My last posting was a celebration of the miracle of Israel. Today I want to begin by carrying that theme forward.
The words of Hatikva (to which progressives who want Israel to be a “state of all its citizens” object) speak of the 2,000-year longing for Zion – “To be a free people in our land.”
And this, my friends, is the greatest miracle of all: The Jewish People, dispersed two-thousand years ago, who never stopped longing for Zion, and were able to return and establish a state.
There has never been an historical occurrence like this. Ever. What happened was so unlikely, so impossible – if you don’t believe in miracles – that there were historians who were baffled when modern Israel was established.
And so, there is no question about it: This IS our land. Our sovereign state.
And there is one other point I would make here about how unique Israel is: We are a tiny nation. And yet the eyes of the world (for various reasons) are on us all of the time. We are imbued with a significance far beyond our size and our numbers (almost 10 million Israelis now). Make no mistake about it: We are at the center of the world, and what happens here has global implications.
A great weight rests upon our shoulders.
And with that, I turn to the marvelous occurrence of last night. It is important to me to get this out before Shabbat comes in:
Calls had gone out for a huge right-wing demonstration (March of a Million) to gather near the Knesset to demonstrate support for the government and for judicial reform.
It was a marvelous, marvelous success. The estimates began at 200,000 and then were adjusted upward to “hundreds of thousands.” We might say 300,000 plus.
The behavior of the crowd was excellent and there were commentators saying this was not like any of the other demonstrations – because it included so many different segments of the population. They were bussed in from all over the country – including from Tel Aviv, which is the primary source of the left-wing demonstrations.
The message was clear: We voted for this government. We gave it 64 mandates. Now we want to see the judicial reform that had been promised.
In short, the leaders in the coalition who have been working to effect that reform now have been given a clear mandate from the people!! Again. And they are strengthened in their resolve.
As MK Simcha Rothman (RZP), Chair of the Justice Committee, said at the march: “The people demand judicial reform and that is what the people will get.” He indicated that it may take time, but they will get it.
“Mending the legal system is my life’s work, and I shall continue to advance it in every possible way.”
That theme was echoed over and over.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (RZP) said:
“Look how much strength we have. They have the media and tycoons who finance demonstrations. We have the majority of the people, who demand and give us full backing to fix what needs to be fixed.”
“The people demand judicial reform and they will get it. We will not give up.”
And National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) said:
“It’s amazing to see here all the hundreds of thousands of people who came to say: reform now! reform now!
“You are patriots! You are lovers of the people of Israel! You are the beautiful people of Israel!”
“Those [left-wing protest] organizers – like Ehud Barak – don’t just care about the reform, they care that the right is in power. They did not accept that we won the elections, they are not ready to accept it, they will do everything to damage us and harm the State of Israel.”
Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), a key figure in advancing the reform, sought to allay fears on the left:
“We want to send a message to those who are afraid of the results of the reform. I wish to turn to them. They tell us that the reform is designed to take over the court. The opposite is true. We want a court for everybody – liberal, conservative, right, left, everybody.”
He referred to decisions of the Supreme Court that demonstrate clearly why reform is necessary: “We want a court that does not award rights to the families of the terrorists…A court that protects the lives of IDF soldiers…” When he confronts incitement and vilification, he said, “It only strengthens me. Every day that goes by shows how right our way is. I shall continue and do all in my power to bring about the change required in the legal system.”
The crowd was not receptive to his reference to negotiations, however. They want it now, they called.
As to the negotiations, he indicated that they could be effective if done in a businesslike manner, and not by “conducting discussions for more than a month and saying no to every proposal.” (This provided a view of those “negotiations” very different from the eager reports of President Herzog.)
The venerable Prof. Yisrael (Robert) Aumann, Nobel Prize Winner, came with a group of professors. He said: “We have come to protest against the dictatorship of unelected people who force their stance on the public.”
So many truths spoken, called out loud for all to hear.
I think that Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Tsfat, and a leading figure in the Religious Zionist community, put it very well:
“The people of Israel live; they left their homes – and their fears. The people of Israel came out en masse. Here…the people of Israel…have vital forces, and the…will to say ‘I am not a second-class citizen’.
“After this evening, it seems to me that the fear that the judicial reform could be torpedoed is over.”
We go into Shabbat now with a fear that the left will steal the nation and remake it according to their wishes lifted from our hearts.
It will not be easy going forward, and we know the left will fight with great strength, but the right has been empowered now.
There will be a great deal to track and to analyze in the coming days.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.