WASHINGTON – Dozens of liberal American Jews on Monday demonstrated outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new extremist coalition, warning of the dangers it poses for U.S. Jewry, the two-state solution and Israeli democracy.
Organized by Americans for Peace Now, the protest was largely meant to support similar protests in Israel organized by its sister organization Peace Now.
"Our role here, similar to so many in the human rights world in Israel who are speaking out against the people in this government, is to speak out against the policies of the government and the actions they have already taken," Americans for Peace Now CEO Hadar Susskind said, highlighting decisions already made regarding legalizing outposts, the Temple Mount and Masafer Yatta.
"The American Jewish community and our American political leaders need to recognize and acknowledge this is a different day and it can't be the same old responses. It's a new year. It's a new government. We need new responses," Susskind added.
Rabbi Esther Lederman, the Union for Reform Judaism's director of congregational innovation and leadership, added that she found comments concerning the Law of Return particularly alarming.
"The attacks made against Reform and Conservative conversions could threaten the identity and the status of Jews who want to make aliyah from North America. We need to let them know that we can't be ignored, that these movements are growing in Israel," she said, adding that "the vast majority of North American Jews support the values of religious freedom, pluralism and equality."
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Abby Stein, a leading transgender activist who was raised in a Hasidic community, said: "I've spoken with many trans people who are afraid. It's never been perfect, but now there are people in the government who are openly and clearly saying their mission is to make us disappear."