“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.
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Main topics covered in this Publication:
- Death Penalty for Terrorists
- Yair Netanyahu in a Strip Club
- Tensed Security Situation
- Selection of Articles
1. Death Penalty for Terrorists
Death Penalty Politics
(…) legislation that seeks to introduce broader use of capital punishment should not be passed due to political pressures. A thorough discussion of the issue that takes into consideration a wide range of issues must be conducted before the Jewish state starts issuing death sentences to terrorists. (…) Even if they do not blow themselves up, nearly all terrorists are essentially suicide attackers. (…) carrying out death sentences would only embolden the extremists. On the other hand, while the death penalty might not be a deterrent, it does eliminate the possibility that one of these despicable human beings will be set free to murder again in a prisoner swap. (…) (…) 70% of Israeli Jews “strongly” or “moderately” support the death penalty. (…) The murderers of the Fogel family in Itamar and of the Salomon family in Halamish do not deserve to live. But revenge should not be the sole consideration, nor for that matter should narrow political interests. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 04.01.18
Current punishment is not a deterrent
(…). Among families who have lost loved ones to terrorism, especially those who were the victims of terrorists who perpetrated attacks after being freed in prisoner exchange deals like the one for Gilad Schalit (…) there is an understanding that the existing punishments, such as demolishing terrorists’ homes or stopping stipends to the terrorists and their families, are insufficient (…). We aren’t naïve. We’ve seen how politicians arrive to comfort families at the shiva and make speeches about “the death sentence,” but immediately afterward disappear and blame the attorney general or the chief military prosecutor for not demanding it in court. This bill passing, if only as yet in a preliminary reading and with more discussion and battles over it in various committees to come, is a clear declaration that this tool exists and we intend to use it. (…) We will continue to fight until the government starts using the death penalty against terrorists!
Hadas Mizrahi, IHY, 04.01.18
Kill the death penalty bill
(…) This bill (…) has now fulfilled its political mission and done its duty by those chanting “death to terrorists,” (…). The death penalty is nothing but cold-blooded murder carried out by civilian society, and is therefore morally invalid. In addition, such a law is superfluous and dangerous. (…) Israel has a wealth of means to deter, punish and even take revenge against terrorists who carry out their murderous deeds in the name of national or religious ideology. Executing them would only elevate their status and turn them into martyrs and role models. (…) there is also the dubious legal argument that Israeli law already permits the death penalty when the judges rule unanimously in its favor. However, anyone who takes this tack is still condoning the death penalty in principle, which is a slippery slope toward legislation easing the way to this punishment, which is the goal of the bill’s sponsors. The gallows will not win the war on terror, but only increase the damage to Israel’s moral strength. The biggest threat to terror is a diplomatic alternative, which is seen by Israel’s government as a greater threat than terror itself.
Editorial, HAA, 05.01.18
Death penalty bill: The end justifies the means
(…) after personally experiencing terror, I think and believe the death penalty is the proper response to a terrorist who took someone’s life. A man who got up in the morning and turned into a murderer won’t go back to being a human being. I am here in the name of the people and families who don’t know they’re about to join the bereavement family. The quest for a death penalty isn’t driven by revenge, but by the need to prevent the next murder. After all, no punishment will return our loved ones. (…) We must do everything in our power to restore deterrence. In addition to the death penalty bill (…) it’s time to completely destroy terrorists’ homes and revoke their citizenship. Every means of deterrence preserves the sanctity of life. By harming our means of deterrence, we are forfeiting human life.
Michal Salomon, YED, 05.01.18
Death penalty contradicts Judaism
(…) Let us leave aside for a moment the debate over whether the death penalty functions as a successful deterrent (…). The fundamental question is whether in Israel, the Jewish nation-state, we must allow the court to impose the death penalty. (…) the state has the right to take human life in order to fulfill its duty to protect its citizens from outside and domestic enemies. (…) The judicial system functions in a completely different arena. (…) The court examines the evidence presented before it under sterile conditions. (…) The judicial system should not be granted unlimited power. It is wrong to allow a flesh-and-blood judge to issue a final verdict that cannot be reversed. This is the meaning of the sanctity of life: wherever we can, we make it clear to ourselves in society that we do not grant the state, the court, the right to take the life of a person, even one whose terrible deeds violated this sanctity. (…) Jewish tradition (…) not only strongly opposed the execution of criminals by the halakhic judicial system, but also sought to facilitate parallel justice systems (…) and to commute the punishments of those whose guilt was determined on the basis of questionable evidence. (…) The concern is that the death penalty initially imposed on terrorists, on murderers, would later be imposed on the abominations of rapists, accessories to murder, and others. We would risk executions becoming routine, human life turning cheap, and Israel would degenerate into a moral low. (…) As Jews who uphold a tradition that sanctifies human life and rejects violence and cruelty against any person in principle, we must oppose the fact that in the Jewish nation-state, the court can sentence a person to death (…).
Naftali Rothenberg, TOI, 05.01.18
The death penalty’s appeal
There is something bizarre about using capital punishment as means of generating deterrence opposite individuals who glorify death. (…) for many terrorists, death is a sublime aspiration. (…) Capital punishment cannot be used to deter those who aspire to die and it has little preventative value. (…) Israel will not become a slaughterhouse in which thousands of prisoners are executed. Even if we impose the death penalty only in exceptional cases of mass murderers, we are still left with dozens of candidates compared to thousands of prisoners. (…) 10 high-profile cases a year may spell the death sentence for terrorists, but they also spell collective diplomatic suicide for Israel. (…) The Israeli public knows that imposing punitive measures that include the expulsion of terrorists’ families or the demolition of terrorists’ homes would be immediately translated into sparing lives. But the same legal elite, which presents itself as a warm and cohesive family is, in fact, disconnected from the public and as a result, it passes hollow, condescending legislation that has little to do with reality or the public’s wishes. (…)
Galit Distel Etebaryan, IHY, 08.01.18
Do not kill in my son’s name
(…) Why have we lost all understanding of human nature? What makes us think that by enforcing the death penalty we will prevent crime? (…) death penalty has never been a deterrent to further murder and crime. In fact in our case it may encourage copycat phenomena. When the death penalty takes place, he who was executed will become somewhat of a folk hero and his status even more revered than a prisoner. (…) I have met some of the prisoners who committed terrible crimes and today they are some of the most ardent advocates for peace. (…) Peace does not equal justice, and as long as Israelis cannot accept this fact and insist on only referring to the narrative of what was done to them – there is no prospect for a lasting peace. I cannot condone the killing of anyone by the state. Basic human rights and dignity supersede any desire for revenge.
Robi Damelin, HAA, 10.01.18
2. Yair Netanyahu in a Strip Club
What Yair Netanyahu learned at home about women
(…) In the 11 years he’s been in office as prime minister he hasn’t lifted a finger to promote the struggle against violence towards women and has not even once voiced a clear moral stand against the culture of rape that is threatening to engulf Israeli society (…). We didn’t hear one word from Netanyahu about former President Moshe Katsav’s case or the investigation into the conduct of former general and cabinet member Rehavam Ze’evi. (…) Netanyahu unabashedly backed two of his bureau chiefs who were accused of harassment and aggravated sexual offenses. After the resignation of Nathan Eshel in 2012, following revelations regarding his harassment of a female employee (…) Netanyahu parted from his confidant with a warm and friendly public hug (…) Not only did Netanyahu not condemn this thuggish behavior, he retaliated against the employees who exposed the documentation of the harassment, causing them to leave his bureau. (…) Eshel was replaced by a no less problematic person, Gil Shefer, against whom two charges of sexual assault have been filed. (…) When this is the home in which Yair (…) Netanyahu was raised, it’s easy to understand where he learned that a woman is no more than an object meant to satisfy his pornographic needs.
Shira Makin, HAA, 10.01.18
The filthmongering media
(…) several of the employees in the prime minister’s residence (…) are happy to betray every kind of trust in exchange for kickbacks. These employees sold information obtained while at work, raising questions over the confidentiality of the sensitive state secrets discussed there. At the same time, a media outlet that is reportedly willing to pay a large sum for yellow, disgusting material like this is a filthmonger dealing in sewage (…) The radical Left and its indentured media servants are unwilling to accept the fact that Netanyahu has tossed into the dustbin of history their naive belief that if we only relinquish land, including parts of Jerusalem, peace will reign. They hold on to their childish belief in a peace that would make Israel’s military presence in Nablus and Hebron unnecessary and that would stop young Israelis from emigrating, traveling en masse to Berlin or Los Angeles to seek out peaceful lives. (…) The objective of the broadcast was to generate disgust for the Netanyahu family by creating an atmosphere of corruption, thereby making the prime minister more likely to step down of his own accord. (…) Out of respect for the dead, I will refrain from mentioning far worse affairs that were kept out of the media and away from the public. The delays in the corruption investigations against Netanyahu known as Case 1,000 and Case 2,000 – as well as the fact that Case 3,000, on which hopes and dreams were built, actually has nothing to do with the prime minister – have forced the leaders of the witch hunt to look for an alternative path to unseat the prime minister. They found it in Yair Netanyahu’s nonsensical rambling. (…)
Dr. Haim Shine, IHY,10.01.18
The Yair Netanyahu scandal has left us besmirched
(…) I abhor strip clubs, drunken boasting and sexism. But I am far angrier at the driver who allegedly recorded Yair Netanyahu’s remarks, the reporters who gleefully broadcast them, and a public that doesn’t realize that democracies (…) can die from overexposure. (…) Democracies do better in societies that show a little more discretion, a little more constructive hypocrisy. (…) This growing lack of compassion for others is intensified when we scrutinize our leaders – especially the ones we criticize. (…) neither the press, the prime minister nor his family should be in charge of determining whether the prime minister’s family needs security. That should be left to our security services. (…) Once assigned, security guards and drivers must become true shadows, keeping their mouths shut, their tape recorders and cameras off and their wits about them. (…) Sadly, this affair has left all of us besmirched. It’s depressing that we are so familiar with Yair Netanyahu’s behaviors. It’s distressing that we encourage leakers in their illegal indiscretions and reporters in their voyeurism on our behalf. And it’s disturbing that we indulge and enjoy – and perhaps even prefer – gossip and distraction over thoughtful debate about serious issues.
Gil Troy, JPO, 11.01.18
A fitting rehab project
Yair and his wealthy friends should set up a nonprofit rehabilitation center for lap dancers and prostitutes. (…) Publication of tapes as well as testimony that Yair has been a regular client of strip clubs portrays a pattern of behavior which is most problematic, if not criminal. (…) Numerous studies worldwide, as well as in Israel, have shown that these women wish to leave their “profession” and find a different way to support themselves and their families. (…) I have a proposal to make to Yair that would show that he is no longer a sexual predator and is truly sorry for his past behavior. (…) Yair and his wealthy friends should set up a nonprofit rehabilitation center for lap dancers and prostitutes. This center would provide financial assistance, counseling, job training and drug rehabilitation. (…) Putting money where their mouths are would rehabilitate them as well as women who have suffered from sexual abuse for so long. (…) I hereby volunteer to recruit well-known Jewish women’s rights activists worldwide to assist Yair and his friends in establishing the rehabilitation center for prostitutes.
Sharon Shenhav, JPO, 11.01.18
Sins of the father
(…) The recording of Yair Netanyahu and friends (…) exposed layers of filth that hardly suit their white-collar powerful fathers. In a few minutes of casual, post-lap dance conversation, the three amigos, led by Yair Netanyahu, discuss women, money and power; the Netanyhau Jr. going as far as pimping his former girlfriend to his mates. More troubling than the conversation itself is PM Netanyahu’s response to it, accusing the media of public shaming in order to undercut his government. Wrong answer, Mr. Prime Minister. The right one would have been to feel shame, to take responsibility, to restate the values according to which the public would have expected you to raise your son. (…) The young Netanyahu has been named as his father’s successor and a promising candidate on the Likud ballot. His friends are on their way to become tomorrow’s tycoons. The values they clearly didn’t see or learn at home, and failed to acquire through the educational system, are a great concern. The fact that in the 21st century, we are still fighting against religious and political forces wanting to exclude women from the public sphere, testifies these men didn’t grow up in a society which demonstrates these values strongly enough. We must educate, infiltrate the system. We have a duty to future generations to have better people in positions of power. (…) Leaders who respect women.
Lesley Sachs, TOI, 11.01.18
Something is rotten in the Prime Minister’s Residence
(…) If this wasn’t the prime minister’s son, the Netanyahus may have had a point when they slammed the report as cheap and vicious gossip. But this young man, who sat in a car funded by all of us, with a driver and a security guard funded by all of us, who spoke about prostitutes in gutter language and even offered to set up intimate meetings between his friends and his ex-girlfriend—this young man isn’t everyone’s child. (…) there isn’t a single parent in Israel who wouldn’t die of embarrassment if his or her son were exposed in a conversation like the one that took place in that car. (…) A conversation between young people, especially if they’re intoxicated, is never a Shakespearean experience. But what was revealed in the recording (…) goes beyond the vulgar, obscene discourse. (…) Netanyahu Jr. picks rich friends too. Like his mother and father, he expects them to pay for his leisure activities. His language isn’t very different from his mother’s language when she abuses her workers. And like his parents, he also feels he deserves everything, no matter how much it costs and who’s paying. (…) The question whether (…) Yair Netanyahu needs a car, a driver and a bodyguard to take him out to clubs on Friday nights—should now be discussed more intensely. There is something unreasonable here (…)
Sima Kadmon, YED, 11.01.18
3. Tensed Security Situation
As Islamic Jihad grows stronger, it’s time to talk to Hamas
(…) Hamas is having trouble controlling the situation in the strip due to growing Iranian involvement. While Hamas appears to be making an effort to ease the tensions, Islamic Jihad keeps firing mortar shells into Israel. (…) following the “reconciliation agreement” with Fatah, the Palestinian Authority will likely also try to convince the organization to avoid worsening the situation with Israel in a bid to achieve a diplomatic return. Iran’s long arms seem to be encircling Israel: In Lebanon, it has Hezbollah, which can’t exist without it; in Syria, Iran is funding Shi’ite militias that are fighting the rebels together with the Syrian regime and whose members are expected to remain in the area after the Assad regime’s victory; in the Gaza Strip, Iran’s influence is still smaller than in Lebanon and Syria, but if it succeeds in expanding its influence there, the State of Israel will face a difficult challenge.(…) Islamic Jihad is competing against Hamas (…). With Iran’s support, it could grow and become a much more significant organization in terms of the threat to Israel, and the result will be another front controlled aggressively by Iran. (…) Israel must make a perceptual change and try to see Hamas as an organization it could (…) reach understandings with. (…)
Liram Stenzler-Koblentz, YED, 09.01.18
Strategic superiority, constant concern
Monday night’s strike in Syria again proved Israel’s strategic superiority in the northern sector. (…) Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is rapidly recovering from the waning civil war and it is now in control of vast areas in the country. Damascus cannot afford to appear helpless against Israeli strikes. (…) it confines itself to propaganda. (…) Assad’s regime and military are still working to rebuild their confidence. For now, it seems Israel can operate freely in Syria and strike whenever and wherever it sees fit. This will not always be the case. At some point, someone will strike back. But that someone is nowhere to be found at this point, as Assad is still licking his wounds and there is little chance of him voluntarily provoking a war with Israel. (…) Iranians spoke out against Tehran’s involvement in Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and the money spent there at the expense of the Iranian public. This is a cause of great concern for the ayatollahs’ regime, and Iran is likely to try to lower its profile in Syria for a while. Israel is likely to take advantage of these circumstances to try to improve its regional position. (…) while chances of war with Syria in the foreseeable future are low, chances of an unexpected flare-up on the northern border are high. (…) This possibility requires the IDF to continue to remain vigilant and act judiciously. Israel must make sure that a surgical strike, regardless of the significance of the target, will not spiral into a war it does not want.
Yoav Limor, IHY, 10.01.18
How to stop the shooting from the Gaza Strip
(…) the road to a further round of fighting in Gaza (…) is growing shorter. (…) If Israel wishes to avoid escalation, it must find ways to take immediate, forceful action to reduce the humanitarian and economic pressures on the Gaza Strip (…) Israel has no interest in translating the existing tension into a broad conflict, since it is not seeking a substantial change in the situation in Gaza. (…) However, Israel’s response strategy currently appears ineffective, and Hamas is finding it hard to stop the shooting. (…) A decisive reason for Hamas’s unwillingness to restrain the firing by Islamic Jihad is apparently its desire to ensure continued Iranian support, with money and arms. (…) conditions in the Gaza Strip today resemble those that prevailed before previous rounds of hostilities, above all Operation Protective Edge. The worsening infrastructure crisis (…) is joined by a wave of layoffs in the private sector, a significant rise in the number of small and medium traders going bankrupt, and severe damage to the liquidity of banks and commercial institutions. (…) the last salary payment to its employees, equal to 40 percent of the normal wage, was transferred last October. Against this background, the frequency and extent of incidents and warnings is increasing, in the pattern of action-reaction between Israel and Hamas, and the risks of escalation are becoming more severe. Escalation has its own dynamics, even when the interests of both sides are to avoid a conflict. (…)
Udi Dekel, JPO, 11.01.18
With tunnel under Gaza crossing, Hamas tried to deceive both Israel and Egypt
(…) The tunnel’s exposure will likely (…) make it clear to the Egyptians that Hamas tried to deceive them. As we know, there are more than 1,000 smuggling tunnels (…) mostly used for smuggling goods, but also for smuggling weapons and people from the strip to Sinai and from Sinai to the strip. (…) the Egyptians likely never imagined that Hamas and other Palestinian organizations would dare dig a tunnel under Israeli territory which would reach Sinai. (…) Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi sees the Muslim Brotherhood movement in his country as an existential threat, but he was willing to reconcile with Hamas to prevent Palestinian aid from Gaza to ISIS (…). Hamas’ new leadership in Gaza accepted all the Egyptian demands and even pretended to sever its ties with ISIS in Sinai. Now, the Egyptians are discovering that Hamas actually deceived them. (…) the Egyptians are going to reevaluate their relationship with Hamas in Gaza. As a result, the probability that the two largest terror organizations in the strip will initiate an escalation with Israel, before losing the ability to surprise us with a strategic attack, is growing.
Ron Ben-Yishai, YED, 14.01.18
Hamas approaches endgame in Gaza as Israel sharpens its tunnel-elimination prowess
(…) The latest tunnel demolition worsens Hamas’ dilemma on how it should act as Israel gradually deprives it of one of its main offensive assets. (…) As Hamas leader’ would view them, the tunnels are a strategic project in which hundreds of millions of shekels have been invested over nearly a decade, involving thousands of laborers and fighters. And now all this may be going down the drain. (…) Hamas’ decision not to respond to the destruction of the tunnels (…) reflects the trap the organization finds itself in. It’s having a hard time seeing to the economic needs of the 2 million Gazans, it has a poor relationship with Egypt, and implementation of the Hamas-Palestinian Authority reconciliation agreement is sputtering. (…) Israel’s priorities in Gaza are (…) building a barrier along the border to counter the tunnels, while looking for and destroying tunnels that have already been dug. (…) This also comes against the backdrop, according to foreign reports, of Israeli operations against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. In the north, this effort involves going right to the edge, with a relatively high risk of an outbreak of hostilities. Israel must therefore be cautious in calculating its moves so it can keep chalking up successes and avoid a conflagration on both fronts.
Amos Harel, HAA, 15.01.18
4. Selection of Articles
The sick historical precedent for Israel’s asylum-seeker expulsion push
(…) They are non-Jews and blacks, which is really too much. (…) This operation to deport refugees is a co—production of Interior Minister Arye Dery and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. They’ve allotted two years to the mission of expelling 45,000 shvartzes. How shameful! Eichman and his team at the Central Bureau for Jewish Emigration expelled 45,000 Jews in a few months. Dery, Erdan and their team at the Central Bureau for the Emigration of Shvartzes need two years to expel an equal number of people. Oy vey, look how we fall short. (…) Only Ms. History looks at us from above, with a malicious smile on her face as she sees the persecuted become the persecutor, the refugee become the expeller, the uprooted become the uprooter, the oppressed become the oppressor, the beaten become the beater, the trampled become the trampler. “It’s true,” she whispers to herself, “I really am repeating myself. But I find this role reversal exceedingly funny.” I don’t find it funny at all. My parents were expelled from Vienna. My country is desecrating their memory.
Michael, HAA, 11.01.18
Shabbat won’t forgive you, Deri
(…) Let go of it, Aryeh. You’ll receive a much bigger reward for quitting this unnecessary battle. Go for a different move: Establish a national agreement forum for Shabbat in Israel. Go for a joint discourse, a dialogue. Don’t do it aggressively. Shabbat isn’t a political matter. (…) Don’t drive secular Jews away or traditional Jews. (…) this is reasonable advice which will save all of us from another unnecessary front of brotherly hatred. Shabbat won’t forgive you for the damage you’re doing. Let’s make an historic move, together. Let’s convince people of the importance of Shabbat without coercion. Simply because of its value. I know you agree with that. You’ve fallen into a trap dug by others. Grab the rope, climb up and start leading. (…)
Rabbi Shai Piron, YED, 08.01.18
(…) The terrorists who pulled the trigger were acting within a very specific religious and culture climate that is being fostered by an ostensibly moderate Palestinian Authority.(…) the PA claims to oppose use of violence (…) while at the same time rewarding the families of Palestinian terrorists (…) Since the US provides hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the PA every year, American taxpayers are underwriting Palestinian terrorism. (…) The Trump administration is well aware of the absurdity of this situation (…). The time has come to challenge this paradigm. It might seem as though the PA is the only thing preventing complete anarchy in the West Bank and that UNRWA is the only safety net preventing a full-flung humanitarian disaster in Gaza. But it is impossible to know whether Palestinian society is capable of positive change unless it is given a fair chance. Precipitating a budget crisis designed to end the PA’s support for terrorism is risk worth taking. And the same goes for phasing out UNRWA. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 13.01.18
BDS blacklist: Sadly, now might be the time for Jews to boycott Israel
(…) There’s an intriguing irony here. Jewish BDS activists are now barred from visiting. But under Israel’s Law of Return, as Jews, they can still immigrate and even receive financial support from the government for doing so. (…) Those who boycott Israel can be (…) themselves boycotted, which is to say banned from the country they so oppose. (…) At all its ports of entry, Israel does not only gate-keep for its own sovereign territory and its own citizens. Palestinian controlled-areas (…) are still subject to the decisions of Israeli authorities about who gets in – and who gets out. This means that those who want to transform their armchair activism into actual, on-the-ground non-violent study, (…) by actually visiting (…) those they are supposedly standing in solidarity with – are being barred from doing so by Israel. Most chillingly, this means that Palestinians under occupation remain that much more isolated. With this entry-ban law and its strengthening by the publishing of the new list, Israel is effectively turning the screws in the prison of occupation a few notches tighter. This also means that Israel continues to inch away from its self-declared commitment to being a democracy. (…)
Mira Sucharov, HAA, 07.01.18
HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: January 2018
Dr. Werner Puschra,
Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel