Thousands of left-wing activists belonging to groups Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has labeled "terror-aiders" gathered in Meir Park in Tel Aviv Saturday evening to protest against "anti-democratic trends in the Knesset".
Organizers said more than 15,000 were in attendance. Three people were detained for questioning after holding up Palestinian flags, and one was arrested on suspicion of holding a dagger. Another was arrested for assaulting a police officer.
The protestors plan to march to Tel Aviv Museum, where a rally will be held with MKs from Labor, Kadima, Meretz, Hadash, and Ta'al.
The demonstration is in answer to the approval of a bill stipulating that an official committee will investigate left-wing organizations and the sources of their funding.
In addition to this bill, the Knesset may soon approve similar background checks on organizations that purchase land in Israel, a proposal which left-wing MKs have called "McCarthyism". But the prime minister says he is currenlty considering subjecting right-wing groups to the same treatment.
Protestors marching in Tel Aviv Saturday held signs saying, "We will fight the regime of darkness" and "Together we will defend democracy".
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) attended the protest and inveighed against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whom he said were "supporting Lieberman's incitement and encouraging racist legislation in the Knesset".
"Tonight we are telling the Labor Party that it is a full partner of the most racist government in state history, and that they must leave it immediately," he said.
Protestors wave Peace Now flags (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said at the rally that Israel was suffering not only from the Iranian threat but also from the "Liebermanian threat".
Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh said, "We are at a dangerous crossroads where democracy is concerned. Democracy is collapsing, not because of Lieberman but because of the support he is receiving from the prime minister. Jews and Arabs who care about democracy cannot fail at this time. Anyone who wishes to know the power of the people can look to Tunisia."
In the same vein he added, "The victory of the people in Tunis over cruel dictatorship teaches us that oppression is not the fate of mankind and the people can win."
MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) denounced Foreign Minster Avigdor Lieberman's proposal to probe the funding sources of human rights organizations.
"If such legislation is passed, it will be like taking a brick out of the wall of democracy. I am surprised that Likud members support this. It's simply shameful that they can sit in a government that makes such a proposal," he said.
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