'Israel Rejects Trump' Rally Held at U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv

Just 20 people gathered in protest and drew critical comments from passerby, but organizer Ilana Fass hopes to build 'a community to mourn with' over Trump's victory.

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv, opposite the American embassy on Friday, November 11, 2016.
Tomer Appelbaum

Chanting “Never Trump!” “Not My President!” and “No More Walls!” a group of 20 American and Israeli protesters gathered Friday opposite the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to express their displeasure with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. 

The “Israel Rejects Trump” rally was a small and peaceful affair compared to the disturbances that have broken out across the United States in the days following the election. Most of the participants were young women who had enthusiastically supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and felt crushed at her defeat and deeply disturbed at the prospect of a Trump presidency.  

Some members of the group standing on the Mediterranean seafront holding signs like “Immigrants Built America” and “Trump is not pro-Israel” were dual citizens, who had either immigrated to the Jewish state or spent their lives in both countries, others were Americans who had come to Israel to study.   

Dual citizen Tamar Sasson, 27, said she joined the protest to publicly “take a stand against everything that Donald Trump embodies and to show that “not all Israelis identify with him and his politics. It’s disturbing that so many of them say he’ll be good for Israel and love his anti-Muslim rhetoric, and say that if they could have voted, they would have voted Trump.”

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv, opposite the American embassy on Friday, November 11, 2016.
Tomer Appelbaum

The demonstration was organized by Ilana Fass, 24, a U.S. citizen who immigrated to Israel, after the election had “shocked” her and she decided that “speaking out just by posting on Facebook and Twitter isn’t enough. We have to show people that we’re not apathetic.” 

In order to convince her that he was fit to serve as president, she said, Trump would have to publicly reject the racially divisive rhetoric of his campaign and “tell me that he plans to be a president for all Americans. After his misogyny, his racism, the fact that he was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan” she said, the country needed him to reach out to the groups he had disparaged and demonized during the campaign.

She admitted that it was unlikely Trump would do so, but she hoped that he would. “He won. And he has to be here for us now.” 

Uriel Rotstein, 26, a graduate student from Skokie, Illinois, said, “People are living in such fear. The moment Trump was elected my friends in the LGBT community and those who are Muslim and Latino - they became terrified. This election is inciting hate it’s absolutely insane.” 

The group drew curious glances from Israelis and tourists strolling by on the windy, sunny day, and a few engaged with the protesters, challenging them on their criticism of Trump. One woman argued, “Trump’s daughter married a Jewish guy. He can’t be racist!” 

Among those who stopped to talk to the protesters were Danny Glick, 18 and a student at the Bais Yeshiva in Jerusalem, chuckled at the sight.

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv, opposite the American embassy on Friday, November 11, 2016.
Tomer Appelbaum

“Don’t they know that Clinton hates Israel?” asked Glick. He said that the protest was clearly a “waste of time” and that the “last thing” Donald Trump cared about was “what a bunch of people in Tel Aviv think about him.” 

Another passerby, Daniel Makover, 27, from Boca Raton, Florida, was more sympathetic and joined the group. He moved to Israel four years ago and said, “I used to think Israeli politics were disgusting and America was much better, but this - electing someone like Donald Trump - is terrible.” 

Not all of the participants held American citizenship and were unable to vote in the election. 24-year-old Sapir Blau, a law student in Tel Aviv, holding up a sign “Love Trumps Hate.” Blau is Israeli, but attended college in the United States, said that she decided to join the protest “because it’s not an understatement to say that whoever is president has an effect on the rest of the world. We need to make it clear that the rhetoric and methods Trump used in his campaign is not acceptable in the future.” 

Fass said she was hopeful that her small initiative could help build a group of fellow political travelers who cared deeply about what was happening in American politics.

“It has been hard to find a community to mourn with,” she said “We haven’t been able to find the safe space in Tel Aviv to talk about it. I see this as a first step towards getting to know each other so we can support each other over the next four years.”