NEW YORK (VINnews) — Protesters against Israeli government policies heckled MK Simcha Rothman as he walked in New York Friday, with some using megaphones behind him to taunt and criticize him.
At one point Rothman, who heads the Knesset Law and Justice committee and is one of the architects of judicial reform, lost his cool and forcefully grabbed a megaphone from one of the protesters. Video pictures showed Rothman running off with the megaphone and his security man fighting with protesters who tried to retrieve the megaphone.
Rothman is one of several Israeli lawmakers in New York for the annual Celebrate Israel Parade on Sunday. The MKs have been targeted for protests and demonstrations during the course of their visit.
The woman protesting, a Colombia University student and lawyer, filed a police complaint for harassment against Rothman, stressing that “Rothman’s violence won’t break our resolve.”
“This is Manhattan is not Hadera; democracy still exists here, so we can tell him to his face what we want, and no police officer will stop us from exercising basic freedom of expression,” said protest organizer Shany Granot.
“This is our opportunity to give everything to push against the delegation of lies and hatred that comes here,” protest organizers said in an earlier statement. “Our message is simple: whoever dismantles Israeli democracy should not expect a relaxing vacation in New York.”
The New York Police Department announced overnight (Saturday) that it has closed the complaint filed by the protester
Israeli and American anti-government protesters have been targeting all government ministers visiting New York, aiming to disrupt their visits to the city. The protestes have built out a well-coordinated network of hundreds in and around the city in recent months, efforts that are paying off as they work to disrupt MKs visits to New York. Group members alert organizers when they spot the politicians around the city by sending in photos and a location, and other nearby activists are then dispatched to the scene. Protesters confronted Rothman as he relaxed on a park bench in Brooklyn on Thursday to tell him that “he’s not wanted here.”
Rothman later described the incident differently, claiming that he was the one attacked:
“Friday night incident in New York”
“A small group of violent demonstrators attacked my wife and me as we were walking in New York late at night. They barred our way, stepped on my wife’s foot and cursed, making death threats. The security guards summoned police, we told them where we were and continued walking, ignoring the demonstrators. At some point when they saw we weren’t bothered by them, they placed a megaphone near our ears [ a clearcut assault] and screamed. The guards told them to stop and clear off but they continued. After all the warnings, I took a megaphone from one demonstrator without touching her and a short while later we came to a place where we could wait for police, who accompanied me to the hotel.
On Thursday, Rothman criticized the protesters, stating: “To the leaders of the protest against Israel’s democratically elected government, I say today: Is it not enough that you worked to damage critical unity among our fighting forces, and have both incited to and committed violence in Israel?” Rothman said.
He called on President Isaac Herzog “to condemn the organizations who stand ready to destroy the State of Israel’s most important relationship with world Jewry just to gain points in a domestic political struggle.”