Netanyahu's government in Czechia: Israelis plan to demonstrate in Prague

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several of his ministers are due to attend a meeting with the Czech government in Prague on Monday morning. For some Israeli nationals living in Czechia, this is an opportunity to show their opposition to the current policies and authoritarian excesses that have already driven hundreds of thousands people onto the streets of Tel Aviv in recent months to demonstrate against a reform of the judicial system that is shaking the foundations of the State of Israel.

The Czech government plans to host the Israeli cabinet members at its headquarters, the Straka Academy, and at the Lichtenstein Palace in Prague. This is the fifth Czech-Israeli intergovernmental meeting and the first since 2016 in Jerusalem.

"The governments of the two countries, led by Petr Fiala and Benjamin Netanyahu, will discuss topical issues. Czech-Israeli intergovernmental consultations traditionally focus on political, economic, security and military cooperation, as well as science, research, innovation, healthcare and cybersecurity," the government informed in a press release.

The Israeli prime minister will be meeting with the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, and the head of the Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, their spokespersons confirmed to the ČTK agency. According to the Office of the Government, Benjamin Netanyahu, as is customary during his foreign visits, will also meet representatives of the Czech political opposition.

Photo: Facebook of Defend Israeli Democracy

However, it is unlikely that 'Bibi' will meet opponents of his government from the small Israeli community in the Czech Republic, who are planning to demonstrate on this occasion in Prague. Among them are some of the dozens of Israeli medical students at Charles University, including Ori, who has been living in the Czech capital for three years:

"Everyone is afraid of what might happen in the future. It makes me think about whether or not to go back. I'm not even sure there's a country to go back to. I want to have a home, I want Israel to be the state I fought for in the army, the state I grew up in and the state that accepts everyone. We're not a perfect country, but we have potential and this government is taking us ten steps backwards."

"We need to show the world that the Israeli government is not the Israeli people, that we have ideals to defend. And we want to embarrass Benjamin Netanyahu when he's abroad showing off. We want to show that we are there.

"Since school we've learned that Czechoslovakia was the only country to supply arms to Israel for the war of independence in 1947/1948. We know about this excellent relationship between the Czech Republic and Israel and that's also a reason to demonstrate here and show the Czechs what's going on: if my friend was in a bad way, I'd want to know about it, so yes there is an important historical context in demonstrating in the Czech Republic now."

Photo: archive of Czech Government

Ariel has been working in Prague as a sound engineer for ten years and is also preparing to demonstrate on Monday:

"You have to understand that demonstrating is necessary. Israel is my homeland, my family and friends live there, and I am very worried about the future of the country, because of the initiatives decided by the current government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and announced by Justice Minister Yariv Levin. This is quite simply a coup d'état."

"This government is hurting minorities, women, LGBT people, Arabs, and the list is growing every day. This government is religious, right-wing and messianic. I owe it to the Czechs to inform them of this. I am really worried and I hope that the Czechs, who helped us in 1948, will again help the Israeli people to emerge from one of the greatest crises in its history and defend our democracy."

According to information published earlier in the Czech press, the most controversial and extremist members of the Netanyahu government, notably Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, will not be travelling to Prague.