Some 3,000 left-wing demonstrators rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest what they called right-wing incitement against left-wing advocacy organizations, President Reuven Rivlin and others.
Organizers gave the protest the title: “Standing together against a government that incites instead of offering solutions, against the far-right’s attempts to silence and intimidate, from inside the government and from outside.”
The protest began outside Likud Party headquarters in the city’s Metzudat Ze’ev neighborhood — “because the hands may be those of Im Tirtzu, but the voice is that of Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers,” charged one organizer quoted by the Walla news site.
The protest marched from there to the memorial to assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at Rabin Square.
Im Tirtzu, a right-wing advocacy group, has faced a torrent of criticism, including on the right, over a video clip it released last week targeting prominent left-wing activists. The video showed a Palestinian terrorist stabbing the viewer, and charged four heads of left-wing groups with aiding the terrorist through their activism, referring to them as foreign “moles” over their groups’ receiving of funds from various European governments and the EU.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog said last week that the video “spilled the blood of Israeli activists.” He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett to condemn the video, accusing them of condoning incitement by remaining silent.
“Take responsibility, tell Im Tirtzu that its video is beyond the ‘separation wall’ of what is acceptable in our democratic society,” he said. “Stop those who stain your whole camp with hate.”
The video was produced by advertiser Moshe Klughaft, who also serves as a senior adviser for Bennett and ran his Jewish Home party’s election campaign earlier this year.
“Incitement is the last bastion of a failure,” charged Arab Joint List MK Dov Henin. “This extremist-right government, which is leading us to a dead end in all directions, is trying to place the blame for that on the left.”
A smaller counter-protest of some 40 far-right activists took place across the street from the left-wing rally. Its participants accused the left of engaging in its own incitement, with two activists holding up a photo of Netanyahu in a Nazi SS uniform — posted to social media by a left-leaning journalist several months ago — over the caption, “Enough with the incitement!”
— מיכאל האוזר טוב (@HauserTov) December 19, 2015
One participant in the right-wing demonstration threw bottles at the larger rally. There were no reports of injuries or damage in the incident.
The Netanyahu SS poster caused confusion Saturday evening after Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer tweeted it as proof that “on the right even Bibi [Netanyahu] isn’t immune. The monster has turned on its master.”
But further inquiry revealed that the right-wing protesters who wielded the poster were doing so to argue that such incitement was produced by purportedly left-wing journalists.