(Religious Dictatorship) Tikvah Funds Anti-Democratic Coup (Israel)

I’m including below a notification sent to my email from the Tikvah Fund and this link here to an op-ed written by Elliot Abrams and Eric Cohen in the Jerusalem Post in support of the judicial coup in Israel. Long time followers of the Tikvah Fund will recognize the sleight of hand meant to cover up a radical anti-liberal and conservative-religious worldview. [1] There are mealy words of compromise and unity in the op-ed, which reads more like sponsored content promoting the good offices of Tikvah than an actual op-ed. [2] They exaggerate the activism of the Supreme Court in Israel and underestimate the forces tearing up the country. [3] They want you to think that what is at stake is a good faith “debate” within the parameters of a democratic framework, as opposed to the tearing up of that lowercase liberal framework in order to set one up on a conservative foundation.

More aggressive here at Commentary is Abrams writing against the regime-change critics, primarily American Jews, staunch Zionists like Hillel Halkin and Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky of Anschei Chesed in New York City. No mention is made in this piece or at the Jerusalem Post of the criminal and extremist religious interests of the varied coalition parties. The extremist and racist Religious Zionism party is said to represent a miniscule social force in Israel with no mention made that the extremist members of this party are controlling central levers of the government and causing huge damage being done to the country (economic, military, diplomatic). No mention made of special privileges that the Haredi parties want to cement into law. No mention is made about a government whose leaders from West Bank settlements, illegal under international law, promote occupation and annexation, anti-Arab racism and anti-Palestinian violence. No mention is made that the army is collapsing. No mention made that the majority of the country’s gatekeepers are aligned against the government, and that opposition to the judicial crosses the political spectrum, that this opposition is led (in Hebrew) by very serious people, not “hysterics.”

It is with no little irony that the cover image for the JP editorial is of protesters against the government decrees. These are, of course, the very people whom the Tikvah Fund and Kohelet Forum have helped enflame and the streets and the country that they have helped set on fire, and whose lives they are endangering. Quintessential bad actors acting in bad faith since day 1 of their operation, Tikvah has a lot of money behind them. But they have no constructive role and nothing valuable to contribute to the flourishing of a democratic state, not in Israel and not in the United States, and nothing of value to contribute to Jewish community.

They write:

Dear Friend,

As the intense debate in Israel over the government’s judicial reforms continues in full force—and the entire Jewish world follows along with great interest—we at Tikvah have thoughtfully considered what constructive role we might play as an institution dedicated to the flourishing of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

It is in this spirit that we offer two just-released contributions to this vital debate focused on what Tikvah does best: serious analysis and ideas.

First, our Chairman Elliott Abrams and CEO Eric Cohen have penned an
op-ed in the Jerusalem Post highlighting the importance of judicial reform as well as the higher national purpose of seeking a prudent compromise that restores unity and civility within Israeli society. As Abrams and Cohen write, “This is a time for statesmanship and wise compromise, not callous and inflammatory accusations…In our view, a negotiated and broadly consensual agreement remains the best outcome, incorporating those reforms that have the broadest democratic majority and postponing those that do not.”

You can read the full article by
clicking here or scrolling to the bottom of this email.

We are also pleased to share with you our comprehensive new reader, Thinking about Israel’s Judicial Debate, which collects a quarter-century of essays and arguments sponsored or published by Tikvah about the power of Israel’s Supreme Court.
You can sign up to receive it here.

Thank you—as always—for your
support. We hope these ideas make a valuable contribution in this moment of great consequence for the Jewish state.

About Tikvah and the Kohelet Forum there is this article in the mainline and centrist Times of Israel

About the Supreme Court and the coup, there are links in this blogpost that I recently posted here that reflect the considered views of Israeli scholars, lawyers, and legal-activists.

About conservative American Jews funding regime change and religious dictatorship in Israel, you can draw your own conclusions.

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(Secular Icons) Poster Protest Art (Liberal Israel)

An article here at Ha’aretz about a group of graphic art and design people creating posters against the regime coup in Israel. The activists formed a group whose work is offer at this Hebrew language FB page: Democracy Will Win” –Protest Posters.

According to the article, each poster goes through a process of group process and discussion. On Saturday, sites are set up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem where demonstrators can pick up signs for the protest that evening. They reflect a liberal-national ethos.

Particularly strong are the posters that pun on figures and motifs that belong to the repertoire of secular Israeli Jewish culture.

I am posting two images here, but there are more at the Ha’aretz website and and new rounds of current work at the group’s FB page.

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(Bnei Brak) Haredi Religion & Secular Protest (Israel)

This thread in Hebrew by Alon-Lee-Green from Omdim b’Yahad contains a lot of negative pushback. But Green explains why going to demonstrate this coming Thursday in Bnei Brak and doing so under the banner “No Democracy, No Torah” might be a bad, bad idea.

Religion is at the heart of the regime putsch in Israel and Haredi communities overwhelming support the new government, which would not have been put into power without that them. At issue raised by Green is respecting the line between political protest and targeting an entire community, many members of which are themselves socially vulnerable.

Suggesting that Green may have erred in judgment is this thread by Tal Schneider documenting the anti-government protest in Bnai Brak:

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(Democracy) Red Line (Jerusalem)

Artist-activists draw a red line in Jerusalem connecting the Russian Compoun and the Supreme Court

The organizer released this startement in Hebrew which I google-translated:

A red and pink stripe will be painted along the way, marking the inseparable connection between an independent judicial system and freedom of expression and creativity, leisure, culture and sports… History shows that the destruction of democratic institutions inevitably leads to persecution, silencing and censorship of art, culture and creativity.

The image of a bright red line intersecting the city speaks more powerfully than words, not just about these inseparable connections but about the sharp red lines upon which democracy depends and which cannot be crossed.

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Red Tail Hawk Eats Squirrel in Central Park

Not for the squeamish, these are closeup photos of a red tail eating a squirrel that M. and M. and I came across on a walk behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We stuck around for almost an hour. The red stuff goes down the gullet.

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(Links) The Supreme Court and Legal Putsch in Israel (Overview & Background)

In fact, the Supreme Court in Israel is not radical, and is deferential to state authority in regards to Basic Laws (including the 2018 rightwing Nation State Law), security, and the military occupation and settlements in the occupied West Bank. But that’s not what promoters of the judicial putsch claim about it. For some basic and expert background about the Supreme Court and the judicial putsch in Israel, I am posting a few links.

This piece here is by Neta Barak Corren and provides the overview.

This link here is to the Israel Democracy Institute. Only 22 laws were overturned by the Supreme Court since 1997. They are listed here.

This link here is to The Israeli Law Professors’ Forum For Democracy’s position paper 20: On the Supreme Court’s case law relating to security issues and the Occupied Territories

This link here at the very leftwing +972 is a very balanced bio on and interview with Simcha Rothman, a Knesset member from the Religious Zionism part and an archictect of the judicial “reform.” It provides context as to what, from the point of view of the government and its leaders, especially on the religious national right, is motivating the attack on the judicial system.

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(Megilat Esther) Purim Sameach (State of Nature)

Read it! The neoclassical scroll of Esther is colorful and motley. Reader, beware. Purim is what happens when social contracts are violated by violent men and put right by the violence of dumb luck and cunning.

[18th century scroll of Esther. Joods Historisch Museum in Amsterdam]

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(Amalek) Regime Change in Israel (Note from the Liberal Pew)

Last Shabbat was Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat before the commemoration of Purim. On this Shabbat Jews are enjoined to remember Amalek and to blot out his name. In the Bible, Amalek falls upon the camp of the Israelites, attacking those at the rear of the camp who are exposed and incapable of defending themselves. In Jewish lore, Amalek is the personification of evil, a satanic force, the enemy of Israel. In the twentieth century, Amalek stands in for Nazis.

This year, Shabbat Zachor fell a week after the pogrom by some four hundred religious settlers in the village of Hawara after Palestinian terrorists murdered two young Israeli settlers, brothers, in the road that runs through the commercial center of the village. The act of settler violence was followed a few days later by words from Bezalel Smotrich from the Religious Zionism party. From the settlement of Kedumim in the occupied West Bank, Smotrich is an extremist religious nationalist, a radical and a racist who wants one day to impose religious law on the State of Israel. He is the country’s minister of finance and a minister in the Defense Ministry responsible for civilian affairs in the occupied territories. He was recorded at a public forum, not off the record and not off the cuff, saying that the army should “erase” the village.

Declaring war with at least half and maybe more than half the country, run by vicious, spiteful people and indicted criminals, this religious-national government in Israel has lost the liberal mainstream of the American Jewish community.

From the bimah of Anschei Chesed in New York, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky condemned in clear and sharpest terms the desecration of the name of God in Hawara, condemned this desecration of Judaism and Jewish tradition, condemned the anti-democratic powers behind judicial regime change in Israel, condemned the government of religious zealots engineered by Benjamin Netanyahu. As a progressive Zionist, Kalmanofsky recalled the passage in Exodus 17:16 when Moses declares war with Amalek throughout the ages. In the Hebrew, the “throne” and “name of God” both appear in truncated form, as if marred. The pogrom in Hawara by religious nationalists and the forces behind them represent the spirit of Amalek.

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(Bezalel Smotrich) American Jewish Mainstream Boycotts Religious Zionism

If anyone was wondering about the power of taboo, it’s becoming clear that every society and every community is defined by red lines. Far right religious racist and finance minister Bezalel Smotrich is coming to the United States to meet with the leadership of Israel Bonds. As per Haaretz here, The long list of American Jewish organizational bodies refusing to meet with him include AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, The Jewish Federations of North America, the ADL, and possibly The American Jewish Committee. Americans for Peace Now has distributed a petititon calling on the State Department not to provide Smotrich a visa, which you can sign here. Anshel Pfeffer here at Haaretz notes that Smotrich’s name does not appear on the Israel Bonds’ website. “Whether officials at the organization are ashamed by his presence or have simply caught wind of the plans by Jewish groups and Israeli expats to protest at the event, they seem strangely uneager to publicize the conference. Will he turn up?” About drawing lines, Pfeffer goes on to quote a leader of one of these organizations about the need to “put down a marker between us and the parts of Israeli society we should have spoken out against years ago.” These are blunt words. Between the mass protests in Israel, the opposition of Israeli elites across the entire social spectrum, and these kinds of red lines being drawn by mainline American Jewish organizations, it is as if a part of the collective body of the Jewish people is trying to vomit out of its system the racism and violence of the new regime in Israel that is hell-bent on establishing a violent and racist theocratic dictatorship.

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(Judaism) Religious Zionism at the Abyss (Huwara)

After two young men were murdered by terrorists in the occupied West Bank, some 400 religious settler nationalists go on a rampage in the Palestinian town of Huwara, killing one, wounding many others, killing livestock, burning down homes. and private property. Backed up by an ultra-rightwing and ultra-religious government and the power of the state, Jewish religion and orthodox Judaism and Religious Zionism in Israel are an organized force of political chaos and violence, a blight on Israeli democracy and on the Jewish people. You can read about it here. I’m postng below a clip from Twitter where they pogromists stopped to davven ma’ariv. About the government of religious-national violence, this article reports that ultra-religious-nationalist Bezalel Smotrich, the minister of finance and a minister in ministry of defense responsible for civiilian matters in the occupied West Bank, called for the government to wipe out Huwara.

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