Tel: 212-828-2424; Fax: 212-828-1717; firstname.lastname@example.org www.afsi.org
Contact: Helen Freedman, Executive Director
June 28, 2010
FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS VIOLATED IN HALT TO BULLDOZER DEMO
In order to protest the disgraceful demolition plans of the Israeli government for the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, Israel, Americans For a Safe Israel/AFSI planned a demonstration for Monday, June 28, in front of the Israeli Consulate on Second Ave. & 42nd Street. We hired a bulldozer on a flatbed to be driven into Manhattan and to be parked in front of the Consulate while demonstrators chanted, waved Israeli and American signs, and carried signs.
It was 92 degrees in New York’s summer heat, and 25 stalwart supporters of Americans For a Safe Israel responded to AFSI’s call for the demonstration. They assembled across from the Israeli Consulate, on Second Avenue. Israeli and American flags were draped on the barricades. Our signs read: BARAK/BIBI, DO NOT BULLDOZE OD YOSEF CHAI YESHIVA. APPEASING THE ENEMY IS SUICIDAL; BARAK/BIBI – BUILD! DON’T DESTROY JEWISH HOMES, SCHOOLS & SYNAGOGUES; BARAK/BIBI – THE JEWISH STATE MUST NOT DESTROY JEWISH HOMES, SCHOOLS & SYNAGOGUES.
We kept looking up Second Avenue for our truck and bulldozer, as passing cars honked their horns approvingly when they read our signs. The truck and bulldozer never arrived. Jack Ross, our AFSI member, who had cleared the route with all the necessary police personnel, and had been with the truck all the way from Westchester, called to tell us that the police had detained the rig at Second Avenue and 55th Street in order to “inspect” it. It was clear that our truck had been singled out because it was part of our protest. Following the “inspection”, we were notified that it had to be “measured.” Following that we learned the truck had to be “weighed.” As delaying tactic piled one upon the other, a few of us decided to walk up to where the truck was parked. We walked the 13 blocks in the heat, to finally see our truck with the bulldozer on it. Sure enough, it was there, carrying our large signs:
We learned that the police had been tracking it from the very beginning of its trip. It was clearly safe enough to be on the highways and bridges of the city so that it was allowed onto the streets of Manhattan. Why it was stopped 13 blocks from its destination is an interesting question. It was clearly not usual police procedure since anyone living anywhere in the vicinity of New York City is aware of the huge amount of truck traffic that uses our roads, bridges, tunnels and streets.
Could the Israeli Consulate have been responsible for preventing the truck and bulldozer from being parked across from their offices? Could there have been an order from Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, to prevent New Yorkers from knowing the shameful truth about the political cowardice of Barak and PM Bibi Netanyahu for ordering the demolition of a Jewish holy Yeshiva and Synagogue? Will we ever find out the truth about this violation of our First Amendment rights in NYC? Were the police “just following orders”, and if so, who had issued them?