For Netanyahu Supporters, He's Already Exonerated. Now the Judges Must Fall in Line

Hundreds of pro-Netanyahu supporters gathered outside the Jerusalem District Court on the first day of the premier's trial to protest what they see as a 'frame-up'

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take part in a protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence, on the day when Netanyahu's corruption trial starts, in Jerusalem May 24, 2020.
Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take part in a protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence, on the day when Netanyahu's corruption trial starts, in Jerusalem May 24, 2020. Credit: Reuters
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

There was a doctor of microbiology, a teacher, a tile-layer, a preschool teacher and a former electronics technician. They came from cities all over Israel – Rishon Letzion, Nes Tziona, Kfar Tavor and Meitar. They were older, some already retired, and secular. All were in the front row of the demonstration outside the Jerusalem District Court in support of the defendant, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Perla Amram, a retired preschool teacher from Kfar Tavor, still works as a substitute. “I was supposed to work today but I told them I couldn’t and came to the demonstration,” she said. It’s only the second time she’d attended a rally in support of the premier. She had wrapped herself in an Israeli flag.

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“I came because what they are doing to Bibi isn’t fair,” she said. “They are doing him an injustice. They only come after Bibi. I hear what’s going on with the attorney general, and they aren’t doing anything to him.”

Pro-Netanyahu protesters demonstrate their support outside the Jerusalem District Court, May 24, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The demonstrators were gathered on Ibn Abu Taleb Street, the closest point to the district court that police would allow. They raised banners with slogans like, “Murderers of democracy,” “Mendelblit, you’re guilty,” and “Netanyahu is not alone.” Large police contingents were stationed at every corner en route to the courthouse on Salah a-Din Street.

Sa’ar Zecharia had come to the demonstration from Nes Tziona. He is a tile-layer who was able to continue working even under the coronavirus restrictions, but had to stop a month ago due to a work injury. “I come once in a while to demonstrate, during hours when there’s no work,” he said. He believes Netanyahu will be exonerated.

“It’s all a frame-up, they will cancel all the cases. It can’t be that someone who decides to indict hides recordings [a reference to Mendelblit and the Harpaz affair], that’s not logical.

Pro-Netanyahu demonstration outside the Jerusalem District Court, May 24, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

Next to him is Dr. Tzipi Peter, a microbiologist by training. “It’s horrible what’s happening, they’ve done him a terrible injustice, there’s no justice here. This whole case is a total frame-up and it screams to the heavens,’ she said. “I have a lot of friends who are professors; we live in a left-wing environment and we’re embarrassed to say, but I cry, I simply cry. How can they do this to someone who leads us, who strengthens us?”

Peter and other demonstrators believe that the one ultimately pulling all the strings in the prosecution and the courts is former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak. “He comes to his office every day,” she said. “What he wants is a state of all its citizens. They want Muslims, [African] infiltrators, and we want a Jewish state. My father is a Holocaust survivor.”

Their theory is that Barak has managed to insert his minions into every office relevant to Netanyahu’s prosecution. “He did it quietly, so no one should notice,” claimed Peter.

Netanyahu supporters hold signs that read 'Netanyahu you're not alone' and 'Investigate Mendelgate' outside the Jerusalem District Court, May 24, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Yaakov Segal, 70, from Rishon Letzion, is a retired electronics technician who now volunteers at Shamir Medical Center. “I hear all the phony stories about overcrowding in the hospitals, it’s not true. The left and the media like to blacken everything. Anything negative they inflate to huge proportions. I came here so that Netanyahu should feel the big picture, so he knows that most people know the truth and the truth is that it’s all a frame-up, without exception. Favorable coverage is considered a bribe? That’s a global precedent.”

He continued: “There’s no problem with him getting champagne, he deserves a million champagnes because he has done something no leader ever did; he has passed Ben-Gurion in terms of the respect he has, so he will turn out to be innocent. I’m just concerned that the judges don’t follow the Phalangists of the left.”

He added that he is worried that his daughters have been swayed. “They’re in Kahol Lavan and I’m angry at them,” he said. “On Fridays we don’t talk politics.”

Yona Cohen, a retired teacher from Meitar, said, “When there are political trials you have to come and warn people. … If we believed that there would be a fair trial no one would be here, but there’s no faith here. We’ve seen what’s happened all this time and we’ve lost our faith. There’s no one free of sin, but this is a libel.”

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