That is, the possibility of negotiations between former Prime Minister Netanyahu and Attorney General Mandelblit regarding a plea bargain for Netanyahu reaching completion. If it was not yet a sure thing, it was looking pretty good when last I wrote. Now, the situation is reversed: it’s not definitely finished, but prospects are dim.
A primary reason given for this change is that Mandelblit’s term of office will terminate at the end of January, and he doesn’t believe negotiations can be completed by then. But Netanyahu says the deal could be done in two days of intense negotiations. (The Court would then have to approve the deal.)
More to the point, I believe, is Mandelblit’s cooling on the whole deal because of criticism that has been leveled at him. There is a host of varying opinions on this situation: Mandelblit should insist that Netanyahu see through his trial and not let him get away easier; Mandelblit should save the country the expense and aggravation of pursuing that trial. Netanyahu is guilty and should not get off easy; Netanyahu is innocent and deserves his day in court so that he can be fairly acquitted.
There is certainly reason to believe that Mandelblit agreed to pursue this because he had some doubts about whether Netanyahu would be found guilty on any of the counts and preferred to secure a plea via negotiations. My own opinion is that a good measure of what Netanyahu was charged with amounts to hot air – not criminal offenses. But of course, he could not be certain that he would be found innocent.
JPost political analyst Gil Hoffman observed last week that there is currently less cohesion within the governing coalition. This is a coalition that is comprised of (insanely) diverse parties that have held together because of the common interest in remaining within the government. Now, said Hoffman, there is more divisiveness evident, and he interprets this as being a reflection of the recognition within those diverse parties that they might be on their way out soon.
And I will add here – this is not part of Hoffman’s analysis – that it is also possible for a handful of the right-wing members of the current government (is it an oxymoron to refer to right-wing members of this government?) to see the light and decide to leave even if Netanyahu stays as head of Likud. Quite unlikely, but it is possible – and perhaps a tad more possible now because of the political unrest. In such an event, if a governing coalition could be formed on the right, no election would be required.
Of late, there is an encouraging movement on the part of the right-wing in the country to speak out with determination in the face of horrendous actions of our government:
Last Thursday, January 13, thousands of people turned out for a demonstration here in Jerusalem, outside the prime minister’s office; it was organized by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.
The date on which it was held marked the shloshim (the thirty day period of mourning) for Yehuda Dimentman, murdered by a terrorist outside of Homesh.
Among those who spoke were Religious Zionism MKs Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben Gvir and Simcha Rothman, as well as Likud MK Shlomo Karhi, and Rabbi Mordecai Dimentman, Yehuda’s father. There were many issues raised, but the concessions made to the Negev Bedouin and the threat to Homesh elicited the greatest protest.
“A government that rewards terrorism is a dangerous government for the country,” declared Smotrich.
While Ben Gvir said the Ra’am party is not to blame for the current situation; Bennett himself should blamed. (I concur and have expressed the same sentiment.)
Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman (pictured) also spoke (emphasis added):
“We came here tonight to remind everyone and namely ourselves: this country will not be run in collaboration with our worst enemies. The only ones who will lead our country are the nation of Israel.”
Then, just four days later, on January 17, the eve of Tu B’Shvat, more than 1,200 yeshiva students went to Homesh to conduct a Tu B’Shvat seder. This was not an easy task, as the entrance to Homesh was barricaded by the IDF. The students went the back way, through Arab villages, accompanied by veterans of combat IDF units carrying weapons; it took them two hours on foot.
This is Israel’s future. The determination of these students is inspiring.
A day later, on the eve of the 18th, there was another protest organized by the Women in Green. The major gathering point was the Chords Bridge in Jerusalem, while smaller groups gathered at other bridges and intersections across the country. Many thousands participated. Declared the organizers:
“We do not accept the actions of the government, the loss of our values. The government’s path poses a real danger to the existence and identity of the state, so we must take to the streets.”
Once again, there was a protest against the Bennett government, which incorporates Ra’am; a demand that Homesh not be dismantled; and a demand that unregistered Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria be hooked up to the electric grid (as unrecognized Bedouin homes will be).
This energy and determination were fueled by unacceptable actions on the part of the government. Now they must be sustained. And may those on the right inside the government take heed and re-think their current stance.
Other issues regarding what is happening in Israel – which I had thought I would explore here – will be saved for my next posting. For now I feel impelled to write about the future of the American Jewish community, which in many respects is also hanging by a thread.
Everyone, but everyone, knows that on Shabbat morning, January 15, Islamic terrorist Malik Faisal Akram entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX, a suburb of Fort Worth.
Akram – a Pakistani with British citizenship – took four people including Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker hostage (most of the congregation was watching services on livestream). After an 11-hour stand-off, with FBI and other enforcement agents deployed outside, the hostages managed to escape unscathed – something of a miracle – and the FBI then shot Akram dead.
Akram’s stated goal in taking the hostages was to secure the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, also known as “Lady Al-Qaeda” who is serving an 86-year sentence at a federal prison in Fort Worth. Siddiqui was convicted of attempting to kill U.S. nationals outside the U.S.; attempting to kill U.S. officers and employees; and armed assault of U.S. officers and employees.
This horrendous incident ended as well as it might have – with all hostages safe and the terrorist Akram taken down. But some of the responses and comments in the course of and then following this horrific event have been deeply troubling.
There is the question of how Akram got into the US, in light of his long criminal record in Britain. British journalist Melanie Philips has addressed this question in “The unspoken truths behind the Texas synagogue attack” (emphasis added):
“Clearly,” she writes, “British intelligence has much to answer for…
“Yet he was able to enter the United States as a tourist, presumably by lying about his criminal record on his entry form, and he was able to obtain a gun there.
“In both Britain and America, the security agencies have allowed themselves to become increasingly focused on a reportedly rising threat from white supremacism. But the overwhelming threat to the West comes from Islamic extremism.
“The security establishment is reflecting a wider state of denial. In both countries, the political, media and cultural establishment has blocked itself from acknowledging the true nature and extent of Islamic radicalization.”
This is a major problem for American society, but most particularly for American Jews, for radical Islam is by its very nature inherently and viciously anti-Semitic. Yet American culture is in serious denial about this.
Caroline Glick, looks at this problem in “Colleyville and the ‘professional’ civil servants“ (emphasis added):
“Matt De Sarno, the FBI agent in charge at the scene, walked over to the waiting press corps to brief reporters…And there he announced, incongruously, that what had just happened was not an anti-Semitic attack.
“As he put it, Akram’s motive in entering a synagogue during prayer services and taking four Jews hostage wasn’t ‘specifically related to the Jewish community.’”
The Bureau later reversed this assessment, but Glick describes the underpinning of his original call:
“Over the past 15 years, much of the federal government, including the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, has been politicized and radicalized.
“…As FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland have proclaimed in congressional testimony over the past year, as far as the FBI and the Justice Department are concerned, the gravest terror threat facing the United States emanates from ‘domestic terrorists’ (aka Trump supporters). Islamic terrorists and violent far-left groups like ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter who looted and burned America’s cities…lag well behind the MAGA crowd in terms of the danger they pose to America and its citizens.”
This situation should ring bells for every American Jew, but unfortunately this is not the case. For there are Jews who have bought into this leftist thinking, and that, for me, is most worrisome of all.
Those who have been following the news on this, already know that since Jonathan Greenblatt took over from Abe Foxman as head of the ADL, this organization no longer defends the interests of Jews.
Robert Spencer, Director of Jihad Watch, addresses this in “In Wake of Texas Synagogue Hostage-Taking, Anti-Defamation League Warns Against ‘Islamophobia’” (emphasis added):
“…you might think that after an Islamic jihadi stormed a Texas synagogue and took hostages, the ADL would be drawing attention to Islamic anti-Semitism, as well as to the targeting of synagogues by Islamic jihadis in the past. Instead, it once again proves that it is more interested in preserving the Leftist narrative than in combating anti-Semitism: the ADL is very concerned that some of the reactions to the hostage-taking incident have been, in its view, ‘Islamophobic.’”
Certainly not every Muslim is anti-Semitic. This is more evident than ever with the Abraham Accords and the warm feelings towards Jews expressed today in places such as the UAE. But we are facing a situation in a left-leaning America in which telling the truth about the anti-Jewish sentiments found in Islam – and acted out virulently by radical Islamists — is considered an unacceptable libel against Islam.
There is a famous Hadith (one of a collection of sayings attributed to Mohammed) that I have encountered again and again in my research. It says, “The Jews will hide behind the stones and the trees, and the stones and the trees will say, oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me — come and kill him.”
It should also be noted here that Siddiqui insisted there be no Jews in the jury for her trial; when she was found guilty, she blamed it on Israel.
But in the progressive world, the threat of radical Islamic anti-Semitism will never be properly confronted. I would further note here that Jonathan Greenblatt previously worked in the Obama White House. Obama, as you will recall, called the Islamic terrorist murders at Fort Hood a “work accident.”
And I will end here today with an observation concerning Rabbi Cytron-Walker and his congregation. Everyone is grateful that he and his congregants emerged physically unscathed. He obviously handled himself well during the ordeal, and interviewed exceedingly well in one newscast after another. There were many words of praise for him.
But when he spoke to one interviewer, he said he thanked the entire Muslim community. I heard it, and felt great unease. Then there was a tweet by Muslim Alia Salem that identified the rabbi as a dear friend for 15 years who has been a rock solid friend “to the entire Muslim community through thick and thin.” @aliarsalem This gave serious pause, as well. Sure, do interfaith work. But the “entire Muslim community”?
Lastly there was a comment from the president of the congregation, Michael Finfer, who said, “We know that a situation of this magnitude could increase the concern many of us live with on a day-to-day basis due to antisemitism. It is important to note that this was a random act of violence. Indeed, there was a one in a million chance that the gunman picked our congregation.” (Emphasis added)
Really, Mr. Finfer? What we are looking at is a Reform congregation of a progressive mindset that is not prepared to address Muslim anti-Semitism. Don’t worry, folks, it just happened. Carry on.
While not all Reform synagogues would express the same sentiments, I fear that a great many would. This is unspeakably sad.
And so I advise all American Jews who are concerned to emulate the right-wing citizens of Israel today. Not by holding rallies, necessarily, but by being constantly vigilant and speaking truth to power.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.