Israel needs your prayers. See to the end.
It is no surprise, that I am posting again before Pesach.
First, because I must report another terror attack – a car ramming. Three soldiers, working to secure the road from rock-throwers, were hit by a vehicle that had accelerated as it approached them. This was near the village of Beit Ummar, in Gush Etzion, northwest of Hevron. This picture is of the IDF vehicle that was rammed.
One soldier was lightly injured and has already been released from the hospital. A second was moderately injured, and the third is in serious condition.
The terrorist was shot dead. But please note this carefully: He was an officer in the Palestinian Authority security services, from the village of Surif, not far from where he attacked.
And then, an update on our current abysmal political situation.
On Saturday night, the demonstrators were out in large numbers, in spite of the fact that the government had agreed to negotiations. Attempts to achieve compromises will not succeed when offered to those who want it all.
The picture below is from Tel Aviv, taken on Saturday night. It should be seen by everyone.
Look at the sign: ”Haven’t the Jewish people suffered enough?” Dramatic. But meaningless. The bearer of that sign probably thought he was clever but has not a clue as to what he is demonstrating for.
More important, please note the picture of Che Guevera on the red flag. Che was a Marxist revolutionary, active in the Cuban revolution. Long gone, he is now a counterculture symbol of rebellion.
A revolutionary symbol of rebellion.
I would not dream of painting all of the demonstrators with the same brush. Some, while misinformed about the effects of the judicial reform, sincerely believe that the legislation is harmful to democracy. They are convinced that they are acting in the interests of Israel.
Others are out there because of anti-Bibi sentiment, or because they are eager to see the ideology of the left sustained even though the right won the election.
But those who embrace Che? Be sure, my friends, that they are NOT interested in improving Israeli democracy. Their goal is to take down the government. This applies to some who are not followers of Che, as well: Didn’t Ehud Barak declare intentions to take down the government?
The Movement for Quality Government (MQG) is another part of this problem today. A far-left progressive group that is eager to re-make Israeli society, it receives funding from abroad including from the State Department. MQG has been one of the major promoters/organizers of the demonstrations.
According to the Jpost, on Saturday night MQG representative Eliad Shraga declared that “the protesters were making it clear to the coalition what their demands were, and that they would not negotiate with ‘criminals, anarchists and terrorists.’…We will never compromise on our liberal democratic values.’”
What the protesters’ demands were? But they are not negotiating. We are being told that unrest in the streets will continue, perhaps indefinitely. They are promoting an unstable environment.
So, they are not the ones negotiating, but this might very well be a negotiating tactic nonetheless. Render the situation unstable and promote the prospect that this will continue indefinitely. This will “encourage” the government to offer further concessions.
Definitely not the way of democracy.
President Herzog has been meeting with negotiating teams regarding process and procedure, but it does not appear that they are yet dealing with substantive legislative content. He speaks in optimistic terms about the attitude he is encountering in these meetings. Do not, I caution you, do not put much stock in this. Not surprisingly, senior coalition officials are expressing pessimism. Netanyahu (second from right) made a reasonably promising statement at the beginning of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, but I take that as a political statement: see, I was not foolish for delaying the legislation, as there is hope of reaching an agreement.
There has been an exasperating lack of clarity with regard to several matters.
I have not been able to secure definitive information on all of the negotiating teams. Shortly after the legislation was halted, several teams were mentioned in news reports. But, while the opposition parties had separate teams, all that was mentioned for the coalition was Likud. Where were the teams for Religious Zionists, and for Otzma Yehudit? For the two ultra-Orthodox parties?
At one point, Simcha Rothman (RZ) said his party would not have a negotiating team, presumably because they wished the legislation to stand as it was submitted. It should be noted that Rothman, working with Yariv Levin, unilaterally made alterations to the legislation to soften it in response to left-wing criticism before it was submitted.
Very recently I heard that a RZ team would be meeting with Herzog, but to what end I do not know.
On the right within the electorate, I have sensed frustration because of considerable silence on the part of right-wing leaders: there is a hunger for a clear retort to the fact that the demonstrators did not quit even though the legislation was stopped. But I suspect to a large degree it was thought pointless: Let them carry on, and then we will move forward.
And hopefully, that is how it will be…
When the legislation was stopped, it was said that the summer session of the Knesset would begin in July. Now I’ve learned something else, and it feels like perhaps there is light at the end of this tunnel.
A couple of times I have read comments from members of the coalition indicating just what I spoke of above: Let the opposition talk, if they don’t come to an agreement with us, we’re going to pass the legislation, and soon. The bill is in place in the Knesset and can be passed in a day.
The latest to make such a comment, and the one who received the most press in this regard, is Transportation Minister Miri Regev (Likud), speaking to the Likud publication Melukadim yesterday (emphasis added).
“Throughout this whole process, we called for dialogue and there was no response. Now, the prime minister has made a leadership decision for the unity of the people and suspended legislation until the next session.”
“A Likud delegation has already been appointed to negotiate with the other side. The negotiation team will see if there is a willingness for reasonable agreements that will meet the voters’ expectations.
“As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, the reform was only put on [temporary] hold and there is a [known] date for the next session – immediately after Independence Day [Yom Ha’atzmaut] we are continuing with the legislation…
“Netanyahu paused [legislation] to allow for negotiation, but if there will be none, we will bring it for reconfirmation.”
“The prime minister repeated throughout the process that the reform is a commitment to bring balance between the three [branches of government]…
“Contrary to everything that is being said about [the judicial reform] on the propaganda channels, the reform is designed to strengthen the public’s trust in the judicial system.”
After I read Regev’s comment about the known date of the next (summer) session of the Knesset, I made some inquiries and have learned that it begins with May. That does not mean it will be in session every day in May. But only one day is needed.
Fervently do I hope this will come to pass, but I am well aware of the chaos that will likely ensue when the opposition claims that there were good negotiations progressing and the government cut them off.
Let me briefly touch upon a handful of issues here, with much more to follow next week.
 The question of whether Yoav Gallant will remain Minister of Defense is hanging in the air. I say “remain” because he was never officially fired even though Netanyahu declared him fired. An official letter was not sent.
There is pressure on the prime minister to relent and allow Gallant to remain in his position; Netanyahu is demanding an apology from Gallant for calling publicly for a halt to the legislation. Gallant is apparently only prepared to apology for the timing of his statement.
And now there are claims of security issues involved. This is a “wait and see” situation.
 The Israeli Cabinet voted Sunday to approve the establishment of the Israel National Guard, as part of the National Security Ministry, under Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit).”
This is very good news. See details here:
 “Air Force Commander General Tomer Bar recently informed senior Air Force officials that he intends to change his forgiving treatment of pilots who refuse to show up for their routine training over their objection to the judicial reform. Bar ordered his brass that in the event that the pilots announce again that they are not ready to report for duty, sanctions will be imposed on them and they may be dismissed from operational activity. Bar stressed that it’s not possible to participate in an operational activity if you are absent from the training.”
It is customary for me to provide a video of Vehi She’amda arranged by Yonaton Razel before Pesach. But this year I decided that something else was more appropriate: Prayer for the peace of the State of Israel. Tfila l’shalom HaMedinat Yisrael. Sung by the wonderful Shai Abramson, former chief cantor of the IDF.
Pray for us, my friends. And may your holiday be one of joy and great meaning.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.