New York Police close complaint against Rothman; MK says attackers ‘shoved megaphone in my ear’

Contentiousness rises as coalition members in Manhattan for Sunday’s Celebrate Israel Parade are hounded by protestors.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The New York Police Department closed a complaint against MK Simcha Rothman hours after a leftwing protestor charged the Israeli legislator with hurting her when he grabbed her megaphone away in Manhattan on Friday night.

The police saw no injuries on the woman, and decided that no further action was warranted in the matter.

Rothman has been met by groups of shouting, anti-judicial reform protestors before, during or after several meetings he has held in recent days with New York area Jewish communities.

In this incident, the head of the Constitution, Law and Justice and Committee, who is religious, was walking to his Manhattan hotel on the Sabbath with his wife and security guards when several people started yelling while following the group closely.

In a video clip of the incident, a woman can be seen right behind Rothman while repetitively saying loudly into a megaphone that Rothman should “free the country” before he turns around, takes it away from her and starts walking more quickly while the protestors yell, “Whoa, whoa!”

According to Rothman, “a small group of violent protestors attacked” the couple.

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“They blocked our way, stepped on my wife Chana’s foot, and cursed, including wishing for my death,” he wrote in a post on his Facebook account. “The security guards called the police, described where we were, and we continued walking while ignoring the protesters.”

“At one point…they put their megaphone against our ears (which is assault) and yelled,” he added. “Both the guards and I told them, again and again, to stop and move away, but they continued.”

After the warnings went unheeded, he said, “I took the megaphone which the protester shoved in my ear, without touching her, of course. After about half a block, we reached a spot where we could wait for the police. The police accompanied me to the hotel, and the incident ended.”

The violent attackers were Israeli, he noted, in contrast to the minority in the local Jewish community he has met who are against the reforms, who “were respectful” when disagreeing with him. In general, he felt the Jews in New York gave him “a lot of support and encouragement to proceed with the reform plan,” he said.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli was also accosted by protestors, this time on Saturday, in front of a synagogue, as was Economy Minister Nir Barkat upon his arrival to his Manhattan hotel.

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The three had come ahead of the Celebrate Israel Parade Sunday, in which they will march along with more than a dozen other cabinet ministers and MKs in the largest Israeli delegation ever to attend the annual event. Marking Israel’s 75th birthday, it is expected to draw some 40,000 participants, making it one of the largest Israel Day parades ever.

Parade sponsors, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, sent out a letter signed by dozens of rabbis across the religious spectrum asking that the event be held in a spirit of togetherness, “showing the world that we are one community even when we disagree.”

Rothman castigated opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz for not condemning the “violent attack on Knesset members.”

While they were silent, MK Gilad Kariv (Labor) went on the attack, slamming Rothman’s behavior. He told Ynet that the grabbing of the megaphone showed “disrespect for the entire Knesset,” and that “he is unworthy of being the head of the Constitution Committee.”