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Israel protests thread


Jan 21, 2021
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I didn't see any thread on Israel protests. This is huge, and not much news as well.

Live updates: Israel protests erupt in Tel Aviv as Netanyahu's crisis deepens (cnn.com)
As National Strikes Shutdown Israel's Main Airport, Netanyahu Delays Halting Judicial Overhaul Amid Threats From Coalition Partners - Israel News - Haaretz.com

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Whole of US is anti-Muslim and whole of Pakistan is anti-Jew, so what?


Netanyahu Is Trapped​

MARCH 28, 20234:02 PM
Netanyahu looks down and to the left.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on Monday. Marc Israel Sellem/AFP via Getty Images
Listen to What Next:
When I asked Dahlia Scheindlin what it felt like to be Israeli right now, she said a couple of things. First? It’s hard to sleep. “There’s so much adrenaline. Everybody’s worked up and tense. So I sleep but not a lot.”
Scheindlin is a political scientist and a columnist at Haaretz, in Tel Aviv. She’s been going out into the massive protests that have been roiling the country for 12 weeks now. Thousands of people have flooded the streets, waving Israeli flags and demanding Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition abandon its attempt to “reform” the Israeli judiciary.
This week marked a crescendo for these protesters, as unions ordered much of the country to go on a general strike. That shuttered business all around Israel. So, for Dahlia Scheindlin, being Israeli now means being tired, being inconvenienced—but it also means a strange kind of solidarity. All kinds of people have turned out to make their opinions known—soldiers, doctors, young people, old people. Hundreds of thousands of them. Like Scheindlin, they’re motivated by the belief that the “reforms” their representatives are pushing will make Israel dangerously undemocratic.
We’re in uncharted territory a little bit,” she said, “because the country I live in is very much on the verge of becoming something completely other. My life as I know it could change dramatically. So it’s worrying.” And Scheindlin is still worried, even though late Monday these protests led the Israeli government to blink. On live television, Benjamin Netanyahu announced he was delaying this judicial reform. For now.
But she’s now willing to declare victory yet. “I would not exactly say it’s a victory. It’s simply a kind of gesture in favor of the protesters and a desperate attempt to get the country back mobilized again,” she said. “I keep wondering what these people are going to think when the demonstrations are over and everybody goes home, and this solidarity drains away.”
On Tuesday’s episode of What Next, I spoke with Scheindlin about why Israel shut itself down. And whether it will really make a difference in the long term. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Mary Harris: There are four big judicial reforms at play here. One would allow the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, to override Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority vote. Another would give the ruling coalition the ability to appoint Supreme Court judges. All of these reforms put strict limits on the judiciary at a time when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under indictment.
But Dahlia Scheindlin says these reforms have been brewing for more than a decade. And for Netanyahu’s party, the Likud, and his far-right coalition government, getting them done has become their first priority.
Dahlia Scheindlin:
The Likud has been involved in this and enabling it and in some ways nurturing it for at least a decade. And the other parties to the right of Likud have been openly advocating this kind of political takeover of the judiciary and suppression of judicial review and judicial independence for years.
We have a document that we call the coalition agreement that outlines the basic principles of the coalition. It has to be published by law two days before the government is sworn in. And that document read like a loyalty oath that all the parties in the government would prioritize these judicial “reforms” and that they would go along with whatever the justice minister proposed. They were basically sworn to making this their No. 1 priority. In fact, they generally share the perspective that the court has become some sort of a “dictatorship of elites.”
And because of the way the Israeli government works—without a constitution—the term judicial reform is a bit of a misnomer, right?
Judicial reform is the easiest way to capture what’s happening, but it certainly is a form of regime change. It’s also really important to point out something much more basic and that is that we don’t actually have structural and institutional checks and balances on the executive, other than the independent judiciary. The government controls a majority of the legislature. There isn’t a real separation of powers. We don’t have any sort of regional election system. We’re not a federal system. We’re not part of any other international meta state of bodies or international courts. And we don’t have a formal written constitution.
So there’s really no constraints on the executive, and there are no real constraints on legislation as well. Israel, for most of its history until 1992, was legislating with absolutely no boundaries other than the independent judiciary, which very rarely would exercise judicial review of legislation but was more likely to exercise judicial review of executive action when it violated certain principles, for example, equality or freedom of speech—even though they weren’t written in Israeli law. And so I think that’s what made Israelis really scared—that we have no other real protections. And the court has been responsible, which is the accusation of the right wing, for reading some of the basic expectations that any citizen would have in a democracy into Israel’s political culture, even if they weren’t written into law. That is a deep point of contention. I think that it’s not a healthy situation for a democracy. I agree with the right wing on that, but the court has been forced into that situation.
So you’ve laid out basically how, as soon as Netanyahu became prime minister again, everyone had been kind of sworn to do this judicial “reform.” Can you just tell me how the protest movement started?
I don’t know that they had a particular battle plan for this because so many Israelis seemed to be caught by surprise. Now, I can tell you that the moment the government was established, within one week, the justice minister from Likud published the full plan of judicial reform. And right away that week, there was a demonstration. It was a fairly big demonstration.
But the interesting thing about that demonstration was it split into two. One half of it was protesting the attacks on the judiciary, and that was a very mainstream group of people who maybe voted for centrist parties or some left-wing parties, but maybe also some right-wing parties. And I remember talking to a lot of people who said, “I voted for Likud, I’m a right-winger my whole life, but I don’t like this attack on the judiciary.” And the remainder of the demonstrators were saying, “If you care about democracy, you can’t support occupation.” And this all brings us back to the problem with occupation over Palestinians.
That demonstration was big in its own right. Let’s say 20,000 people. But by the next week is when we really saw mass protests—much bigger. And by that time, the leaders of the various groups that were protesting had made a clear decision that they were not going to split demonstrations and that the best way to mobilize the most people was to completely unify all forces and to make this into a very patriotic Israeli demonstration in its tone and symbolism.
And about judicial reform, because that was the thing everyone could agree on.
Yes. But also adopting the Israeli flag as the symbol is very much a Jewish national narrative. They have completely appropriated all of the national symbolism, which does create a rift in Israeli society on some level. Maybe rift is too strong a word, but there has been lots of observation that many of Israel’s Palestinian citizens don’t feel themselves part of this. They generally support an independent judiciary because it has occasionally made advances for their position in Israeli society, and advanced some of the values that have benefited them, too. So they certainly aren’t for the reforms or the regime change or whatever we decide to call it. And some have been present and speaking and joining, but you certainly don’t see those kinds of numbers or the major presence of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Can you tell me how the protest pressure came to a head this weekend, when the defense minister was fired?
Even before the defense minister announced his intention, he had communicated that he was going to make some sort of speech calling for a pause in the legislation. Netanyahu basically pulled the defense minister into his office for—I don’t know if it was a dressing down or a negotiation, but he headed it off. He managed to get the defense minister not to do it.
And then Netanyahu flew off to London for a visit during which he was trolled and hassled by Israelis and protesters outside Downing Street when he was meeting with the prime minister there. It was on Saturday night while the prime minister was still away that Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, did make his speech and said that the warnings about the weaknesses and damage this is causing to Israel’s military preparedness are too severe. We cannot count on our military being sufficiently prepared.
I think that Netanyahu felt like he was disobeying his orders because they had come to some sort of an agreement, that he was sidelining him by doing it while Netanyahu was abroad, and that he was doing it without Netanyahu’s control or even knowledge that he was going to do it. And that infuriated Netanyahu. Netanyahu, of course, likes to have complete control over everything that goes on in his coalition and probably in the country in general. And so it took Netanyahu about 24 hours to make this decision to announce that he was going to fire him as defense minister.
And the message here is if you give me information I don’t want to hear, you’re out.
The message is if you go against my policies, you’re out. Even though I just said he was furious about how it happened, the real problem was that he wanted to prove that he could pass these reforms. And with 64 seats out of 120, he should have been able to pass them. And there were already cracks in the armor. Interestingly, one of the other very senior Likud figures, Yuli Edelstein, who had been chair of the Knesset—which is a position equivalent to speaker of the House—for many years, had absented himself. I don’t mean abstained. He had simply not shown up for one of the key first stage votes of one of the pieces of legislation. So within the Likud, you’re never going to hear people saying we’re against the reform, but the best they can do is say the way it’s being done is too alienating, that we need to call for dialog. So we already knew that there were some cracks in the Likud, and Gallant became the first to openly and publicly state, “I think we should stop this process.” But Netanyahu knew that it could very easily drag with it other Likud figures who had already been privately telling him this has gone awry. And after Netanyahu announced that he would be firing the defense minister, there were, let’s say, speculation and hints being dropped from those figures that they would support the effort to pause the legislation, because him firing the defense minister immediately triggered such an extreme response from the protesters, who within literally half an hour began calling for mass demonstrations, and then within an hour had completely blocked the main traffic highway, and then within two hours, there were tens of thousands of people and then hundreds of thousands of people out in the streets.
And it’s just so interesting to me that Netanyahu seemed to think that firing the defense minister might work out for him in some way.
We’re all trying to play psychoanalyst for Netanyahu. For years now, many of the things he’s done many people think were over the top or inexplicable. And somehow it always seems to work out for him. This time it’s starting to seem like he’s really miscalculated.
On Monday morning, the crisis in Israel seemed to deepen. A general strike was called. And it was interesting to me because, from the beginning, Israel’s business community has been opposed to these judicial reforms. So it seemed to be this moment where in addition to protesters in the street, we had people who were pillars of the community in a different way, saying, “No, we won’t accept what’s happening.” Was that surprising to you?
It was surprising to me. I did expect mass demonstrations. And because I’ve been tracking this issue for a very long time, I wasn’t surprised that there were lots of people on the street expressing their opposition to the reform. I was surprised at how big—the breadth, the endurance. But I don’t think I expected so many different professional, social, and civic communities over the course of these last 12 weeks to become so active and mobilized, each rather independently.
What really was a game changer was when different communities began taking action that disrupted the normal functioning of society—and the demonstrators, too. Closing roads. Blocking traffic on weekdays is an enormous cost to the people who need to go to work to physically be there to get their jobs done.
Finally, on Monday night, Netanyahu released a statement. In it, he announced he was putting the judicial reforms on hold for now. He compared himself to King Solomon, trying—and failing—to split the baby.
He was trying to do what he usually does, which is put it in grand historic terms and make himself seem like a man of gravitas who really understands when there are big tectonic shifts at play and that he is the person who can step in and guide the country, navigate these troubled waters. He portrayed it as this difficulty that has befallen the country.
Which has nothing to do with him, but he’s the great man that can fix it.
As if it just fell out of the sky and hit Israel like a meteor, as if it wasn’t his government, his doing.
He nearly lost his coalition. One of his ministers, the minister of national security, threatened to simply not support the entire endeavor of postponing this and topple the government. And they negotiated about it all day until that minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, decided that he would let the pause go on. If he decides to leave the government, he will continue supporting it from the outside, but so far he hasn’t done that.
Ben-Gvir released a statement saying this reform will pass. This is in no way a backing down.
Exactly. Again, that party really campaigned on exactly this program. So they feel like it is their signature, their raison d’etre. And the question of whether Netanyahu is not really committed to it but just wants them on his side is almost irrelevant. He has thrown his entire political and moral weight behind this, and he is not going to back down from it at an ideological level. If he has any ideological qualms, he is not about to show them to the public. And I don’t think it matters at this point. He is behind it and I think he will try to continue it as long as he needs to to keep his government going.
You said that Netanyahu almost lost his coalition, and many people have observed that basically he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he jammed these reforms through, he would enrage people on the streets. And if he took a pause, he would lose momentum for what he was trying to do. But even though he’s pasted things back together for now, what does that say to you about his strength moving forward and how long he might be in his current position?


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It’s certainly a legitimate analysis to say that he is weaker now in some ways because he’s trapped. He’s trapped into this coalition. He doesn’t have any other coalition partners who will sit under his leadership in government. And this is what the coalition demands. And he has created a monster within the Likud that demands it as well. Having said that, Netanyahu, as we know, is kind of a magician who pulls tricks out of the hat. He has nine lives, to mix all the possible metaphors about a survivor in politics. And it’s true that he seems very much like he has his hands tied and he has no choice but to move forward with this. But again, I wouldn’t portray him as a victim because he has created the momentum in favor of this kind of suppression of judicial independence for years. Whether or not he was personally committed to it hardly matters.
The other thing is that there are also calls for the opposition parties to join his coalition in order to throw a lifeline to the country’s democracy. There is a sense that this is a real S.O.S. and that the longer Netanyahu is in power in a government with a far-right supremacist, nationalist, ultra-Orthodox, and religious parties, this legislation will not go away and it will pass on some level. And therefore, the centrist parties should go into a government with Netanyahu just to preclude him having to move ahead with that kind of legislation.

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After all of the events of the past week or so, do you feel like democracy is safe in Israel?

I don’t think democracy has ever been fully realized in Israel. I think democracy has been missing major foundations from the beginning of statehood. The missing foundations have deepened. The damage done to Israeli democracy over the last decade under Netanyahu’s rule built on the vulnerabilities that were there to begin with.
The problem is not just that there’s a threat to Israeli democracy, but that Israeli democracy was always weak, partial, and compromised. The very fact that we don’t have equality guaranteed in constitutional law really should be a tip off that something is amiss with Israeli democracy in a very long-term sense.

An Israeli civil war?​

Opinion by Marwan Bishara • 20h ago

Thousands of Israelis protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system, in Jerusalem, July 22, 2023. Demonstrators entered the last leg of a four-day and nearly 70km (45-mile) trek from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem [Ohad Zwigenberg/AP Photo]

Thousands of Israelis protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system, in Jerusalem, July 22, 2023. Demonstrators entered the last leg of a four-day and nearly 70km (45-mile) trek from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem [Ohad Zwigenberg/AP Photo]© Provided by Al Jazeera
Israel’s decades-long colonial and religious war against the Palestinians has culminated in what appears to be Jewish civil strife bordering on civil war.
As hundreds of thousands continue to march in the street against the government, the president has warned of standing at the edge of an abyss, while leading commentators warn that a civil war has already started.
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This heating conflict is mainly between two types of Zionism, the pre and post-1967 Zionism; in other words, between the more liberal and secular Zionism and more fanatic and fascistic Zionism.
While these types of Zionism had managed to reconcile their differences throughout the past five decades, Israel’s deepening occupation-cum-apartheid system of Jewish supremacy has provided huge momentum to the extreme elements within the Israeli society.
It has also culminated in the establishment of a new governing coalition of six parties, five of which are “religious” – either ultra-Orthodox, ultra-Zionist or both.
The government is one of the most extreme and racist elements of Israeli society; one that is determined to transform the Jewish communitarian democracy into a fanatical Jewish autocracy, by subjugating Israel’s judiciary to its parliamentary majority, which in turn paves the way to changing its system of government.
A bit of history may help clarify.
Since its inception in 1948 as a settler colonial state, Israel’s leaders have followed in the footsteps of other settler states like the United States, Canada and Australia, by managing the tensions among its different immigrant communities through legal democratic processes. It was the only way to reconcile the differences between, say Iraqi and Polish, or Moroccan and Russian immigrant communities. Needless to say, that has not applied to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who suffered under direct military control through 1966.
Throughout that period, the secular Ashkenazi elites – concentrated in the Labour movement that created and led the earlier settlement of Palestine – had an advantage over the more conservative Sephardic immigrants and religious groups, and became the masters of the land.
But the 1967 war changed that. The occupation and settlement of the rest of East Jerusalem, and the rest of the newly occupied territories, have given vigour and momentum to messianic, fanatical, and hyper-nationalist Israelis ever since.

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Their movement rose to power for the first time in 1977, supported by the marginalised Sephardic Jews and more than a few Labour leaders dreaming of a Greater Land of Israel or total control of all of historic Palestine.
From then on, American complicity in the form of economic and military support has provided the radical Israeli Right with much-needed momentum. And lately, Arab and Palestinian appeasement of fanatical Israel further hardened its racism. The Palestinian Authority has been repressing its own people in order to provide protection to Israel’s entrenching apartheid, rendering its survival an Israeli necessity.
Likewise, the willingness of autocratic Arab regimes to ditch the “land for peace” formula, and to sign up for unconditional peace and normalisation with colonial Israel, has provided Netanyahu and his fanatical allies with the legitimacy and the rationale to double down on their fanatical expansionist policies.
As hundreds of thousands of settlers in hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements proliferated throughout Palestine, blurring the lines between Israel and its occupied territories, it was only a matter of time before the ruling fascists turned inwards, and tried to solidify their fanaticism in Israel as in Palestine, come what may.
When supporters of Minister of National Security Itmar Ben-Gvir follow through on his call to carry arms, those weapons will not only be used against Palestinians – but also against secular, liberal Israelis they abhor no less.
This was hardly unexpected.
In fact, more than five decades ago, the late Prof Yeshayahu Leibowitz, one of Israel’s leading sages, foresaw how after the 1967 war, racism, violence and hatred originating in a religious-messianic worldview and fuelled by the occupation and settlement enterprise, would lead, in his words, to the “rise of Judeo-Nazis”.
And a decade ago, a leading Israeli writer, the late Amos Oz, called the violent “hill-top” Jewish fanatics, in the occupied territories, who are the hardcore supporter of today’s government ministers and who are carrying pogroms against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, “Hebrew neo-Nazis”.
All of which begs the question, why are the more secular and less fanatical Israelis who are filling the streets unwilling or unable to see the link between the deepening apartheid and rising messianic fascism?
The short answer, many are unwilling and many more are incapable. Those unwilling may worry that linking fascism with apartheid will fracture the movement and weaken its momentum. Those incapable of seeing the link want to continue to have their cake and eat it too; they insist that Israel can and must be secular, liberal and democratic while maintaining its Jewish supremacy and oppressive occupation of Palestine.
Judging by the makeup of the Israeli parliament, the latter camp makes up the majority of the opposition to the government and they have a large following among the military brass and the corporate elites. If it were not for the person of Netanyahu, whom they terribly distrust, the likes of National Unity, Yisrael Beytenu and even Yesh Atid parties might have enthusiastically joined a more secular coalition government led by any other leader of the radical right party, Likud.
These parties may in fact end up reaching a compromise with the coalition government on its proposed legislation to somewhat safeguard the system’s liberality towards Jews while allowing it to push ahead with its racist agenda towards the Palestinians within Israel and in the occupied territories.
This may calm the situation, end the street protest, and restore appearances of normality. For a while anyway. But make no mistake, the genie is out of the bottle, and the fanatics, who have moved from the margins to the centre of power, and who feed on conflict and war, will not stop until their messianic redemption is complete, come what may. Preferably apocalyptical.
I do not know where the flaring secular-religious conflict will eventually lead Israel to. But those in the West determined to stop Iran from going nuclear, need to stop their support for an increasingly fanatical nuclear state – Israel, increasingly at war with itself.


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I dont understand why so many common people are so mad about judicial power.

it must be a excuse for another kind of problem.

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