Israeli expats gather for anti-Netanyahu protest at London embassy

Action was taken to show solidarity with anti-government demonstrators in Israel


Around 150 demonstrators gathered near the Israeli Embassy on High Street Kensington on Sunday in a show of solidarity with anti-government protests that have taken place in Israel over the past few weeks.

The protesters held signs criticising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or warning of what they see as an erosion of democratic norms in Israel.

Others flew ‘black’ Israeli flags – a symbol adopted by anti-Netanyahu protesters to warn of what they view as a risk to Israeli democracy.  

Protests are not permitted directly in front of the embassy on Kensington Palace Gardens, so those gathered shared the pavement with dozens of curious onlookers queuing to enter shops. 

A small number of passing vehicles tooted their horns in an apparent sign of support, although it was unclear whether the drivers were aware of the nature of the protest.  

Organised through Facebook, estimates suggested that around 80 to 90 per cent of attendees were Israelis – mostly expatriates, students and those on assignment in the UK – all of whom were wearing protective face-masks, although none appeared to be social distancing.

Shachaf Karvat, one of the organisers, said that the demonstration was organised to “show solidarity and support to those protesting in Israel.”

“This is not about left or right,” he said, “it is about keeping Israel a democracy and keeping it a safe place for everyone.”

Organisers had expected around 40 people to turn out, and Mr Karvat said he was “shocked” by the numbers that came, including a group of Israeli students from Cambridge.

Mr Karvat, an Israeli IT consultant who has spent six years living in the UK, said that he hoped that at any future demonstrations there would be a greater turnout from the British Jewish community.

“From my experience with the Jewish community in the UK, most of them say that Israel is their second home,” he said. “I hope that the Jewish community here feel importantly enough to keep Israel a democracy.”

Similar demonstrations have been taking place elsewhere, including in San Francisco, New York, Paris and Berlin.

On Saturday, over 10,000 rallied against Netanyahu in Jerusalem’s Paris Square, in the largest protest yet seen in this wave of demonstrations in Israelis. The protests have occasionally been marred by violence by police and hooligans.  

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