For the second weekend, members of the Jewish community, including Israeli expats, held a protest in Melbourne against planned changes to Israel’s judicial system and Law of Return, which they claim will undermine democracy in Israel.
Holding aloft Israeli flags and placards proclaiming “Save Israel’s democracy” and “no balances, no checks”, and chanting in Hebrew, the protesters gathered at the corner of Hawthorn and Balaclava Roads outside Caulfield Park on Sunday.
They were told the Netanyahu government’s imminent charges – targeting the independence of its courts, altering the status of prospective olim, and discriminating against non-Orthodox streams of Judaism – represent “a sudden and complete break with the basic values of the State of Israel”.
Rabbi Yonatan Sadoff, of Masorti shule Kehilat Nitzan, said to demonstrators, “We stand in protest of the government’s proposed judicial overhaul.
“We stand in protest of proposed changes to the Law of Return. We stand in protest of a discourse within the leading political coalition openly discriminating against Jews of liberal streams representing millions of Jews around the world and in Israel, against secular Jews, against the LGBTQ community and against Arabs.”
He said, “We love the country of Israel and the people of Israel everywhere they are. We love an Israel which has stood alone, as a light of democracy in the Middle East.
“We are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the culmination of a miracle … the re-establishment of our homeland in Israel.
“And while we reflect on this miracle and the vision of its founders, we are concerned, frightened, sad and even angry about the moves of the current government to make a sudden and complete break with the basic values of the State of Israel as it was founded.”
Earlier, Israeli expat Nirit Eylon, a coordinator of the protests, told The AJN the rallies will probably continue.