Evanston rally decries Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s attempts to weaken the Supreme Court of Israel


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Rabbi Rachel Marks speaks against attempts to weaken the Supreme Court of Israel on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023 in Fountain Square.

Aviva Bechky, City Editor

About 50 people gathered in Fountain Square Sunday to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s moves to weaken his country’s Supreme Court. 

Legislation being pushed by Netanyahu’s legislative coalition would allow a simple majority vote by the Knesset, Israel’s parliamentary body, to overrule Supreme Court rulings. Israel is entering its seventh week of protests against this move, with tens of thousands of people across the political spectrum decrying the policy, according to CNN. The Knesset will vote on judicial reform Monday.  

Throughout Europe and the U.S., protestors have held rallies in solidarity. The Evanston event was coordinated with international group UnXeptable, which describes itself as “a grassroots movement launched by Israel expats in support of a democratic Israel.” 

Highland Park resident Kathy Goldberg said she organized the Sunday rally, her second to take place in Evanston, for two reasons.

“One is a show of support for morale, that they are not alone, that the worldwide community is not standing silent. The other is to raise awareness of how bad the situation is in Israel,” Goldberg said. “More people should be aware here, both in the government and in the Jewish community, in general.”

At the event, community members stood up to speak in both English and Hebrew. Most self-identified as Zionists and said they wanted to see Israel thrive as a democracy. 

Rabbi Rachel Marks of Temple Beth Israel in Skokie attended and gave a speech about the connections between the protests and a story about King Solomon. 

Solomon once demonstrated that, when discussing a child with two heads, the two heads were truly part of the same being, Marks said. Similarly, she said, the protests in Israel and throughout the world all linked together.

“To me, one of the things that makes Israel possible to be a state in the modern world, just a dream, is that it’s a democracy,” Marks told The Daily after her speech.

Sam Fleischacker, an Evanston resident, wanted to show his support as an Orthodox Jew, especially because more secular Jews tend to be represented at protest events, he said.

He added that he thought it was important for people like him who support Palestinian and Israeli coexistence to attend.

“We want to hold our country up to its ideals,” Fleischacker said. 

Goldberg said in New York, rallies about Israel’s Supreme Court are taking place each week.

Going forward, she said she wants to see attendance grow for future protests. The next is tentatively planned for early March, Goldberg told The Daily.

“This is like, across the board, people rising up to protect democracy,” Goldberg said.

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