Monday, March 4, 2024
Monday, March 4, 2024
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Netanyahu Cannot Be Trusted: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times,  Mar.28, 2023

“Thank goodness that Israel’s civil society has forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pause, for now, his attempt to impose his control over Israel’s independent judiciary and gain a free hand to rule as he wishes. But this whole affair has exposed a new and troubling reality for the United States: For the first time, the leader of Israel is an irrational actor, a danger not only to Israelis but also to important American interests and values.

“This demands an immediate reassessment by both President Biden and the pro-Israel Jewish lobby in America. Netanyahu essentially told them all: ‘Trust the process,’ ‘Israel is a healthy democracy’ and, in a whisper, ‘Don’t worry about the religious zealots and Jewish supremacists I brought into power to help block my trial for corruption. I will keep Israel within its traditional political and foreign policy boundaries. It’s me, your old pal, Bibi.’ … They wanted to trust him, and it all turned out to be a lie. …
Let’s see what happens. But one thing is clear already: Netanyahu has become the definition of an irrational actor in international relations — someone whose behavior we can no longer predict and whose words President Biden should not trust.

“For starters, the U.S. needs to make sure Netanyahu does not use U.S. weapons to engage in any kind of war of choice with Iran or Hezbollah without the full and independent endorsement of Israel’s military high command, which has opposed his judicial putsch. … How would you describe an Israeli prime minister and his son who, after 50 years of the United States sending Israel billions and billions of dollars in economic and military assistance, have been disseminating the lie that the U.S. government was behind the massive demonstrations against the prime minister — that this couldn’t possibly be an authentic grass-roots mainstream protest? It had to be U.S.-funded. . .This is not the only sign of what an irrational actor Netanyahu has become. Ask yourself: What rational Israeli prime minister would risk fracturing his military — which this judicial takeover attempt has been doing — at a time when Iran can now whip up enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb in under two weeks, and is racking up diplomatic achievements with Israel’s Arab allies?”


“There is an extreme minority that is ready to tear our country into parts. It tends towards violence. It ignites fire. It threatens to harm elected officials. It talks about civil war. And it calls for insubordination, which is a terrible crime. The State of Israel cannot exist without the IDF, and the IDF cannot exist with insubordination. … Therefore, I demand that our security forces and the IDF’s commanders to oppose the phenomenon of insubordination. Not to contain it, not to understand it. To stop it. For three months, I have called for dialogue. I also said that I would leave no stone unturned in order to reach a solution. Because I remember, we remember, that we are not facing enemies: we are facing our brothers.

“I say here and now: we must not have a civil war. We are now on a path towards a very dangerous collision in Israeli society, which jeopardizes the basic unity between us, and such a crisis obligates all of us to act responsibly. Out of national responsibility, out of a desire to prevent a rift in the nation, I have decided to postpone the second third reading of the law in this session of the Knesset in order to give time to try to reach a wide agreement on the legislation in the next session of the Knesset. This way, we will bring about a reform that will restore the balance which has been lost, while maintaining and even strengthening human and individual rights.” – Israeli PM Benjamin Natanyahu (Israel National News, Mar. 27, 2023)
“I also didn’t want to halt [the overhaul legislation], but I think we have to leave [this meeting] with the statement that keeping the government together is more important than the legislation.” — Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Stomach
Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir: “We are letting the anarchists win.” Smotrich: “We’re not letting them win. We’ll only halt the legislation for a few months.” (Times of IsraelMar. 27, 2023)
“There’s a lot of tension right now and I wish it wasn’t so, but I’m quite confident that we’ll get over this difficulty, because you have to reform things that get ossified. Right now, you have a situation where 15 unelected members of the supreme court effectively govern Israel. They can decide things that affect our military, our economy,, our foreign relations, our battle with terrorism, is that right? Is that democratic? No. . . .” — Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu, interviewed by Piers Morgan.  (NY Post, Mar. 26, 2023)
“Let’s say the quiet part out loud: The mob came to target me because they hate my work and my ideas. None of this spectacle, this obviously public shaming, had the slightest to do with free speech. It had everything to do with intimidation. And to be clear, not intimidating me. I’m not intimidated by this. I’m a life-tenured judge. I’m going to go back to my court and keep writing opinions. No, the target of the intimidation was the protesters’ fellow students.” ) — U.S. Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan at the University of Notre Dame, about being jeered and interrupted at an earlier invited speech at Stanford University Law School. (Washington TimesMar. 24, 2023)
”[M]any of those who press these manias [men can get pregnant, Lincoln favored slavery, CRT on race is true, gender is a matter of personal preference, transvestite lap-dancers performing for kindergartners is “educational”, etc.] are dead serious. That doesn’t mean they aren’t putting over a con. . . Moreover, they have on their side the president, university es, school boards, regulatory agencies, professional and athletic associations, many courts and churches, one of the major political parties, and most of the media [and Hollywood and major corporations—Ed.]. . . Unfortunately, the derangement has real world consequences. The identity ideologues pose an existential threat for the culture, which increasingly affects the everyday lives of individuals, families, and children. . . The normalization of disorder and empowerment of lunacy are not to be taken lightly. . . .” — J. Budziszewski (WSJMar. 27, 2023)
”For a long time we tolerated campus behavior much as we used to tolerate the behavior of toddlers. They’ll grow out of it, we thought, when they enter the real world. But the joke was on us. They graduated into the real world and started to impose their views on it. Weak-kneed managers, eager to protect their privileges and preserve a quiet life… couldn’t face the hostility they’d get from their employees and a media of the same ideological mindset [always aired their] grievances. . . [I]t advances without publicity, as steadily, day by day, the former campus totalitarians make their way in the ‘real world’. It’s time employers started to resist, and began to educate their employees—the hard way if necessary—why free speech is so important. They’ll find this juice is definitely worth the squeeze.” — Gerard Baker(WSJMar. 27, 2023)
“Our deterrence against Iran is broken.” — Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) who chairs The House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement following Iranian-backed militias’ drone attacks on American forces in north-eastern Syria, which killed one American contractor and wounded several others. The U.S. claimed its jet fighters’ response killed eight Iranian and Hezbollah militants [Media reports claim there have been almost eighty similar attacks over the last year or so, largely unnoted by the Biden Administration and unreported by major media—Ed.]. (WSJ, Mar. 25, 2023)
“We will show the country how to end the war on American energy, become energy independent again, and lower costs for hardworking families who are struggling under the weight of President Biden’s radical agenda.” — House Majority leader Steve Scalise (R.-Louisiana), introducing H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Cost Act, which would reverse President Biden’s “climate change”-driven shut-down of domestic oil and gas production, amend the National Environmental Policy Act, its legal bedrock, and cap judicial review periods for lawsuits to speed up energy projects. (Washington Times, Mar. 14, 2023)
“My response was, ‘Holy crap. We are going to lose if we fight like this.” — Air Force officer Clint Hinote, today a lieutenant general, returning from Baghdad in the spring of 2018 to a new assignment, participation in a wargame simulating a Chinese push to take control of the South China Sea. He learned that China’s well-stocked missile force would have rained destruction down on the bases and ports the U.S. relied on in the region, turning American ships and combat aircraft into smouldering heaps. [Today, as China’s navy and air force, and nuclear arms and bases, grow exponentially, the U.S.’s decline in numbers and readiness—Ed.]  (WSJ, Mar. 6, 2023)

“Alvin Bragg may actually do it. The Manhattan district attorney is by all media accounts preparing to indict Donald Trump for failing to account properly for hush money paid to his alleged mistress, unleashing who knows what political furies. … It’s impossible to overstate Mr. Bragg’s bad judgment here. Perhaps the local Democratic DA has discovered some new proof of criminal behavior. But based on the public evidence so far, he would be resurrecting a seven-year-old case that even federal prosecutors refused to bring to court.” – Editorial board.  (WSJ, Mar. 19, 2023)

                                     SHORT TAKES

FACING OUTCRY, NETANYAHU DELAYS JUDICIAL OVERHAUL (Jerusalem) — Israeli P.M. Netanyahu pulls his country back from brink of deep conflict by suspending the controversial judicial-overhaul plan. Postponing parliamentary decisions on the proposed legislation until after the coming Passover holiday, Netanyahu in a televised address Monday evening to the nation said “When it is possible to prevent a civil war through dialogue, I, as prime minister, will take the time for dialogue” (WSJMar.  27, 2023)
NETANYAHU FIRES GALLANT, SAYS HE ‘LOST TRUST’ IN DEFENSE MINISTER (Jerusalem) – Israeli PM Netanyahu told Yoav Gallant he lost trust in his defense minister after he “went behind the government’s back” and called for a halt to the judicial reform. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2023)
‘HISTORIC’ STRIKE: ISRAEL SHUTTING DOWN; FLIGHTS, MEDICAL SERVICES, PRE-SCHOOLS CANCELED (Jerusalem) — The mass protest against the government’s planned judicial reforms leapt up several notches Monday as a slew of shutdowns were announced that should affect every citizen in the country. he Israel Medical Association joined the call, saying that all public hospitals and community clinics would stop all but life-saving treatments and services. The head of the workers’ committee at the Airports Authority immediately announced the partial shutdown of Ben-Gurion Airport by preventing all departures while allowing planes to land. As of this writing, the strike had yet to go into effect. (WIN, Mar. 27, 2023)
NOBEL PRIZE WINNING ECONOMIST: JUDICIAL REFORM OPPONENTS’ ECONOMIC FEARS ARE UNFOUNDED (Jerusalem) —Israeli Nobel Prize winner Prof Robert Aumann warns that predictions of economic doom and collapse related to the Supreme Court issue are a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  (Israel National News, Mar. 24, 2023)
TUNNELS USED FOR MISSILE PRODUCTION IN SYRIA ATTACKED IN MONDAY AIRSTRIKE (Damascus) — An intelligence report by satellite and intelligence solutions company ImageSat International (ISI) was able to determine that based on satellite images, an attack in Syria on March 12 included attacks on entrances to underground tunnels. According to intelligence estimates, these tunnels contained the means for producing surface-to-surface missiles. The intelligence report also states that the same location has already been attacked several times in the past. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2023)
SYRIAN SPY CAUGHT BY ISRAEL REVEALS HEZBOLLAH’S METHODS (Damascus) — A Syrian national arrested by Israeli security forces and accused of spying for Hezbollah revealed during his interrogation the terror group’s espionage methods at the northern Israeli border.  Ghaith Abdullah, 24, was arrested last January after entering Israeli territory and faces charges of being a member of a terrorist group, espionage and providing support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations. (Ynet, Mar. 22, 2023)
JORDAN HOLDS VOTE TO EXPEL ISRAELI AMBASSADOR FLAUNTING IMAGE OF ‘GREATER JORDAN’ (Amman) — The Jordanian Parliament on Wednesday voted to expel Israel’s ambassador to Jordan while displaying an image showing all of Israel under Jordanian control after Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich gave a controversial speech in France at a podium depicting Jordan as part of Israel. Jordanian media also posted images of MP Ismail Al-Mashaqbeh placing an Israeli flag on the ground and walking on it a sign of disrespect. (Algemeiner, Mar. 22, 2023)
FORMER GENERALS AND ADMIRALS URGE US TO ARM ISRAEL TO PREVENT NUCLEAR IRAN (Washington) — 44 retired officers from the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines published an open letter on Tuesday urging the United States to provide advanced weapons to Israel to deter and prevent a nuclear Iran. The letter, organized by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) and published in the political publication The Hill, calls for the delivery to Israel of C-46A aerial refueling tankers, F-15I and F-35 multirole fighters, and precision-guided bombs. (Algemeiner, Mar. 22, 2023)
ULTRA-ORTHODOX GIRLS BOAST RECORD-BREAKING 96% PASS RATE IN ISRAEL’S TOUGH CPA EXAMS (Jerusalem) – Israeli lawmaker Moshe Gafni (UTJ), who chairs the Finance Committee, this week hailed a record-breaking 96% pass rates for Israel’s CPA exams by ultra-Orthodox Beis Yaakov seminar students, beating out leading universities by a large margin. Of the 95 young charedi women who took the test, which is known for being extremely difficult, 91 passed. Bar Ilan University came second, but by a much lower pass rate. Of the 97 students who sat the exam, only 67% passed. Tel Aviv University recorded a pass rate of 54% for 39 students, while only 34% of the 47 students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem passed. (WIN, Mar. 26, 2023)

MCGILL STUDENT NEWSPAPER REJECTS OPINION ARTICLE BY PRO-ISRAEL STUDENT: ‘ZIONISM HAS PERPETUATED ETHNIC CLEANSING (Montreal) — A student-run newspaper associated with McGill University rejected a student opinion piece discussing “ZIonism,” on grounds that “Zionism is a settler-colonial ideology that has perpetuated the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” According to HonestReporting Canada, the student, Claire Frankel, submitted her column entitled “Queer McGill is not a safe space for Jews” to the McGill Tribune opinion section for publication but on Sunday, over two weeks later, received a notice of rejection as the article “doesn’t align with our values as a paper.” (United With Israel, Mar. 28, 2023)

ATTACK ON JEWISH LEADER IN FINLAND SENDS SHOCKWAVES (Helsinki) — Finland’s leaders strongly condemned an assault on a Jewish lawmaker who was assaulted and punched in the face Saturday while campaigning for the country’s April 2 general election. President Sauli Niinisto tweeted that Saturday’s physical attack on veteran conservative politician Ben Zyskowicz, 68, was “a cowardly act” that delivered a blow to Finnish democracy. (Israel Hayom, Mar. 26, 2023)
BILLIONAIRE LAUNCHES ANTISEMITISM FIGHT (New England) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has donated $25 million to one of his organizations, the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, to make Americans aware of the fact of increasingly widespread antisemitism in the U.S. “We need a way to find and enlist all Americans to help us fight this. If we don’t get it in check I really think it’ll impact our way of life in this country”. (WSJMar. 27, 2023)
SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES NOT DOING ENOUGH TO COMBAT RAMPANT ANTISEMITISM: REPORT (Los Angeles) — The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) on Tuesday released a “Digital Terrorism and Hate Report Card,” which indicated major social media platforms such as Tik Tok and Twitter had significant problems addressing and moderating the proliferation of antisemitic content on their sites. Facebook, which also owns and administers Instagram, earned a C, while Tik Tok and Twitter were given a D and D. Google and reddit received the highest grades of all platforms assessed by SWC, earning and B and B-. (Algemeiner, Mar. 24, 2023)


Anti-Reform Protests Reveal Police Double Standards – Analysis:  David Isaac, World Israel News, Mar. 24, 2023 — What began as Saturday evening mass protests against the government’s judicial reform program have morphed into “days of disruption” and increasingly extreme behavior as demonstrators block highways, clash with police, blockade Knesset members in their homes, refuse to show up for reserve duty, and, in one instance, barricade the prime minister’s wife in a hair salon.


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