Speaking in Hebrew on a windy day outside the Israeli embassy in the capital of the United States, Benny Chukrun addressed his fellow demonstrators.
“We play a unique part in Washington. We have access to the Jewish thought leaders in the United States,” he declared during a demonstration on Sunday in opposition to significant changes the new Israeli government had planned, including a plan to curtail the country’s judicial branch’s authority. “We must act and step beyond our comfort zone.”
In support of the tens of thousands who have assembled every Saturday night in Tel Aviv and other cities to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, Israeli expatriates have been banding together in cities across the globe. Rallies have attracted crowds ranging in size from 50 to 200 in New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Chicago,
Toronto, Los Angeles, Miami, Vancouver, Sydney, Berlin, Paris, and London. This past weekend, protests were held on Sunday across North America to accommodate those who celebrate Shabbat.
For Israeli expatriates, it is an unfamiliar and perhaps frightening land. Because of the stigma of leaving Israel, Israelis in America were long known to maintain a low profile in Jewish communities.
As more Israelis moved to the United States for employment in the software industry or other professions, that sense of humiliation diminished.
Traveling and communicating internationally have also become much more straightforward. Israeli political activists in the United States are most recognized now for publicly endorsing their nation through groups like the Israeli-American Council.
UnXeptable, the organization behind many marches, was founded in 2020 to show support for Israeli protests against Netanyahu.
The scope has now been expanded to include criticism of Israeli government acts. Israelis living in the US are experiencing a recurring worry: Are they damaging Israel’s reputation? Now that they have left its borders, do they have the right to criticize their native country?
Before this weekend’s events, these inquiries were common in numerous WhatsApp groups, according to Kathy Goldberg, a 57-year-old Israeli-American who assisted in planning the solidarity demonstration in Evanston, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.