“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:
- Third Voting to the Knesset Is Becoming More and More Likely
- Leading Fighter of Islamic Jihad Killed by Israel – Renewed Wave of Violence Between Israel and Gaza
- Displeasure in Israel over ECJ Decision on Products from Settlements
- Selection of Articles
The Arab parties have laid the groundwork for a minority government
(…) Perhaps Blue and White is no longer interested in a unity government with Likud. Perhaps it wants to form a minority government that would rely on the Arab parties and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party in confidence votes (…). Or maybe it is just Gantz being unable to make up their mind. Joint Arab List Chairman Ayman Odeh has seen his popularity rise. (…) he feels like he and the other Arab MKs are no longer outcasts. In fact, the Democratic Union is already all out in favor of a government comprising Arabs and Jews, something that Blue and White officials dare not say out loud. The anti-Netanyahu camp keeps outdoing itself in order to unseat the prime minister. After doing all it can to embrace the prosecutors who have investigated Netanyahu and defended bureaucrats who have abused their powers in order to curtail freedom of expression, it was only a matter of time before the Left would join forces with the parties that reject Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic country. (…) Odeh is clever. He knows that he has finally made inroads into the mainstream of Israeli politics because of the Left’s anti-Netanyahu obsession. (…) Netanyahu has already decided that a third early election is preferable to ditching his right-wing allies or having a power-sharing deal in which he steps down temporarily from the premiership. (…) But if Gantz wants to avoid another election, it is just a matter of time before he makes a concession.
Mati Tuchfeld, IHY, 01.11.19
A center-left minority government is a bad option that can save Israel from itself
(…) A narrow coalition is problematic enough, but a minority government is double the trouble. Such a government might be hard to topple, (…) but it is even more difficult to manage. (…) Never mind the lunacy that will grip the Israeli right if a “leftist government supported by the Arabs” is established. Such was Yitzhak Rabin’s government after Shas left it in September 1993 in the wake of the Oslo Accords, and we all know how that ended, 25 years ago to the day. In fact, hard as it is to believe, in terms of incitement, division and character assassination, the Rabin era seems today like a tranquil Stone Age: It occurred before the spread of social media and before the right permanently abandoned ideology in favor of mongering hate. Nonetheless, despite the double jeopardy of stilted government and mass unrest, a minority government is essential. (…) A minority government would salvage Israeli democracy and the rule of law, both of which are under constant threat by Benjamin Netanyahu and his minions. Every day that passes increases the risk to both. (…) A minority government would extricate Israel’s legal system from a minister bent on destroying it. It would save Israeli culture from another minister who seeks to distort it. It would stem the growing tide of anti-democratic legislation in the Knesset. It would arrest Israel’s steady slide into nationalism, ethnocentrism and racism. It would stop Israel’s transformation into a banana republic built on cult of personality and return it to the fold of liberal democratic countries led by mere mortals. Mainly, it would extricate Netanyahu from the Prime Minister’s Office. (…) a minority government would bring back sanity to Israel’s public arena, at least for a while. (…) A minority government would advance the integration and participation of Israel’s Arab minority. (…)
Chemi Shalev, HAA, 04.11.19
Us and them
(…) Based on all of the signs, the 2020 election campaign has begun and it’s already getting ugly. “Each one [of us] did something today,” wrote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his Facebook page last week, adding a photo of himself posing for a selfie with soldiers, and a photo of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz meeting with Joint List leaders Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi. By posting this, Netanyahu tried to deliver a message: I am with you, the people, the soldiers; but Gantz, he is with them. Obviously, Netanyahu cannot explicitly say that the Arabs of Israel, who constitute some 20% of the country’s population, are enemies. (…) Tibi and Odeh – are also the elected representatives of 20% of our country, whether we like it or not. (…) we can try to simplify things, color everything in black and white, good or bad, us and them, and find the lowest common ground with the voter to sow hate and fear; or we can understand that the reality is complicated and that it has different shades and colors. We can understand that by finding common ground and tackling issues that matter to the entire society, we can bridge the gaps. Odeh and Tibi (…) made a historic declaration, saying that they would like to take part, or at least support, a government in Israel. That was a landmark in the relations of Jews and Arabs in Israel; and, most of all, it proved that reality can change, even in small steps. Whether he will be able to form a coalition or not, Gantz was right to meet with the Arab leaders and even post a photo from the meeting. By doing so, he said: there is no us and them, we are all citizens of the same country. (…) Whether we are going to a third round of elections or not, we need courageous leadership that will know how to integrate Arabs and work to make 20% of Israelis feel they belong, with the concomitant responsibilities and privileges. And who knows? Maybe these small but necessary steps will bring us closer to peace.
Editorial, JPO, 06.11.19
Hurry up Liberman, it’s time
(…) Avigdor Liberman must make a decision. If not for our sakes, then for his own. (…) This is no longer a drill, this is a five-alarm situation. (…) The slowly growing tension on the borders needs a real solution, not down the barrel of a gun, as do problems in day-to-day life.(…) And let us not forget the cumulative national debt and the looming across-the-board budget cuts about to fall on us. In short, this was the week that showed our officials need to take action. There has been enough talk. (…) If Liberman joins with Likud to form a coalition, he will find himself in a narrow right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox, who really, really, really do not like him. (…) If he joins the center-left bloc, he will find himself – to put it mildly – depending on the votes of Arabs who only yesterday he thought best to leave in their place, let’s call it Umm al-Fahm, and then gently shove it into the hands of the Palestinian Authority. (…) If only a miracle could happen and Likud and White and Blue form a unity government, as he demanded. This would be wonderful. But, with all due respect, who exactly would need him in a unity government of 65 MKs with the paltry seven friends he can bring to the table along with a pile of demands. (…) Ironically, Liberman is so convinced that Israel needs this marriage of convenience that he would even throw confetti should he not be invited to join the wedding party. But what if we end up with a third round of elections in a year? (…) I am having trouble seeing who exactly would vote for the man who has made such a great contribution to this never-ending exercise in democracy. The situation is indeed difficult, but this is precisely why it needs a decision from Liberman to put an end to this drawn-out political farce. He just needs to pick a side.
Ariela Ringel Hoffman, YED, 09.11.19
It’s only fitting that the Israeli politician most responsible for the two elections held this year and the third that seems on the way is the same person who is offering a solution to the political deadlock Israel is currently in. (…) Insisting that a unity government is the only possible outcome that will stop a third election and prevent the country from further turmoil, Liberman demanded that both Netanyahu and Gantz move toward one other. (…) Liberman’s (…) condition puts the ball in Netanyahu’s court. The prime minister has been bullish about not forgoing his 55-seat bloc of religious and right-wing parties, including Shas, United Torah Judaism and parts of Bayit Yehudi – an entity Liberman has coined the “haredi-messianic” bloc. Keeping the bloc intact is preventing the formation of a coalition government. Blue and White has demanded that Likud first negotiate the outline of the new government with it and only then add additional parties. But it also gives Netanyahu a security blanket as he struggles to stay in power ahead of his expected indictment. (…) if Netanyahu acquiesces to Liberman and gives up on his right-wing bloc, his only option to remain in power is a unity government. On the other hand, if Netanyahu stays with the bloc, and Liberman makes good on his threat to support Blue and White, it means he would be supporting a minority government with the backing of the Joint List of Arab parties. Liberman’s ultimatum didn’t seem to sit too well with either Netanyahu nor Gantz (…) as the specter of a third election looms with Gantz’s mandate to form a coalition running out of time next week, the Yisrael Beytenu leader’s plan seems to be the logical and plausible route to take to get the government and country back on track.
Editorial, JPO, 11.11.19
2. Leading Fighter of Islamic Jihad Killed by Israel – Renewed Wave of Violence Between Israel and Gaza
The greatest gift Benny Gantz could give Gaza’s Iran-backed Islamic Jihad
(…) Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, surprised nobody when they declared Israel should respond by returning to the policy of targeted killings of prominent Palestinian militant leaders. Islamic Jihad’s actions go against the tide of public opinion in Gaza, whose long-suffering population has no interest in provoking another round of ruinous conflict with Israel. But the greatest gift Israel could bestow on Islamic Jihad, mainstreaming what is right now a peripheral position, would be to reinstate its assassination policy. (…) Islamic Jihad’s escalation was not widely welcomed in Gaza. (…) Islamic Jihad wants to make clear it is now capable of independent action without Hamas’ prior approval, but more than that: it controls the rhythm of life in Gaza – one day status quo, one day escalation. (…) Kahol Lavan leaders (…) opportunistically attacked Netanyahu’s “surrender policy” of buying Gaza’s silence with the meager and tentative easing of the blockade. They suggested an even worse alternative: Applying greater force in Gaza to “restore deterrence,” including reinstating assassinations. The ultimate expression of macho futility: if you bang your head against the wall and it doesn’t fall, bang harder. Calls for assassinations might satisfy an angry base, but it’s a proven recipe for disaster. (…) If resumed, Israel’s policy of assassinations in Gaza would only unleash the pent-up fury of Gaza’s siege and status quo. And it would give legitimacy for armed groups to retaliate at will with heavier and more serious attacks. On the other hand, Netanyahu’s approach of managing the crisis, instead of advancing curative solutions, has proven largely ineffective. Tentative easing measures fall like a drop in an ocean of endemic problems emanating from the decade-long blockade. (…) it’s time for Israel’s next leader to address Gaza’s crises with more sustainable solutions – ones that lead to dismantling the blockade. (…).
Muhammad Shehada, HAA, 05.11.19
An election season of Gaza violence
(…) Deterrence is a concept related to an unconventional arms race, and that is where it should stay. The calm lasted because the terrorist army, namely Hamas, had an interest in preserving it. Israel has demonstrated its willingness to implement what Hamas sees as its commitments for the ceasefire between the two sides. There have been positive developments in the form of a field hospital established in northern Gaza, site visits with the aim of setting up the new electricity line for the Strip, and other steps to ease economic depravations. But direct or indirect discussions between Israel and Hamas apparently became bogged down in the past week, and so Hamas made sure that someone sent Israel a message of dissatisfaction. Now, with the elections on the horizon, demands from Israel will only increase. But Hamas also has a base that it relies on, and so the likelihood increases of more and more clashes along the Gaza border fence. As in Israel, there is a chance that this behavior will run contrary to the will of the Palestinian public. In Israel there are always elections, but on the Palestinian side, Hamas and Fatah will ultimately be unable to reach an agreement on voting. In the meantime, there will be populist rage on the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, which could lead to a military confrontation.
Alex Fishman, YED, 05.11.19
The Controlled War with Gaza
(…) There is a controlled war being waged. (…) The fact there is not more serious escalation, at least initially, is puzzling. (…) The controlled reaction seemingly shows that other actors (…) are calling the shots. They are able to have enough sway to largely keep the situation in check. One is only to remember the death of Hamas Leader Jabari and the weeklong escalation that it precipitated. So far, after a few hours, a relative lull has been restored. What is important to note is not how long the lull will last but that the rocket fire, both range and amount, is being controlled. (…) the real player on the other side is (…) Iran. The final say over how much escalation will take place, will be decided in Tehran. Through their forces throughout the Middle East, they could unleash a devastating war on Israel with hundreds of thousands of missiles if they wanted to. However, for their own calculations, the timing is simply not right. Like a seasoned chess player, they are moving their pieces slowly, waiting for the opportune moment to unleash hell. Abu-Ata and his colleague in Damascus were important to Iran, but not all important. They have so far demonstrated an impressive ability to control the situation. Nevertheless, let´s not be fooled by the puppet master. They have also failed to respond to the hundreds of attacks on its forces in Syria and Iraq. The situation as we see it is an illusion. When they will decide, the real war will begin.
Gil Lewinsky. TOI, 12.11.19
A test for deterrence
Islamic Jihad terrorist Baha Abu al-Ata was not meant to be long for this world. Al-Ata has been a major thorn in Israel’s side for a very long time and as such he was on the IDF’s most-wanted list. (…) He went rogue, pursuing independent, aggressive offensives, more often than not without any cause or provocation. Hamas, Qatar, and the regional EU and UN envoys all tried to talk some sense into him, but to no avail. (…) Trying to deal with this archterrorist while preventing an escalation, Israel opted for deterrence first. (…) As expected, his elimination triggered a hysterical backlash from Islamic Jihad, which fired over 200 rockets at central and southern Israel. The IDF saw this coming and as soon as the plan to target al-Ata was approved it bolstered the deployment of Iron Dome batteries in key areas. This has mitigated much of Islamic Jihad’s unbridled response, as the trusty defense system intercepted over half of the projectiles aimed at residential areas. (…) Israel’s response to the barrage has been measured, both making the point that it will not tolerate rocket fire on civilians and avoiding deteriorating the situation further vis-à-vis Hamas. So far, Gaza’s rulers have refrained from joining the fray (…) Hamas is heavily invested in the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire talks and its efforts to resolve the dire economic crisis in Gaza. Its leaders know that provoking another war with Israel will spell utter ruin for the Strip – and maybe even topple its rule. (…) If Hamas remains on the sidelines and if it manages to rein in jihad activists seeking to avenge al-Ata, then the calm, such as it is, on the Israel-Gaza could be restored. If not, escalation is in the cards. (…) If Hamas does not join the fighting and Islamic Jihad be rendered damaged over the loss of its leader, then the mission was accomplished (…).
Yoav Limor, IHY, 13.11.19
Islamic Jihad’s war of attrition
It seems the leadership of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization snapped out of the state of confusion induced by the elimination of its military commander Baha Abu al-Ata (…). Islamic Jihad opted to wear Israel down by forcing it to shutter its education system and disrupting the economy in at least half of the country. This did not just mean the loss of billions in revenue, but it also undermined the sense of security, morale and mental strength of Israel’s citizens (…). By attacking in this manner, Islamic Jihad was trying to drag Hamas into the conflict, because it knew that the longer the confrontation lasts, the more likely the IDF was to make a mistake, accidently striking Hamas personnel or facilities, forcing it to join the fight despite pleas from Egypt and threats from Qatar. (…) Islamic Jihad’s strategy of attrition and the measured attacks on Israel stemmed from the fact that although the organization has thousands of rockets at its disposal, only very few of them are long range, and so it tried to use its munitions lightly so as to conduct a lengthy campaign. Both the IDF and the Shin Bet security service were aware of this strategy and were both working to shorten the round of violence and the accompanying disruption to the everyday lives of Israeli citizens. (…) The IDF was extremely careful in its efforts not to harm either any innocents or Hamas compounds or symbols of its rule over the Strip – not for humanitarian reasons, but rather due to a strategic decision not to touch the organization.
It worked and Hamas did stay out of it (…) because Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar didn’t want to abandon the agreement they made with Israel, the money they get from Qatar, the American hospital being built in the Strip, or the chance for a Gaza seaport, simply to avenge the death of a reckless Islamic Jihad commander. (…) Islamic Jihad is very sensitive when it comes to attacks on its leadership and functional hierarchy, so the elimination of Abu al-Ata was a harsh blow (…). Israeli must acknowledge that the enemies of the State of Israel (…) have not given up on the desire to wipe it off the map, and that they too have talented, motivated and dangerous people. And if normal service was suspended for a few days, it was a perfectly reasonable price to pay for the restoration of deterrence that gives Israel longer and better periods of calm between rounds of fighting that are yet to come.
Ron Ben-Yishai, YED, 14.11.19
Beyond the red alert
(…) Beyond the red alert, the blaring sirens should serve to remind us that the unacceptable, multi-year routine of the many individuals, families and communities along the Gaza border is, in fact, a reality for us all. (…) The trauma and post-trauma of children, parents, teachers and mental health providers are exacerbated with every blaring siren. (…) Beyond the red alert (…), the blaring sirens must serve to deepen our comprehension of Israel and its people. They offer insights into the spectrum between complacency and panic in Israel, which should be understood differently than in countries not under constant threat. (…) Beyond the red alert, the expected unconditional support for the IDF and security infrastructure, for a precise operation, surgically targeting an arch-terrorist directly responsible for multiple attacks on civilians; acknowledgment of the near-impossible self-applied ethics guiding it; and commendation of brave civilians under paralyzing threat for having the longevity of breath to keep an appearance of calm, is met with local and international duplicity, which must be exposed and condemned. (…) Beyond the red alert, the blaring sirens must serve as a wake-up call for the institution founded on the ashes of the Holocaust, the culmination of a well-planned and implemented process of delegitimization, dehumanization and double-standard, toward a vulnerable community. In response to what was possibly the darkest chapter of human history, the very institutions founded on the ashes of “never again” are silent witnesses and enablers of “again and again.” (…)
Michal Cotler-Wunsh, JPO, 14.11.19
Israel and the war of deterrence
I’ve never liked the word “deterrence.” It sounds so dry and lifeless compared to the dramatic idea it signifies, which is: “I’m scared as hell to attack you because of what you may do to me.” The proper dictionary definition is: “The act of discouraging an action or event through instilling doubt or fear of the consequences.” For decades, Israel (…) for all the power of deterrence, it can only go so far. Suicide bombers, for example, are impossible to deter as they’re more than willing to give up their lives to kill you. (…) When so many rockets are falling on Israel, as they are now, and much of the population is on edge, keenly aware of the nearest bomb shelter, the question that inevitably hangs in the air is: (…) Can’t we deter them? Ironically, this latest wave of rockets from Gaza came in the wake of a targeted attempt at deterrence – the killing of a PIJ terrorist leader who sends others to their deaths but who himself would prefer to live. By targeting leaders who make war decisions, this thinking goes, maybe other leaders will be deterred. (…) deterrence works both ways. The terrorist leaders who are retaliating with rockets also want to deter Israel from killing more of them, so they are trying to establish their own “consequences.” They know that an Israeli society terrified of incoming rockets is a serious consequence. (…) If there needs to be a fear of consequences in the region, let it be among those for whom murdering Jews and destroying Israel is a holy and lifetime mission.
David Suissa, IHY, 14.11.19
European Court of Justice courts BDS
(…) The main thrust of the judgment (…) is to enable a boycott of those wines as well as other grown, produced and manufactured foodstuffs and items in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley and parts of Jerusalem (…). Veiled by humanitarian concern for freedom of information and in taking a stand that there is illegality in the existence of the “settlements,” the European Union has now redoubled its political efforts to ethnically cleanse the heart of the Jewish homeland of Jews. (…) Israel legally maintains a belligerent occupation – that is, one whose origin is as a result of hostilities. (…) To label the wine as made in “Judea” or “Binyamin” or “Samaria” should suffice. (…) the court insists that its judgment is intended “to prevent consumers from being misled as to the fact that the State of Israel is present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity.” But Israel does exercise its legal sovereign power in being the legitimate occupier of those areas in accordance with international law. Occupation per se is not necessarily illegal. (…) Why not initiate direct marketing to Europe, (…) Internet sales. It could be, facetiously but advantageously, marketed as “The Wine Banned By Brussels.” It would tell the consumer that the EU bureaucracy wants to prevent him from making quality purchases based on a political outlook. As a friend suggested, for Judea and Samaria-friendly people, “the EU wants you not to purchase this wine because they are made by Jews in places the EU forbids Jews to live.” Jews are by right in Judea and Samaria. (…) Our presence there post-1967 is a result of Arab terror and aggression. It is our right to be Judea and Samaria and to grow grapes and dates and everything else we can grow and produce and manufacture there. And we will continue to so do.
Yisrael Medad, IHY, 14.11.19
Don’t label Israeli settlement products. Ban them
(…) The main reason why many believe that the two-state solution is no longer possible is because of Israel’s colonial settlements, a systematic Israeli policy since 1967. This policy is founded on the constant creation of facts on the ground, aimed at its irreversibility. It is designed to make it impossible for the people of Palestine to exercise their inalienable rights, notably our right to self-determination. That aim has been understood by most international bodies (…) But the question remains: What happens after such solid legal arguments against Israeli settlements? What did the international community do? Very little. Few policies aimed at the settlements have been implemented, despite clear and firm international resolutions. (…) today, the number of settlers has almost tripled compared to the beginning of the peace process. Does that mean that the two-state solution is impossible? No. It means that it is more difficult to achieve. (…) settlements must be turned into a burden for Israel and its supporters. (…) That is why the decision of the European Union Court of Justice regarding the labeling of Israeli settlement products is an important step. It reiterates the international obligation of differentiation between Israel and the territory it occupies, as laid out in UN Security Council resolution 2334. Still, we believe that settlement products shouldn’t just be labelled, but banned. There is nothing ethical in trading in products made with stolen natural resources on stolen land. (…)
Saeb Erekat, HAA, 14.11.19
Our European ‘friends’
The European Court of Justice’s ruling to label goods produced in Judea and Samaria is nothing short of an anti-Semitic bombshell. (…) Israeli lawyers noted at the time that the European demand for discriminatory labels violated international trade law, but this made no impression on European decisionmakers. (…) The EU’s policy towards Israel has been clear for a very long time. For decades, the EU has been waging a hostile campaign against Israel. The goals of its campaign are to call Israel’s right to exist into question, weaken Israel economically and politically, and strengthen Israel’s enemies at Israel’s expense. The EU wages its campaign through political, diplomatic and economic warfare. (…) As for Europe’s support for Israel’s enemies, led by Germany, the EU refuses to walk away from the nuclear deal with Iran, or reinstate economic sanctions against Iran in light of its open material breaches of the limitations the nuclear deal placed on its nuclear activities. So too, led by Germany, the EU refuses to designate all arms of Hezbollah as a terror group. (…) The verdict – like the EU’s legally unsupported claim that Israeli “settlements” built beyond the Green Line are illegal – (…) is very specific. It applies only to Israel. The ECJ’s ruling will not be applied on behalf of vegans and Tibetans. Everyone knows it was directed against Israel and its Jewish citizens alone. The verdict was political, not legal. (…)
Caroline B. Glick, IHY, 15.11.19
Shame on Europe
(…) The European Union’s Court of Justice (…) decision is an outrage for a number of reasons. First, it came while half of Israel was shut down due to the threat of rockets launched by terrorists into civilian populations. A modicum of consideration would have been appreciated at this time. (…) There is no denying that the European Union is engaging in a double standard toward Israel as opposed to other territories. There is no similar labeling mandate for other areas under territorial conflict, like Tibet, Northern Cyprus or Western Sahara (…). In fact, rather than singling out their products, the EU even has an agreement with Morocco allowing European boats to fish in territorial waters off Western Sahara. (…) Europeans have a long history of telling Jews where they can – and more often, can’t – live, and with whom they can do business, going back centuries. Labeling products from Judea and Samaria will encourage boycotts, something Jews were subjected to in the darkest period of Europe’s history. (…) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that, for him to reach an accord with Israel, the West Bank will have to be “free of settlers,” meaning Israeli Jews. Europe allows free passage and even residence of citizens of one state into another, but its courts think that Jew-free areas are an acceptable concept in other parts of the world. (…) Requiring labeling of Israeli products made in the Golan makes no sense. Let’s say Israel would want to give the Golan to somebody: who would the EU recommend? The brutal Syrian leader Bashar Assad, who has murdered more than half a million of his people in this long civil war? Or would Europe prefer ISIS, Iran or maybe Russia? Israel’s control over the Golan helps keep Israel secure and prevents a larger conflict that could erupt and engulf the Middle East. The failure to recognize this simple fact is not just ignorance. It is a lie. And then there is east Jerusalem. Basically, what the EU is saying is that if a menorah is made in the Old City and then exported for sale to Paris, it would need to be labeled. The capital of the Jewish people for three thousand years and its connection to the Jewish people is put into question. This is ridiculous. (…) Europe should be ashamed.
Editorial, JPO, 15.11.19
Yitzhak Rabin: in memoriam
(…) The warrior, former head of the IDF (…) Yitzhak Rabin set out to change Israel’s national priorities. He was no dove. He did not participate in the Oslo Accord signing because he was a left-wing ideologue, nor did he sign the agreement lightly. He did so based on solid reasoning and a broad strategic view. He was a pragmatic man who could read the map, identify opportunities and make tough decisions. He understood that the PLO was growing weaker, and that unless he sought agreement with that organization, he would face a tougher alternative – Hamas. He also understood Israel’s changing circumstances following the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and dismantling of the Soviet bloc. Rabin assessed that this was an opportunity to try to resolve the conflicts with Israel’s immediate neighbors so that when the time came, Israel would be able to face its harshest and most dangerous enemies – Iraq and Iran. He was thoroughly aware of the hurdles he would have to face on the path he had chosen, the crises, the disappointments – but he had decided that he would leave our children and grandchildren a different kind of world, one of hope and normalcy. (…) the world opened up to us, (…) states which did not even recognize us changed their position (…). He also managed to make the old dream of peace with Jordan a reality. The Middle East began opening up to us (…). Rabin the soldier fought tenaciously against terrorism. (…) Yitzhak Rabin was a modest man, often introverted, but also sure of himself; a man who did not like small talk and had no patience for fools and liars, for sycophants and fear-mongers. The red-headed prime minister spoke his mind, sometimes bluntly. In this sense, he was not blessed with diplomatic skills. But it was his direct style, his deep voice and shy mien that won the hearts of many. In these days of determined attempts to undermine the state’s gatekeepers and institutions, it is important to remember Rabin’s respect for democracy and the rule of law, even when it concerned his personal life. Let us remember his desire to place the citizens at the top of the government’s priorities, his actions in support of civil equality, his attitude toward the Arab citizens in whom he saw partners, and the real actions he took to rectify past injustices. Rabin, the man with the analytic mind, had well-defined, firm views, but he knew how to adapt himself when necessity dictated. Rabin knew how to dream and how to make his dreams come true. For him, the essence of Zionism was to establish a safe haven for the Jewish people. (…) Rabin’s legacy is of integrity and modesty, courageous leadership, respect for democracy and civil rights and the vision of peace. And above all, a life of hope.
Colette Avital, JPO, 14.11.19
Minister of Justice Supports Netanyahu Against Police and Prosecutors
Let the country burn
After pouring a jerrican of gasoline on the police and prosecutors, after handing burning torches to the ministers in charge of the legal system and police, and after signaling them to come out against the organizations they’re responsible for, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu volunteered — without a drop of shame — to put out the fire that he himself set. The pyromaniac in the prime minister’s residence is now the responsible adult flying solo in his supertanker through Israel’s skies on his national firefighting mission. (…) The final years of Netanyahu’s rule have become a sort of social experiment; they’re reminiscent of the film “The Wave” that Israelis once had to watch in school. (…) Like the students in the experiment, I could almost hear Justice Minister Amir Ohana muttering “strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action, strength through pride.” In his Likud party, the same as in Palo Alto, the experiment is the finest hour of stool pigeons, lackeys and the spineless. Ohana is the poster boy of the social experiment: gay and a Mizrahi Jew, his hand didn’t tremble when in the so-called nation-state law he erased the entry on equality — the section that paved the way for someone from his background to reach the centers of power and the heart of the consensus. Now that he has been accepted into the majority group, he has slammed the door on equality for those next in line — and why should he care about the minorities aspiring to equality? A servant when he reigneth. Unfortunately none of this is an experiment. What can a country do when cabinet members are accusing the police and prosecutors of framing people and sound like the protesters calling Israel a police state? What we have here is a dangerous reversal of roles. After all, these cries are reserved for the little people suffering under the strong arm of the government and the system of law enforcement. (…)
Carolina Landsmann, HAA, 10.11.19
HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: November, 2019.
Dr Paul Pasch,
Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel