Demonstration split into two marches, one organized by the Standing Together organization and the other focused more specifically on plans for the justice system.
Thousands protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday night in a first major rally against the new government and its far-right policy plans, with two marches taking place in the city.
One march organized by Standing Together, a grassroots group promoting Jewish and Arab equality and partnership, and the other focused more specifically the threat to the country’s justice system.
Both camps gathered at the city’s Habima Square before setting out on separate marches, with the Standing Together side heading to a rally at the square in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
At the Standing Together rally, Ayman Odeh, chairman of the left-wing Hadash party, said: “With this historic crisis there is also a huge and historic opportunity. … The fascists’ only chance is to separate us, and we won’t let them.”
At Habima Square, the head of the Bar Association, Avi Himi, said: “I want to convey a message to [Justice Minister] Yariv Levin and his ilk. We will not allow you to turn us into a dictatorship.
“The overhaul he is proposing is the destruction of democracy, weakening of human rights, the independence of the court and our children as citizens. The only way a democratic society can cope is through what we’re doing tonight,” he said.
Yael Lotan and Avner Gvaryahu of Breaking the Silence also spoke at Standing Together’s rally, as well as Labor lawmaker Naama Lazimi.
Among the reasons for the separate marches was the possibility that Standing Together’s would include Palestinian flags, potentially giving the government ammunition to claim the rally was organized by the far left and alienating some protesters who wanted to focus on the government’s plans for a major overhaul of the justice system, which their critics say pose a threat to democracy.