Please share broadly; this information is critically important.
The outrage is something we must cope with on a regular basis, as international elements presume to interfere in the internal affairs of Israel. I want to focus first on one particularly egregious sort of behavior on the part of certain groups outside of Israel – both private and governmental:
This is with regard to providing funds and political support for the deplorable “demonstrations” that are ostensibly about judicial reform but have a much larger anti-government agenda.
These demonstrations with their tens of thousands of participants who come out on a regular basis are clearly NOT spontaneous events. They require organization, and substantial funds.
Posters by the thousands are professionally designed, printed and put up. Flags by the tens of thousands are purchased and distributed. Buses are hired to bring demonstrators to designated sites. How many buses are needed for thousands of people? How much is paid to the organizers who orchestrate these events?
And so, the obvious questions: Who is paying for this? Who is encouraging it?
The New Israel Fund is a US-based non-profit that operates in Israel by funding Israeli proxies that work towards the objectives of NIF. The Israeli NGOs that receive their funds are described by NIF as “cutting edge.” In a word, that means progressive. NIF, from its base in New York, proudly promotes a left-wing agenda for Israel. And they raise big bucks in the US that enable them to pursue this agenda.
Let us stop right here for a moment: By what right does NIF presume to impose its agenda on Israel?
NIF claims that its objective is “social justice and equality for all Israelis.” Before we can grapple meaningful with this, it is critical to understand what “equality for all Israelis” actually means in this context.
Everyone who is an Israeli citizen currently has the same civil rights: Freedom of assembly; the right to freely practice one’s religion; the right to vote for representation in the Knesset; the right to equal medical care and treatment in Israel’s hospitals; the right to receive national insurance benefits such as pensions; the right to petition the High Court; etc. This applies to Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs alike.
Make no mistake about it: When a progressive organization such as NIF speaks about “equality for all Israelis” it is speaking of national/political rights. Israeli Arabs possess civil rights as individuals; they are not legally considered a “nation” inside of Israel. Israel is a Jewish state, the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is what left-wing progressives would like to change: They would like to render Israel a “state of all its citizens.” This means no more Jewish state.
For NIF and similar progressive organizations, this constitutes democracy; for them a Jewish state is inherently “undemocratic.”
If NIF is allocating funds to promote the demonstrations, it means that NIF views them as a vehicle for furthering its agenda. Think about what is really going on here. I would suggest that this is happening without the conscious awareness of thousands of the proud demonstrators who have been told lies and believe that the reforms do threaten democracy. (They do not.)
On January 13, NIF put out a message to its supporters. I share part of its message verbatim, so that you may see precisely what NIF is proudly doing:
“Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Habima Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest against the policies of the new government and in particular the sweeping changes it plans to make to Israel’s judicial system by weakening the Supreme Court.
“NIF grantee Omdim Beyachad (Standing Together) led the protest. The New Israel Fund provided a special grant for the numerous civil society organizations which arranged the rally, while Shatil played a role in coordinating and synchronizing among the groups participating in this major show of strength…
“NIF also supported grantee Tag Meir for its demonstration outside the Knesset on the day that the new government was sworn (sic)…
“NIF will continue to protest and campaign to protect Israel’s democracy and support the activists and organizations who are with us.”
Shatil, according to NGO-Monitor, is “the Israel-based ‘operating arm’ of the NIF.”
We must also look at the behavior of the US government itself regarding support for the demonstrations. Here we do not have – nor could we expect – an overt message from the Biden administration, or more specifically the State Department, regarding financial support for the demonstrations. But when we connect the dots, the picture becomes clear.
Most significantly, what we do see is American political support for the anti-government forces. This meddling is outrageous and destructive to Israeli stability.
An article by Michael Doron, “How U.S. Ambassador Tom Nides Became Israel’s Arsonist-in-Chief,” which appeared in Tablet Magazine just over a week ago, provides a sharp assessment of the situation.
“Nides’ intervention in domestic Israeli politics has become so open and self-assured that it is impossible to dismiss his behavior as the freelancing of an undisciplined envoy. His repeated public comments reflect the will of the president.”
True enough, but I would add that he reflects the will of Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Nides, as ambassador, serves under State Department jurisdiction and answers directly to the Secretary of State.
Back in early February, Nides had already begun speaking out both publicly and privately urging the Israeli government to slow down judicial reforms. Nides told Netanyahu to “pump the brakes” on the reforms, calling them an impediment to U.S.-Israeli cooperation against Iran. “I said to … the prime minister, a hundred times, we can’t spend time with things we want to work on together if your backyard is on fire.”
And I say, nonsense. This is both threat and excuse.
When Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli (Likud) told him to mind his own business – “we’d be happy to debate with you…but respect our democracy,” this was Nides snide response (emphasis added):
“Some Israeli official—I don’t know who he is, I don’t think I’ve met him—suggested that I should stay out of Israel’s business. I really think that most Israelis do not want America to stay out of their business.”
Concludes Doron: “By intervening in domestic Israeli politics, Nides is demonstratively placing the power of the United States behind the opponents of the reform…There can be no doubt that the intervention of Nides works to the benefit of Yair Lapid…”
It’s not a large stretch, then, to say that funds from the State Department might be supporting one or more groups in Israel that are promoting the demonstrations. The evidence points to the left-wing Movement for Quality Government in Israel.
The MQG website speaks of “The Struggle against Anti-Democratic Legislation”:
“…highly dangerous anti-democratic bills have started being legislated. The damage is not only to integrity…but to democracy per se. Consequently, we are entering a critical struggle…
“…we have started a broad public struggle: thousands of citizens have already joined our demonstrations across the country.” (All emphasis in the original)
Israeli commentator Caroline Glick first addressed this issue a month ago, referring to MQG’s “campaign of delegitimization, subversion and demonization.” At that point, she identified the movement as “the primary organizer and sponsor of the mass protests against judicial reform. The speakers at the rallies stand under the MQG banner when they call for insurgency, civil war and violence.” (Emphasis added)
MQG is required by Israeli law to report funding by foreign governments, and so the fact that this group receives funds from the US State Department is a matter of record. But demonstrating that any of this money is used specifically for the demonstrations is more difficult…
Adam Kredo, writing in the Washington Free Beacon on March 6, cited Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO-Monitor, who said:
“The State Department typically allows its grantees to self-report how the money is used, meaning there are few guardrails in place to prevent it from being spent on other causes.”
What is known is that State Department funds underwrite MQG programs for “democracy education” in Israeli high schools. Explains Glick, “The ‘democracy’ programs in the schools indoctrinate children to believe that the only moral way for Israel to organize itself is as a post-Jewish ‘state for all its citizens.’”
This gross interference, in and of itself, is alarming.
Yet another piece to this outrage must be mentioned: Certain elements on the left here in Israel are so determined to win the battle against a right-wing government that they are prepared to enlist international support. And they are not above utilizing fabrications to bolster their case.
Until recently there was an unwritten understanding that political disputes remained in-house and that everyone stood together in times of threats such as terror attacks. But this is no longer the case. While it is doubtful that their behavior could be defined as traitorous, it certainly has that feel about it.
This past Sunday, former justice minister Tzipi Livni and former prime minister Ehud Barak – two losers out of the Labor party – were interviewed on CNN by Fareed Zakaria, airing the issues before a broad international audience.
“These are not judicial reforms,” Livni said, “it’s about changes in the nature of Israel as a democracy.”
Barak declared the judicial reforms to be “an attack on the very soul and nature of our democracy… and the values of the Declaration of Independence.”
What?? They should both hang their heads in shame, but they won’t.
Once again Minister Amichai Chikli called it correctly, accusing the two of “smearing” Israel and effectively empowering the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
“Envy, lust, and the desire for honor take a person out of this world,” he tweeted, quoting Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers).
I will note that Ehud Olmert, another big-time loser from Labor, has played some of the same games.
One of the positions that I have found disturbing in the course of the left-wing challenge to the coalition is an assumption that is being made that the two factions have equal weight in making arguments, and equal right to have their positions prevail.
There is a flaw in this thinking that is oft-times missed, however. There was, for example, an observation by Prof. Yuval Elbashan, clearly on the left, (pictured) who participated with former Justice Minister Daniel Friedman in drafting a compromise judicial reform plan. The opposition, he said, made a mistake by demanding a cessation in the legislation as a precondition to negotiations. But the coalition made a mistake by refusing to cease the legislative process.
But this makes no sense. If it was wrong for Lapid and company to demand that legislation stop, why should the coalition have honored that demand?
What is more, there is a basic disparity that is being ignored: the coalition was elected by the people to pursue judicial reform, while the opposition lost the election. The government coalition has 64 mandates, while the opposition has 46 (not counting the two Arab factions, which are not participating in the demonstrations).
When the coalition refuses to honor an opposition demand, it is portrayed as being inflexible – as if they have an obligation to do so.
This same Prof. Elbashan said MK Simcha Rothman, chair of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee – which is where discussions on the legislation are being held – didn’t receive the Ten Commandments from Sinai. But that is a grossly unfair attack. Rothman has said several times that there is room for adjustments and has already made some unilaterally. What is more, he went to meet with President Herzog when the opposition refused to do so.
The point I want to make here is that portraying the coalition as unreasonable is part of the left-wing tactic. It is a dirty game that is being played, and you help Israel when you set the record straight.
There are pertinent points to be made here, with regard to the opposition demands for changes in the legal reform legislation. They should be considered with great seriousness.
 Compromise means agreement between the two parties. If the opposition refuses to meet with the coalition, then the coalition is not “compromising” by making changes, it is surrendering. The opposition will have gained points without giving anything. The coalition would be doing all of the giving but receive nothing in return.
What would be expected that the opposition would give in return: That they would say, OK, you compromised on this and this, and so we are willing to accept these other points and will no long call demonstrations against them.
 It is not at all clear that the opposition really wants compromise on judicial reform. There is solid reason to believe (and I have discussed this previously) that the goal is to weaken the government and take down Netanyahu. Thus, there will never be a set of compromises they will agree to.
There is no assurance that even after compromises are offered by the coalition the opposition would stop calling out the crowds to demonstrate. In fact, were the leaders on the left able to see that they can achieve political gains by promoting raucous demonstrations (blocking traffic, etc.), they might well be inclined to try this tactic for other issues.
 The opposition complains about lack of democracy, but what they are attempting to doing is to control the country as a minority.
This, then, leads me to my final point for this posting: Last night President Isaac Herzog once again stepped beyond his role and announced to the nation that he has come forward with what he called the “People’s Outline,” a proposal for compromise on the issues.
This was not his place! His proper role would have been to call the two sides to negotiate, offering his good offices to be of assistance. Period.
I will not belabor the compromise he offered (although you can see the details below) because the coalition very readily rejected it as one-sided. Remember that Herzog, too, is a left-winger out of Labor.
What Herzog did was push a panic button: “Those who think that a real civil war, with human lives, is a border we won’t cross, have no idea…the abyss is within touching distance. A civil war is a red line. At any price, and by any means, I won’t let it happen.”
And this means we should give in to opposition demands?? All of a sudden, after weeks of distress about the unruly mobs demonstrating in the streets, I was caught up short by his warning: Not because it frightened me, but quite the contrary.
Just as negotiations require two parties, so does a civil war. I have yet to see mobs of right-wing Israelis on the street, calling for a real physical fight with the leftist demonstrators. It will not happen.
MK Boaz Bismuth (Likud) made comments in interview that are worth sharing:
“I was interviewed by the media. They said, ‘Oh, listen, I mean how can you make such a reform without having 90 [votes]? Sixty-four is not enough.’ Let’s only remind you the Oslo Accords was 61 votes…With this we gave back land and more than that, more than a thousand Israelis died. So with all due respect, let’s calm down.
“The problem is that when you go to…Israeli media – who also oppose this reform – you always see those who are invited that their prophesy is that Israel is [in danger of] collapsing and chaos and of course dictatorship and totalitarianism – which is absurd. I mean, it’s like a joke…
“…unfortunately, we don’t see the immense population who approve of the reform, who want the reform. They call us, they send messages, we meet them in the street. Unfortunately, we don’t see them in panels.”
And Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, before departing for a brief diplomatic visit to Germany:
“The things the president proposes were not agreed on by the coalition, and central elements of the proposal he offered just perpetuate the existing situation, and don’t bring the necessary balance between the branches of government in Israel. This is the unfortunate truth.” (Emphasis added)
And so, the process for moving ahead on the reform legislation will continue.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.