‘It’s an Emergency’: Activists Protest Apathy Toward Climate Crisis in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

Dozens of activists from Israel’s Extinction Rebellion movement joined protesters in 60 cities around the world

Extinction Rebellion activists block the entrance to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, October 7, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

Dozens of Israeli activists demonstrated against the climate crisis in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Monday. The activists, from the environmentalist Extinction Rebellion movement, took aim at the Israeli government and corporations for what they described as apathy toward climate change, as part of protests held in some 60 cities around the world by the organization.

The two Extinction Rebellion protests in Tel Aviv, held in front of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the offices of the Psagot Investment House, focused on the responsibility of industry and corporations for the climate crisis and protested against what they called “the apathy of large financial organizations to the crisis.” In Jerusalem, a few dozen activists held a protest march in the area of the Mahaneh Yehuda market, calling it a "march to atone to the world,” in the spirit of Wednesday's Yom Kippur fast.

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A climate activist superglues her hand to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building. A sign warns that pulling her hand back will cause serious injury. October 7, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

Demonstrators spilled red paint and staged a protest performance across from the offices of Psagot. In the Stock Exchange building, a number of protesters superglued their hands to the entry doors, inspired by the tactics used by Extinction Rebellion activists in the United Kingdom. That way, police could not remove protesters from the entrance by force, as doing so could seriously damage their hands.

One of activists who took part in the demonstration, Omri Perel, said that "many organizations in the world have announced they will no longer invest in polluting industries, but in Israel no one has heard about it." He added that "these financial institutions look at short-term profits, they aren’t interested in what will happen in 20 years. The Israeli public is beginning to wake up, but there's still a lot more to do.” Perel added that one of the reasons for climate inaction in Israel is that "people are afraid to face that their children are in danger."

“The situation is extreme and it requires more extreme actions than those that have been taken until now,” said Liel Biran, 58, who glued his hands to the sidewalk in front of the Stock Exchange, adding that climate action has been "relatively calm and friendly" until now. There is a place for protests and marches, he said, "but we all need to wake up. We are in a state of emergency and speeding toward an abyss, and the time has come to do things that are a bit more extreme. Not violence, but the kind that disrupt order so people will realize that business as usual is not an option,” he added.

Extinction Rebellion was founded last year in Britain. The protest the group organized in London was the largest in the world held so far against government apathy toward the climate crisis. British Extinction Rebellion activists blocked main roads in central London, and announced they intended to block the streets around the Parliament building for two weeks.

The movement, which has gained momentum in past months, has three main demands for governments: Tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt biodiversity loss, and to create a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice.