Helmeted protesters in Bnei Brak express grievances against ultra-Orthodox
Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel
Carrying a giant mock-up of the Declaration of Independence, anti-judicial overhaul protesters in Bnei Brak chant “dem-oc-racy!,” blow horns, and block major thoroughfares as they make their way through the Haredi city of Bnei Brak.
Counter-protests include ad-hoc groups of locals, a banner welcoming “Tel Avivians” to Bnei Brak, and a Chabad “mobile unit for spreading Judaism,” complete with loudspeakers blasting religious-themed music.
In addition to supporting liberal democratic values, many protesters also highlight cultural divides with their Haredi neighbors.
Amid fears of escalated violence in Bnei Brak, protester organizers distributed construction helmets to several participants.
“They’re in case they throw stuff at us again, like eggs, stones,” says Roni Golan, 63.
Mostly secular anti-judicial reform protesters demonstrate in the Haredi enclave of Bnei Brak
Carrying a giant mock up of Israel’s Decl. Of Independence, wearing hard hats “incase they throw things at us.”
Protesters tell me this is as much a judicial statement as cultural pic.twitter.com/hDadsAwf8w
— Carrie Keller-Lynn (@cjkeller8) March 23, 2023
Golan made the short trip from Tel Aviv to protest against the government’s judicial overhaul, but also to send a message about what he describes as grievances against Haredi citizens.
He says he came to Bnei Brak “to explain to the religious that their leadership is keeping them poor, keeping them from being education to join the workforce.”
Haredi leaders last summer cut a deal with now-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to increase funding to their separate education system without adding core secular subjects required for workforce integration, such as English, math, and science.