The streets around the Israeli consulate in Midtown Manhattan had the normal midday rush at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, but there was not a black hat or protestor was in sight.
The absence was notable because ultra-Orthodox organizers had called for a protest against the Israeli government at 2:30, across the street from the consulate on Second Avenue and 42nd Street. This was an apparently unsuccessful effort to import to America the ultra-Orthodox protests that have rocked Jerusalem every weekend for the last two months.
The ultra-Orthodox began their protests in Israel in response to the Jerusalem municipality’s decision to open a parking lot during the Sabbath, and grew when an ultra-Orthodox woman was arrested for allegedly starving her child. It got particularly bad this weekend when the Israeli government arrested a number of protestors and declined to release them on bail. The whole mess has signaled a new low in relations between Israel’s government and its ultra-Orthodox citizens though some who live in Israel have declined citizenship due to a belief that the Israeli government is illegitimate.
Posters went up in Brooklyn and in Jerusalem calling on people to “wake up” to the “Zionist Gestapo,” and the call for protest was posted on Yeshiva World News, a popular ultra-Orthodox Web site. That item was met with a few supportive comments; one person wrote, “Kudos to those who attend and stand with our brethren in Eretz Yisroel.”
But the majority of commenters slammed the idea of protesting the Israeli government —and they appeared to carry the day as no one actually showed up at the consulate on Tuesday afternoon. There is some talk that the protest was postponed, but it does not look like there will be burning trashcans on 42nd Street anytime soon.