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Michigan synagogue member sues city and protesters over weekly anti-Israel demonstrations

A member of a synagogue in Michigan has filed a federal lawsuit against Ann Arbor city leaders and demonstrators over weekly anti-Israel demonstrations that have reportedly gone on for more than 16 years outside the Beth Israel Congregation.

The Associated Press reports the lawsuit filed on behalf of Marvin Gerber, a member of the congregation, argues the demonstrations have been provocative and amount to hateful, anti-Semitic speech that the city has allowed to continue without restrictions.

Additionally, the lawsuit argues placing some prohibitive restrictions on the weekly protests would not violate the demonstrators’ free-speech protections.

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“The First Amendment right of free speech does not entitle a speaker to use that right repeatedly to bludgeon, for weeks and years at a time, in the same location,” the 85-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan states. “The First Amendment ... is subject to appropriate limitations on its continued and repeated usage.”

The lawsuit is seeking an order putting restrictions on the demonstrations and demands an end to what it calls “harassing conduct.”

Gerber is also demanding a jury trial and seeking unspecified damages from the protesters and the city for emotional distress.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor is among the defendants along with protester Henry Herskovitz and his two organizations, Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends and Deir Yassin Remembered. The organizations say they were founded to advocate for Palestinians.

Taylor told the AP that he had not yet seen the lawsuit, adding that the city has worked continuously with the synagogue regarding the protests for years.

“The city has worked with synagogue leadership and congregants for years on this issue,” Taylor told the news outlet. “I recognize the pain caused by the protesters and it’s disgusting. We believe we’ve acted in accordance with our legal obligations.”