I have compiled these important six articles addressing trends in Israel and the American Jewish community as a passionate ohavei am u-medinat Yisrael (a lover of the people and state of Israel). Even in light of all the good, creative, decent, and progressive things that continue to pour out of Israel in every field of endeavor, there are nevertheless anti-democratic trends in the Knesset and among segments of the population in Israel and West Bank that are ominous and threatening to the democratic Jewish state that I and so many of us love.
I highlight these six articles with you in this spirit and wish all of you and the people you love a healthy, happy, productive, and peaceful secular New Year.
1. The Unraveling of Israeli Democracy, Times of Israel
Naomi Chazan, former Israeli Deputy PM and Head of New Israel Fund argues, “… the continuous assault on the pluralism of the public domain reflects the insecurity of those in office and directly serves their interests by allowing the present leadership to shirk responsibility for Israel’s precarious situation and, by shifting the burden to those who disapprove of its course….”
2. We’ve Entered the Final Decade to Save Israel, Haaretz
Ari Shavit argues, “Israeli democracy in recent years has become seriously ill. The Supreme Court is under attack, the media have been weakened, and the system of checks and balances has been neutered. An evil wind is blowing that silences criticism and condemns differing opinions. If this aggressive populist and ultranationalist attack on Israel’s democratic institutions and values continues until 2025, we are liable to find ourselves with a benighted political system that is no longer committed to freedom, equality, fairness and progress.”
3. Why Liberals Gave Samantha Power the Cold Shoulder — and the Point They Missed, Forward
On December 13, the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz and the New Israel Fund sponsored a “new Israeli American discussion” in NYC addressing Palestinian rights, religion and state, U.S.-Israel relations and grass-roots organizing power. More than 70 speakers appeared — Israeli, Palestinian and American lawmakers, journalists, academics and activists… In session after session when the topics of Palestinian statehood and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank came up, they were framed in terms of Palestinian rights and interests. Israel’s needs — even the basic argument that separating from the Palestinians would make Israel safer — came as an afterthought if at all.
4. Why Adelson’s Campus anti-BDS Group Will Be a Bust, Haaretz
Rabbi Eric Yoffie writes, “Coalitions of Israel supporters are the key to pro-Israel advocacy… I don’t agree with J Street on everything, but they are an essential part of the Zionist family. And they are exceedingly effective pro-Israel advocates and anti-BDS organizers on campus, especially with students on the left. …the Maccabee Task Force regards as allies only those who refrain from criticism of Israeli government policies. … It is madness to think that a no-criticism litmus test can be applied in building pro-Israel and anti-BDS coalitions.”
5. Israel now has its very own Jewish Hamas, Rabbi Eric Yoffie
… Israel now has its very own Jewish Hamas, fanatics motivated by extremist religious ideology who kill, maim and justify the mayhem they have committed by blaming their enemies. They have religious leaders who encourage them in their extremist actions. Rather than take responsibility for the death of children and other innocents, Hamas chieftains change the subject: Their victims are the oppressors, indifferent to justice and God’s will. Jewish terrorists do and say exactly the same thing, with the same fervor, cruelty, and conspiratorial cunning.
5. Ruvi Rivlin is my man of the year, Times of Israel
Who would have guessed, a decade ago, that Reuven “Ruvi” Rivlin, would be the source of optimism in Israel of 2015 and a clear voice of sanity amidst the rhetoric of polarization and extremism?
6. Netanyahu agrees with haredim not to allow Women of the Wall to read Torah at Western Wall – Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Netanyahu has come to an agreement with the haredi political parties not to allow the Women of the Wall prayer rights to read from a Torah in the women’s section of the Western Wall. The PM promised the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America in November that a pluralist third section at the Western Wall was soon to be created. The Reform, Conservative movements and WOW are holding him to his promise.
Note #1: My gratitude extends to J Street’s Daily Round-up of Israeli Press and Opinion for items 1,2,3, and 4 above.
Note #2: Three of the above articles are from Israel’s daily newspaper Haaretz. Haaretz is the NY Times of Israel and you must subscribe to read its English version. I urge you to do so.