhaul march across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, July 23, 2023. (Liri Agami)
Israeli activists opposed to the judicial overhaul march across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, July 23, 2023. (Liri Agami)

NEW YORK — Hundreds of Israeli demonstrators and US supporters marched across New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday to protest the government’s judicial overhaul push and express solidarity with protesters in Israel.

The demonstrators streamed across the bridge, an iconic city landmark, bearing Israeli flags and chanting “democracy.”

The march on the bridge’s footpath was organized by the Israeli ex-pat activist group UnXeptable, which collaborates with the protest movement in Israel, and many of the New York demonstrators wore shirts representing Israeli protest groups.

Organizers said more than 1,000 people attended the rally, which echoed the protest march to Jerusalem this week.

“We see our families and our friends marching in the heat, fighting for Israeli democracy and all of our future and we want to send them strength from here,” said Shany Granot-Lubaton, a leading Israeli protest organizer in New York.

“We won’t let this corrupt government tear apart the people of Israel and the Diaspora. Israel will not be a dictatorship.”

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, one of the city government’s top Jewish elected officials, marched at the head of the protest holding a sign saying, “Saving Israeli democracy.”

“The struggle for democracy in Israel continues,” Levine told the crowd in Hebrew. “We came out today, and yesterday and every day in recent weeks, to fight for the country that we all love and we will continue, and won’t give up until they hear us.”

“I want everyone in Israel who’s fighting tonight, tomorrow, in the difficult days and weeks ahead for democracy, for justice, for freedom, to know there are many of us here in New York, many of us in in the American Jewish community, who support you,” Levine said, switching to English.

Other leading Jewish elected officials in New York, including city comptroller Brad Lander and US House Representative Jerrold Nadler, have also come out against the judicial overhaul.

New York State Assemblymember Charles Lavine, who heads the state’s chapter of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, said on Saturday that he sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to pull his support from the judicial legislation.

“Israel is at a breaking point,” said Lavine, who also chairs the assembly’s judiciary committee. “It is democracy itself that is now at stake. Citizens of no nation will enjoy economic freedom in the absence of fundamental personal rights. I urge that you fight to maintain Israeli democracy.”

New York City is home to the world’s largest Jewish diaspora community, and city leaders are firm supporters of the Jewish community and of Israel.

President Isaac Herzog visited the city last week after going to Washington, DC, and was warmly received by local leaders, including Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams, and met with Jewish community organizations and the chief of the UN. He called for judicial compromise during the visit but avoided commenting on Israel-US ties.

The Israeli activists in New York and other cities in the US and other countries have held regular rallies since the government announced its judicial overhaul package in January. Earlier this month the protesters staged a demonstration at the Statue of Liberty, and other events have taken place outside the Israeli consulate and at appearances by Israeli ministers in the region.

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