“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.
Main topics covered in this Publication:
- Continued protest against the nation state bill
- Between war and truce
- Farewell to Uri Avnery
- Selection of Articles
1. Continued protest against the nation state bill
The best answer to post-Zionism
(…) This state is defined as Jewish because that is the purpose of its existence; the democratic aspect is merely the preferred form of government. (…) The fact that Israel is a Jewish state has always been self-evident. But some Jews have recently begun to question the righteousness of the Zionist path. Following his retirement, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak told a New Israel Fund conference he was in favor of a “state of all its citizens,” thereby exposing the line behind his rulings, which eroded Zionism when he harmed the Jewish settlement enterprise. (…) This same progressive fashion guides the rulings that thwart any attempt to expel illegal migrants, the destruction of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria for destruction’s sake, the High Court of Justice’s assistance in enabling the Bedouin takeover of the Negev and the court’s outstanding responsiveness to petitions from Arabs and the Left. Such is the painful situation that demanded we legislate what once was obvious. The nation-state law is an interesting test, a test of Zionism, reading comprehension and logic. (…)
Boaz Haetzni, IHY, 01.08.18
Unconditional loyalty to the country
(…) Israel is democratic only because it is a Jewish state. If it isn’t Jewish, it simply won’t exist. The nation-state law (…) does not focus on human rights or individual rights or the rights of ethnic groups. These are all spelled out in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. (…) Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People does not contradict the other basic laws; it complements them by discussing the aspect of identity in the existing basic laws. Only the Jewish people have national rights in the Land of Israel. All other peoples can enjoy full civil rights such as self-determination. The nation-state law seeks to block the Arabs’ nationalist aspirations and their demands in the Land of Israel. I call on my Druze brethren (…) not to take us down a slippery slope and leave us in the abyss. Between us and the Jewish people, there is a long-standing alliance, and we want this alliance to continue to exist. (…) We must not do what some of the Druze protesters are doing by echoing the lying Palestinian narrative. We must stick to historical facts.
Ata Farhat, IHY, 03.08.18
Israel´s nation-state law: Not unnecessary but defective
The Israeli Nation-State Law is not unnecessary, but it is defective. It ignores the value of equality for every newborn, for every human being. (…) Favors to the Druze and Circassion minorities in return for their exercising good citizenship, which should be highly regarded and respected, are cold comfort. They would merely create a third, in between class of Israelis. Perhaps the equality excluded is not directed at minorities at all, but rather at the various streams of the Jewish majority. (…) Judaism is counted as a religion and sometimes as a civilization, but it is also a nationality. (…) There are 22 states where Arabic is the official language, so granting Arabic special status in Israel without any impact on its previous standing sounds reasonable. (…) A scan of the history of opposition, to clauses of equality in Israeli legislation, suggests that it may have more to do with divisions among Jews themselves than Israeli Arabs and other minorities. The traditional opposition to the language of equality has come from the Orthodox political parties attempting to preserve their monopoly over Judaism. (…) Menachem Begin, the legendary right-wing leader, who embodied liberalism, would be appalled by any nation-state legislation that excludes integral equality language. The only possible explanation is that their ideological descendants have surrendered to religious political pressure. (…)
Avinoam Bar-Yosef, JPO, 11.08.18
Night of honor, night of disgrace
Saturday night’s protest march through the streets of Tel Aviv and the demonstration that concluded it were a badge of honor for civic society in Israel. (…) Jews and Arabs, marched shoulder to shoulder in a joint struggle against the disgrace of the nation-state law and for equality for all of the state’s citizens. (…) It wasn’t just the Arab community, but everyone who values democracy that together shouted “no” to the nation-state law. (…) Saturday night’s protest must not be a one-time event. It’s key lesson isn’t just that Jews and Arabs joining forces can generate a meaningful protest against the most right-wing nationalist government in Israel’s history. (…) It’s not necessary to agree on everything to protest together on behalf of a joint goal. We should no longer fear cooperation between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority. We need to fight together. (…)
Editorial, HAA, 12.08.18
The proof is in the protest
(…) Palestine is there, on the mountain, where demonstrators believe a Palestinian state free of both a collective and individual Jewish presence should be established. Israel is here, in the place where protest organizers believe a binational state should be established, one that will peacefully exist alongside that Palestinian nation-state on the mountain. Demonstrators could have sufficed with agreeing to erase the Star of David from the Israeli flag. (…) It would have been nearly impossible to bury one’s head in the concrete of Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square and misunderstand what Saturday’s demonstration was really about. (…) The Knesset’s enactment of the nation-state law (…) was a decisive victory against the will of the vast majority in the Middle East and a noisy minority in Israel. While negotiations over the future of other parts of the land of Israel are still ongoing, protest organizers have another vision for “Little Israel,” that is, Israel within the 1967 borders. The nation-state law puts their vision of a binational state with equality of collective rights for all forever on hold. These demands, published in detail over a decade ago, were a bitter pill to swallow in Hebrew. It is certainly unpleasant to hear your neighbors say they do not recognize your right to self-determination in your own country. But this is much more pleasant to the ears in Arabic. (…) Radical post-Zionism has never been more warmly embraced. (…) In Russia, these people, who firmly believe in the overarching principle of equality but would never have contemplated arming themselves with gay pride flags at Saturday’s protest, would be referred to as “useful idiots.” These same bleeding hearts demand equality in the distribution of the burden in society, but only among the Jews, and exalt the Declaration of Independence but bow their heads to their new brothers in arms, who demand the right of return and reject our declaration. (…)
Zvi Hauser, IHY, 12.08.18
The deception of the apologists for Israel’s nation-state law
The public debate on the nation-state law cannot be dropped from the agenda. (…) The comparison between the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People and the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty is nothing more than a ruse. The nation-state law is not only an unnecessary law, it is an abhorrent law. Its explicit intentions have been spelled out by each of its architects. (…) The nation-state law (…) was the product of an ultranationalist government, led by the religious right, which managed to train Likud’s MKs. It (…) comes to define Israel’s essence as a country, and what is seminal is that it avoids defining Israel as a Jewish-democratic state — a definition that had been accepted over the years, until the right started to make mincemeat of democracy. (…) The nation-state law should be given no “discounts” over its intentions or its wording. It seeks to divide the public, exclude minorities and undermine the Arabic language. It also provides a valuable gift to Israel’s opponents, most prominently the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
Uzi Baram, HAA, 13.08.18
2. Between war and truce
Gaza ceasefire plan: Much ado about nothing
(…) if Mladenov decided to pack his bags and go, the chances of reaching an agreement are non-existent. The man wouldn’t have just up and left a life’s work to go on vacation if he thought for even a moment the plan he has been working on for a long time was going to be realized. (…) This is how the government gets two birds with one stone: Getting the Gaza border residents on its side while at the same putting the failure on the Palestinians. (…) As soon as the Egyptian plan was put on the table, there was no one in the Israeli defense establishment that gave it a chance. Mladenov’s plan(…) cannot be implemented without cooperation from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah (…). Even all of this money is not enough to heal the rift between Hamas and the PA. (…) Mahmoud Abbas, on his part, didn’t even think about accepting the Egyptian plan (…) Israel doesn’t believe Hamas. Not about a short-term truce or about a long-term one. It also doesn’t want a Palestinian unity government, a Palestinian sea port, and other fantasies. Israel wants to go back to March 29, before the “March of Return” protests on the Gaza border began, and this is probably what’s going to happen. But in order to return to that point, we need to convince Abbas to release the salaries to the Gaza Strip. This basic thing will give Hamas economic relief and lower the level of discontent on the Gaza street. (…)
Alex Fishman, YED, 06.08.18
Strengthen the state of Gaza
In a system dominated by diplomatic rather than military thinking, the prime minister would long since have summoned the heads of the defense establishment and ordered them to come up with ways to support Gaza in order to bolster Israel’s security. There would be no more restraint, no more easing the blockade and acquiescing in the Hamas government’s existence; instead, we would strengthen the state of Gaza. (…) Gaza is a castrated state. (…) this state is unable to fulfill the well-known quid pro quo deal in which the state provides its citizens with security and welfare and they abide by its authority. And when this deal isn’t implemented, Israelis’ security is undermined. (…) Virtually the only time when the government adopted a strategy of building up the enemy state so that it could control its forces better and thereby serve Israel’s security was between the Western Wall tunnel riots and then-MK Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount (1996-2000). Those were the years when Israeli-Palestinian cooperation flourished. But this constructive strategy is basic to diplomatic thinking rather than military thinking. (…) A policy derived from this strategy would be centered on building up the Gazan state, on the understanding that it’s an enemy which wants, first and foremost, to survive. (…) The state must disburse the aid; bypassing the state by aiding the population directly weakens it. (…) The discussions about a long-term cease-fire with Hamas provide an opportunity for rethinking. It would be a pity to waste it.
Yagil Levy, HAA, 07.08.18
A question of honor
The enmity and fear that have deepened with the conflict have dehumanized the way that Israelis and Palestinians view each other. (…) Honor. Respect. Dignity. (…) The Gaza Great March of Return on the Israel-Gaza border was about respect – honoring the Nakba and the desire for return (…) The incendiary balloons and kites – a demand to recognize the siege on Gaza and the suffering of two million people – a suffering of 70 years, a demand for dignity. (…) Israel and Fatah (the Palestinian Authority) remain locked in a battle of (dis)honor and (dis)respect. (…) Netanyahu’s sense of not being honored and respected as the Jewish people, the Jewish Nation Law became so urgent and so necessary that he has pushed through legislation that endangers Israel’s democracy and delicate internal social fabric. The expressions of the need for honor, respect and dignity have limits and need to be checked. (…) The issues are quite complex, both politically and psychologically. Part of the problem is that the post-traumatic effects of so many years of persecution of the Jewish people (…) cause the unrelenting need for approval and legitimation. It leads to the need to take action, such as legislating the Nation-State Law and flexing other nationalistic muscles and symbols of power and control. The key to unlocking the mess that we are all in is in finding the way to grant honor and respect without detracting from each side’s own honor and respect. (…)
Gershon Baskin, JPO, 09.08.18
Israel is losing patience with Hamas
(…) It is nothing short of a miracle that Wednesday’s events ended as they did and that there were not more casualties in Israel. (…) we must contemplate our response, with the knowledge that next time, things may end differently. It is doubtful Hamas is interested in war. It has its back against the wall and is unable to advance its plans to restore calm. The main culprit for this is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who does not want to see Gaza rehabilitated so long as he is not the one in charge. Hamas is certainly not about to let that happen, which leaves all sides back where they started from: Gaza under blockade, poor and agitated, with no resolution to the situation there in sight. (…) Until now, Israel’s inclination has been to consider warfare as the last resort. Jerusalem has preferred every other option on the table, including “containing” months of kite and balloon terrorism and riots at the border fence. (…) Israel must now decide if we can continue with this line, which appears to have been run its course, and not just because the next exchange might prove far deadlier. It seems Hamas really believes Israel is wary of fighting and that the reports Jerusalem prefers to hold back in order to continue to focus on the northern front are true. (…) A combination of aerial military action and diplomatic messages should be enough to make Hamas realize it has crossed a line, and that if it does not change its path, that will result in an escalation. (…)
Yoav Limor, IHY, 09.08.18
By the time you read this, any number of scenarios could have played out. The situation in the South could be calm. (…) Or (…) Israel could be preparing for a large-scale operation in Gaza (…). The surreal aspect of the last few days is that Israel and Hamas are in the deep throes of considering an Egyptian and UN-brokered comprehensive cease-fire plan. (…) the question remains if it will come before or after a military operation(…) The only solution (…) is for the international community to intervene immediately (…) There can be no more attacks on Israel by Hamas, Islamic Jihad or any other terrorist groups. In response, Israel will halt its attacks on targets in Gaza. (…) More international pressure clearly must be put on Hamas to cease its attacks, instead of the usual diplomatic tightrope act that usually accompanies the world community’s attempts to blame both sides for the escalation. In the meantime, Israel has to convey a message of strength while promising that if calm is achieved, it is ready to help in solving Gaza’s real problems: providing food, water, electricity, fuel, medical and other supplies to its more than 1.8 million residents. Their suffering can only end when the residents of southern Israel can live without fear of constant attacks, warning sirens, running into shelters, and intolerable disruptions to their lives. (…) We hope cooler heads will prevail and the current violence is precursor for the cease-fire plan being worked out. But if not, we count on the IDF to do what it takes to bring quiet to the South.
Editorial, JPO, 09.08.18
Reasons for restraint
(…) the Israel Defense Forces (…) has had three good reasons to adhere to its policy of containment and measured military responses. (…) Israel’s long-term interest in avoiding taking full and ongoing military control of Gaza, a possible outcome of an all-out military campaign; and the no less problematic possibility of a bloody draw, which could stem from a partial campaign. (…) Israel has a role to play in the band of regional forces that raise the banner of stability and are partners in the fight against radical Islamism in all its forms, from Iran to the Islamic State. It is precisely because of this partnership that Israel must exhaust the potential for joint action with Egypt. Both countries view Hamas as an enemy, an enemy upon whom it would be best to deter than to engage in an all-out conflict, the outcome of which would be difficult to control. (…) Tensions between the United States and Iran, along with economic problems in Tehran, make it ever more likely that the Iranian regime will make some provocative moves. A watchful eye in the north demands that the IDF remain as available as possible to fortify deterrence against Israel’s chief enemy.
Dr. Eran Lerman, IHY, 10.08.18
An Israel-Egypt Partnership to Stabilize Gaza
The influence of an outside actor, such as Egypt, could prevent escalations and the harmful effects of the closing of crossings between Gaza and Israel. (…) Egypt, which also borders the Gaza Strip, could be a mediator to ensure consistent crossings between Israel and Gaza. Egypt has the Rafah crossing strictly for the movement of people. (…) In order to integrate Egypt as a mediator for the Israel-Gaza borders, Egypt would need defined roles in the conflict, such as a treaty or formal declaration. In the past, Egypt has played a role of co-mediating Israel-Palestinian (…). A closer relationship would benefit Egypt as well. In the 40 years since the signing of the Camp David accords, the Israeli and Egyptian top generals have been working together to address the presence of militant groups in Gaza. Egypt is not a stranger to conflict with Gaza. (…) The geopolitical strategic moves of opening and closing borders play a pivotal role in the lynchpin world of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Ultimately, the Israeli government needs to use a different technique such as utilizing a third-party organizer of the border crossings to achieve its national security goals with Gaza. (…) Closing the crossings to prevent violence with Gaza only increases it. Israel should allow Egypt to continue a role of preventing further cyclical conflict at the border crossings of Israel and Gaza. (…)
Ilyssa Tuttelman, TOI, 14.08.18
Israel should use its military edge in Gaza
(…) there is no point in launching a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, (…) as long as Israel wants to avoid direct military rule over the area. (…) Israeli troops should not serve as PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ mercenaries. (…) The military alternative is to use our relative edge: our air force, tanks and artillery. The government must (…) carry out massive bombing campaigns (…). Israel should destroy the homes of senior terrorists from the air rather than demolish them from the ground. (…) We should intensify the attacks on Hamas and its proxies and uncover its hideouts without any warning. (…) a long-term cease-fire (…) would not be worth the paper, since all past deals have been breached (…) striking a deal after having to bear months of Hamas attacks using incendiary kites would give Hamas a propaganda victory that would resonate with many terrorists in the region. Hamas would be able to claim, justifiably, that it is able to control Israel’s actions and the scope of the violence. A sovereign state cannot let terrorists hold its citizens hostage.
Meir Indor, IHY, 14.08.18
3. Farewell to Uri Avnery
(…) He is less remembered for many of these mainstream views – of which he was a forerunner at the time – as he is remembered for being a controversial advocate of peace. (…) it focused on Palestinians, not the prevailing policies whereby Israel was making peace with Egypt. His meeting with Yasser Arafat in 1982 was seen by critics as whitewashing Palestinian terrorism. (…) the Avnery legacy is not just harsh criticism for the government’s policies. His real legacy is that he critiqued the country’s heavy-handed policies in the 1950s when it was much more difficult to do so, and carved out a space in which criticism and debate would be acceptable. (…) When we hear today about Israel abandoning its democratic traditions or criticism about issues – such as alienation of the Diaspora due to the power of the rabbinate; the lack of various freedoms; and checks on government power or the nation-state law – it should all be seen through the lens of Avnery’s critiques of the 1960s. (…) Israel has always been a complex country with different and competing identities. In many ways the 1950s and 1960s was a less democratic, more restrictive period. Avnery’s magazine, his political movement and his struggles are a window into this legacy. (…) Avnery didn’t give up hope (…) His legacy should be to encourage us to choose the hope of life over those voices of hatred and division who too often predict a dark future.
Editorial, JPO, 20.08.18
The example Uri Avnery set was without fear or bias
(…) Uri Avnery, who died this week at the age of 94, was the embodiment of ‘chalutziut’, the pioneering spirit. (…) Uri Avnery’s mission for peace spanned seven decades and combined activism, journalism and politics. He became one of the most prominent journalists in Israel, a member of Knesset who received a level of exposure that drew envy from his colleagues, and a key activist in the Peace Camp. In each of these activities, Avnery was a controversial figure: admired by some within Israel, loathed by others. (…) Avnery understood the importance of media exposure and took full advantage of the parliamentary stage. (…) Avnery’s personal sacrifices for bringing his vision to life were not insignificant. (…) Losing this great, selfless pioneer, we wonder who the inheritor of Avnery’s mantle will be.
Maya Ilany, Amos Schonfield, TOI, 20.08.18
A prophet in his city
(…) No substitute has yet emerged for this man, whose life was long and full of struggles and achievements. The Israeli left, which is at a low point in its history, is now even more orphaned than before. (…) Avnery was a soldier, journalist and politician, but more than anything he is worthy of being called a prophet. Like the biblical prophets of Israel, he saw beyond the immediate; like them, few listened to him and like them, he was persecuted (…) It’s hard to think of a fighter for peace more determined and hopeful than he. (…) Avnery’s spirit never fell. He believed in his vision to the end and remained devoted to the struggle to achieve it. (…) He also never renounced Zionism nor abandoned its principles as he saw them. As the editor of an influential weekly, as a prominent member of the Knesset or as an ordinary demonstrator, the leader of the tiny Gush Shalom movement, his spirit of struggle remained unchanged. Israel did not listen to Avnery. Nor did it give him the respect he deserved. This says more about Israel that it does about him. (…)
Editorial, HAA, 21.08.18
4. Selection of Articles
The terrorists among us
The attack on 3 Arab youths at the Haifa beach last week was no less than Jewish terrorism. (…) Violence must be eradicated with a firm hand. (…) there are rotten apples among us. (…) There’s no need to understand them. (…) These are terrorists. (…) Palestinian terrorism is the result of incitement. The fact that Jewish terrorism (…) is a rare, very rare occurrence, is the result of the lack of incitement. When there’s anti-Arab violence, as there was last week, we need to destroy the evil from within. (…) No forgiveness. (…) if the punishment of Jewish hooligans is lesser by even an inch than the punishment of Arab hooligans under similar circumstances—that would be racism and the encouragement of violence. (…) Sometimes inciters must be silenced to prevent violence. That is perhaps not the only way to prevent the next incident, but it is definitely a measure that needs to be implemented.
Ben-Dror Yemini, YED, 26.08.18
Israel’s racist lynch mobs are hunting Arabs. And they’re fueled by government incitement
I was assaulted in Tel Aviv for ‘looking Arab.’ My privilege – being a Jew of Mizrahi origin – spared me (…) The moment they understood they made a mistake and mistook us for Arabs they let us go – and disappeared back into the crowd. (…) I remember the relief of knowing that I had the right accent and the right name on my identity card to save me in the Israel of today. But “real” Arabs don’t have that privilege. (…) Arabs attacked in a country that, thanks to the Nation-State Law, now considers them officially inferior to their Jewish fellow citizens. We can’t be surprised that a violent fringe in Israel feels legitimized, when the government itself backs legislated racism. (…) How does it feel when you don’t have the right accent, the right ID card, if you’re not the “right” kind of citizen and you don’t have the full backing of a legal system to support you? These feelings – of abandonment, vilification, silencing and targeting for physical assault – should ring alarm bells from the darkest pages of Jewish history. (…) Every act of political incitement, every deliberate silence on violence against Arabs, is a threat to the safety, equality and legitimacy of millions of Israelis. (…)
Noam Shuster Eliassi, HAA, 27.08.18
Corbyn’s empty words
(…) The radical leftist leader who has called Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” did not apologize for desecrating the memory of victims of the Nazis by hosting an event at the House of Commons at which baseless, ridiculous and criminal comparisons were made between Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and Nazi Germany’s crimes against the Jews. (…) Corbyn has apologized, eight years after the fact and among increasing concerns that his leadership has led to a historic rift in the Labour party, for the “concerns and anxiety” caused by the remarks made at the event that day. This is like hearing a rapist apologize for the skies being cloudy on the day of the assault, or a murderer saying he regrets not washing his hands before killing his victim. Corbyn’s apology is meaningless. (…) Corbyn is a hopeless case. He will continue to believe what his Palestinian friends tell him: that Israel is a Nazi state, that Hamas and Hezbollah are peaceful organizations, and that Israel must be sanctioned and isolated. As long as Corbyn heads the Labour Party, he will pose a risk not only to Jews in Britain, but to Britain itself. His conduct is that of every tyrant on the radical Left who has succeeded in destroying everything in their path. (…)
Eldad Beck, IHY, 02.08.18
In Israeli court, the poet was neutralized, so to speak
(…) In her despair, Tatour revealed a painful truth: If you’re a Palestinian, you have no reason to expect justice from the Israeli judicial system, even if you’re an Israeli citizen. (…) what is permitted to Jews in Israel is forbidden to Palestinians; the soundtrack of their lives in Israel is interwoven with calls for their death or expulsion. After all, incitement against Palestinians, including outright permission to spill their blood, is a matter of routine in both the physical and virtual Israeli public sphere. Our ears have become accustomed to it, and nobody is prosecuted. (…) Her conviction tells more about Israeli democracy than it does about Tatour’s deeds. Woe to a democracy in which public criticism, as harsh as it may be, against the policy of oppression and occupation that it has been practicing for the past 51 years, criticism expressed by means of a poem by a woman who belongs to the nation that is being oppressed, is considered incitement to terror, whose punishment is imprisonment. The Israeli government can legislate Jewish supremacy, persecute and silence those who oppose the occupation, who do so using nonviolent means, whether they are Jews or Arabs, but it won’t help: The truth will come to light. (…)
Editorial, HAA; 01.08.18
Israel’s new gun policy is an invitation to more lynchings
(…) Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has decided to allow almost anyone who has completed combat service to carry a weapon – over half a million people. As we know, there’s no crazy, irrational and dangerous idea for which you can’t find an Israeli politician who will claim that it’s precisely the remedy we need. (…) This madness has roots in U.S. tradition and in the Constitution. But the powerful and relentless gun lobby is also responsible. It’s hard to believe that the Israeli right wants to adopt this sick collective obsession. Wasn’t importing Trumpism for you? (…) What will probably happen is that these guns will cause domestic violence to become far more lethal, and in the case of a terror attack, we’ll get a lot of mistaken gunfire whose victims will be civilians, whose only crime was to go out into the street with a “Mizrahi” appearance (…). All that has already happened. (…) Erdan’s decision is an invitation to further acts of lynching, as though we don’t have enough of them. We’ve also had more than enough random violence and murders of women. (…)
Zehava Galon, HAA, 22.08.18
Neutralized at the last minute
The final stage of the Syrian civil war offers an opportunity, maybe the last one, for any entity that wants to eliminate threats without paying too high a price. (…) It is likely that this played a part in the killing of Syrian scientist Aziz Azbar (…). The operation combined tactical and intelligence capabilities and a cost-benefit analysis. (…) He was a senior missile engineer, No. 3 in the Syrian weapons industry, a close associate of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the point where Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah weapons interests converged. For years, that weapons axis has been a focal point for Israel because of Hezbollah’s attempts to arm itself, and because of the additional effort this past year to establish and arm Iranian militias in Syria. Azbar oversaw missile production in Syria, and (…) was recently involved in laying the groundwork for missile production in Lebanon as well. For Israel, this is a critical issue. (…) The manufacture of missiles in Lebanon, if it begins, would eliminate the need for weapons convoys and would allow Hezbollah to build its capabilities without concern. Taking Azbar out of the game will not stop anyone in Lebanon from gaining the ability to make their own missiles, but will definitely complicate things for Iran and Hezbollah, because he was not only a source of knowledge, but also someone both sides trusted. It will take time to find a replacement. (…) It is rare that killing one person changes everything, but in a war of shadows like this one, any delay caused to the other side, any time they are forced to suspect that they might have a mole, and every failure to acquire weapons staves off the threat, and by doing so keeps the next war at bay.
Yoav Limor, IHY, 06.08.18
Detention and Interrogation = Fascism?
The recent arrival of well-respected American Jewish journalist, Peter Beinart, at Ben-Gurion airport, at which he was detained for more than one hour and interrogated by our border police, is totally unacceptable. Are we becoming a fascist country? Shall we detain and question every arriving passenger who disagrees with our government’s policies, who speaks against them, who writes articles criticizing them? It is no wonder that the word “democracy” was omitted from the new Nation-State law. No democratic country would act in such a non-democratic manner. (…) Although our police are not fascists, in this situation and similar others they have acted like them. (…) Airline passengers who are suspicious in their behavior, former Arab citizens, BDS supporters, can certainly be detained and questioned because they can be considered a danger to Israel’s security. (…) But it should not be applied to well-known and distinguished visitors solely because we do not like their criticisms or their anti-Israeli policies. (…) They have a right to expect hospitality, not hostility. (…)
Esor Ben-Sorek, TOI, 14.08.18
Netanyahu may have walked back Peter Beinart’s airport detention, but what about the leftists who aren’t on CNN?
In a rare announcement in English, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he asked the Shin Bet security service for clarifications on the questioning of American Jewish journalist Peter Beinart at Ben-Gurion Airport, saying he had been told that it was an “administrative mistake.” (…) This is very strange. This mistake seems to keep repeating (…) in no previous case have the authorities (…) Did Netanyahu mean that this time, in Beinart’s case, it was a mistake because he’s a well-known Jewish journalist and a regular commentator on CNN whose detention is more damaging to Israeli public relations? Is this why the unusual statement was made in English? Why did the prime minister not ask the Shin Bet to explain the detaining and questioning of Israeli citizens with leftist views? (…) The smell of hypocrisy wafts from the statement (…). The question is: Has the Shin Bet, like Military Intelligence a few years ago, broadened its authority to fight what the government calls delegitimization groups, organizations whose activities are perceived as “not accepting the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people,” among them BDS groups? The definition of this area is broad. It sometimes includes Israeli left-wing groups that criticize government policy. If the Shin Bet has started to monitor activists in these organizations who haven’t broken any law, it’s a significant escalation in the prime minister’s battle against leftist groups, not an “administrative mistake.”
Noa Landau, HAA, 14.08.18
Haredi battle over conscription bill
(…) The proposed conscription bill, backed by the IDF, is the best offered to the haredim in recent years. It does not impose any criminal or economic sanctions on individual yeshiva students, only general economic penalties for yeshiva budgets if they do not meet enlistment quotas. These quotas, incidentally, are relatively comfortable and achievable from the haredi public’s perspective. However, war has broken out, mainly over two issues. The first is the law’s expiration terms, with the haredim seeking a mechanism to keep the law viable even if quotas are not met. Later they demanded that quota limits be determined by the government, and not in the law itself. In the days before the Knesset began its summer recess, Lithuanian MKs scampered between the writers of the bill and their rabbis and concluded that from their point of view that the law can be passed. They have expressed unprecedented frustration in the face of the stubbornness from Litzman and his spiritual leader, the Admor of Gur. The Lithuanians are livid. They believe Litzman did not do a proper job of explaining the benefits of the law to the rabbinical leader. They believe he did not fully explain how watered down the “sanctions” are and how possible it would be to meet the “quotas.” Above all else, someone failed to explain the law as a golden opportunity to put this burning, divisive issue behind them for once and for all.
Yehuda Shlezinger, IHY, 13.08.18
HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: September 2018
Dr Paul Pasch,
Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel