Footage emerged Saturday of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making disparaging hand gestures toward a protester in New York decrying his government’s judicial overhaul program, a rare sight of the premier appearing to show how bothered he is by the persistent demonstrations shadowing him around Israel and abroad.
Channel 13 news published the clip, reporting that it was filmed on Friday when Netanyahu made an unannounced trip to a local hospital to visit a friend during his US trip.
After he exits the vehicle and is on the sidewalk, an Israeli woman who evidently recognizes the premier and opposes his government starts repeatedly calling “Shame!” toward him.
The footage shows Netanyahu reacting by making dismissive and belittling hand gestures in her direction.
He is then seen entering the building.
Channel 13 said Netanyahu apparently was unaware he was being filmed, adding that the incident was filmed by a person in an adjacent building.
Exclusive: PM Netanyahu reacts to a protester shouting “shame” at him in the streets of NYC. We’ve never seen Netanyahu react to the protest that way in the past. It is clear how much the protests bother him. pic.twitter.com/maW9Qfxczj
— נריה קראוס Neria Kraus (@NeriaKraus) September 23, 2023
Anti-overhaul demonstrators have hounded Netanyahu throughout his US trip, holding rallies attended by hundreds earlier this week in Times Square and outside a meeting between Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden. Protesters also held a series of events in California as the prime minister visited for a meeting with Elon Musk earlier in the week.
On Friday, around 2,000 protesters rallied outside UN headquarters in New York City, as Netanyahu delivered a speech to the General Assembly, in what appeared to be the largest demonstration against the judicial legislation held outside Israel since the government announced the legislative package at the beginning of the year.
The Israeli-led crowd included many non-Israeli US Jews and filled a plaza across from the UN with Israeli flags bearing the slogan “free in our land,” a line from Israel’s national anthem. They carried signs that said “democracy or rebellion,” “protect Israel’s democracy,” and “history has its eyes on you.”
US Jewish leaders including Elliot Cosgrove of Manhattan’s Park Avenue Synagogue and Amy Spitalnick, head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, addressed the crowd, along with Israeli protest leaders.
On Thursday night, several dozen pro-Netanyahu demonstrators led by the right-wing Zionist Organization of America rallied outside Netanyahu’s hotel.
Luke Tress contributed to this report.