Local rabbi, on hiking trip to Israel, joins protests
NORTHAMPTON — Rabbi Justin David journeyed from Northampton to Israel at the beginning of March for a 3½-week sabbatical, aiming to hike the Israel National Trail that stretches across the country.
But he nearly didn’t make it back.
“I left hours before the airport shut down,” said David, whose flight home left Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv just hours before all flights were halted, a result of a general strike called amid a massive wave of protests that have gripped Israel over the past several months.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis of all ages have taken to the streets to protest a proposed reform of Israel’s judicial system by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has held the country’s top position for nearly all of the last 14 years and is facing charges of corruption. Critics of the proposed change say it would weaken the independence of Israel’s supreme court and would hold the government less accountable, weakening democracy in the country.