The world is in horrendous shape. And yet, yet the focus is on us, here in Israel.
Now we are confronting widespread hysteria because our Minister of Public Security spent 13 minutes on Har Habayit. Thirteen quiet minutes. He didn’t announce the time when he would ascend so that the media could flock. He didn’t pray. He didn’t accost any Arabs. And as Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan pointed out, he entered via the only gate permitted to non-Muslims, at a time during which Jewish visitation is permitted (a sad commentary in-and-of itself – that there should be only limited times for Jews).
Yet this required a special UN Security Council session. Apparently we are a major threat to world peace.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said it right when he called the Biden Administration’s policies on Israel a “pathological obsession.”
Commentator Melanie Phillips said the international response was “unhinged,” which is another way of framing it.
It is essential that we continue to make our case in all possible venues, but it is obvious that we will not defeat the venom directed against us using reason.
I hear declarations about how the Israeli presence in Judea & Samaria is “against international law,” and I pause and say, Wait, do they not know about the Mandate for Palestine? It was very clearly an historic article of international law. But were I to point this out, I would be summarily dismissed by those making these claims. For the pathology we are confronting is linked to the oldest hatred in the world and Israel is treated as is no other state.
Everyone seems to believe they have license to tell us what to do. Attorney Alan Dershowitz, often a firm friend of Israel, has now declared that judicial reforms proposed by Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) – about which more below — will make it more difficult to defend Israel. As they say, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
It would be a grievous error to adjust our policies in order to make it easier for friends to defend us. Down that path lies destruction of our integrity and our sovereignty. That is the way the former Bennett-Lapid government was taking us.
Our present government is going to continue to be confronted by critiques and animosity because we are out of step with much of the progressive Western world – and for this I thank Heaven. We elected a right-wing government. Shocking, isn’t it?
We are handling matters well in several regards.
First, we are fighting back against the Palestinian Authority, a major instigator of world criticism. On Thursday, the Security Cabinet met for the first time to decide upon responses to the PA’s lawfare.
A primary focus was the request by the PA last week for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the legitimacy of Israel’s “occupation” of Judea & Samaria (aka the West Bank). The UN General Assembly voted on this request a week ago on Shabbat (not an accident, as it prevented participation by Israel) and then moved to officially petition the ICJ.
The Cabinet decided to:
 Transfer approximately 139 million NIS – from taxes or custom payments collected for the PA – to victims of terror.
 Offset payments made by the PA to terrorists and their families.
 Place a moratorium on all PA building in Area C.
 Deny benefits to VIPs who are leading the political and legal war against Israel.
 Act against organizations in Judea & Samaria that promote terrorist activity, or any hostile activity including political and legal activity against Israel under the guise of humanitarian work.
This last item will cause a furor in the international community. There are many NGOs that are ostensibly human rights organizations but whose agenda is the weakening of Israel.
As positive as these steps are, I note that most of them either should have been enacted earlier or were supposed to have been enacted. It is my fervent hope that the current government will see these matters through.
Among the 11 members of the Security Cabinet are Defense Minister Yoav Galant, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, and Justice Minister Yariv Levin, all of Likud, as well as Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of Religious Zionist Party and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of Otzma Yehudit. We see here some no-nonsense people who would be expected to provide backbone to these decisions. Various security officials from Military Intelligence, the Mossad, Shin Bet, etc. participate in these meetings.
Said Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Friday: “The series of measures that Israel decided upon are intended to make it clear that Israel will exact a price for any attempt to harm Israel in the international arena.”
Last Thursday, Public Security Minister Ben Gvir went to check renovations at the high-security Nafha Prison; his interest was in the holding conditions for Palestinian Arab prisoners jailed for security offenses.
“I came, said Ben Gvir, “to ensure that the murderers of Jews are not getting better conditions as a result of the construction of new cells, and I was glad to see that the Israel Prison Service does not intend to improve their holding conditions…I will continue to handle the holding conditions of security prisoners so that they do not get any added benefits.”
I love it! This may seem a small thing, but it most decidedly is not. Many is the time I have felt sick to my stomach when learning about the incredible perks the prison service has accorded convicted terrorists. The philosophy has been that it’s easier to keep them quiet this way. Discontented, the prisoners not only riot, they send messages to the outside to additionally stir things up. It has been a serious and painful question as to who was actually in charge.
Well, there’s a new sheriff in town now. And his message is definitely not a small thing.
We can be certain that the message has been received because a spokesman for Hamas declared that what Ben Gvir was doing was “a dangerous escalation” intended “to oppress the prisoners and to tighten their suffocating conditions. It’s unprecedented criminal behavior toward them.”
Karim Younis, an Arab-Israeli terrorist who had served a long sentence for the murder of an IDF officer was just released from prison last week. On his return to the northern Israeli town of Ar’ara, he received a hero’s welcome. And so, on Sunday, Ben Gvir instructed Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to open a probe into what he views as internal failures that allowed such a public celebration to be held.
Said Ben Gvir: “[These] are celebrations of incitement and explicit support for terrorism, and it’s unacceptable for such events to happen in our home. The State of Israel has no place for [them].”
Three PA officials who participated in the celebrations have now had their permits to enter Israel revoked, on order of Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant. One of them was an assistant to Mahmoud Abbas (our “peace partner”).
Ben Gvir has also ordered the police to enforce an existing ban on the flying of the Palestinian flag in solidarity with terrorists. Such flags were flown in the celebration in Ar’ara.
And the Knesset is fast-tracking legislation that would permit the revocation of citizenship or residency from convicted terrorists who are receiving payment from the Palestinian Authority for their terrorist acts.
MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party), who is chair of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, drafted the legislation in cooperation with Likud associates. He said (emphasis added):
“For years we’ve become accustomed to having an entity [the Palestinian Authority] receive funding from the State of Israel while it maintains an official price list: ‘Murdered a Jew? Here’s a stipend. And if you’re an Israeli citizen, you’ll get more, depending on how many people you’ve killed.’
“The bare minimum we can do as a moral country is to revoke their citizenship and residency.”
There will be an uproar from Israeli Arabs in the Knesset, but it should be noted that among the nations that have legislation allowing revocation of citizenship of those engaging in terrorism are Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. In July, the Supreme Court ruled that Israel can revoke the citizenship of convicted terrorists even if they have no other citizenship.
Sadly, it is not just the international community that is hysterical about the “dangers” of our new government, it is some of the members of our opposition, none behaving more despicably than head of the opposition Yair Lapid (head of Yesh Atid).
He has declared intention of going to the US to rally Jewish groups to “bring down this terrible government.”
This is totally unacceptable on two counts. First, because there is an unwritten understanding that Israeli officials do not criticize the government abroad. And then because Jewish groups abroad – or any groups abroad – have absolutely no right to meddle in our electoral process. And Lapid has the gall to speak about democracy. For lefties, democracy is what suits them.
I was going to advise readers about constructive ways to respond to him. But, in spite of his bluster, it is not clear he will really go. And so I alert you now and will follow with more if it is definite that he intends to follow through on his threat.
What I ask, please, is that if you have information about a definite, scheduled event with Lapid sponsored by a synagogue or Jewish organization in the US, you let me know. Do not write to me about vague references to his possibly coming soon.
I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and given much reason for celebration.
I had hoped to look at additional important ways in which our government is moving ahead with reforms and legislation. But I have decided to deal with these matters in my next posting, so that I can do justice to them.
I simply note now, as I did above, that we are not being intimidated by attacks. We are not mulling over ways in which to pull back so that the world better approves of us.
Very high on the agenda is the judicial/legal reform being advanced by Justice Minister (Likud) Yariv Levin.
And the possibility of revoking the grandfather clause in the Law of Return.
And, of course, more…
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.