The Israel Brief- 05-08 June 2023

The Israel Brief – 05 June 2023 Update on Egyptian border shooting. Hamas terrorist released. Historic win for Israeli U20 soccer/football. Robbie Williams wows Israel.

The Israel Brief – 06 June 2023 PM Netanyahu speaks to President Sisi. US Secretary of State Blinken heads to Saudi Arabia. Polish delegation in Israel. Guns n Roses rock Israel.

The Israel Brief – 07 June 2023 VP Harris wades into judicial reforms. US official talks Negev Summit. Defense Minister decries criticism of female soldiers. Golda Meir biopic to open film festival.

The Israel Brief – 08 June 2023 Tel Aviv Pride. IDF raze Ramallah house of terrorist. Knesset Ukraine Friendship committee write to President Zelensky. Bruno Mars to rock Israel.

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).


Jewish Canadian philanthropist welcomes demise of present ‘coalition of chaos’ government believing Israel will emerge stronger.

By David E. Kaplan

It was interesting  to read the Ynet newspaper headline that “Charles Bronfman, one of Israel’s most prominent Jewish philanthropists, believes the Israeli government won’t last much longer, as it is only a matter of months before it falls.”

Taglit-Birthright cofounder Charles Bronfman

Whether this Netanyahu coalition does or does not fall – whether within months or longer –  it is sobering hearing who is joining the chorus supporting the demise of Bibi’s “coalition of chaos”.

I continued reading Bronfman’s bombshell with increasing interest as it also brought back personal memories of when I interviewed the Canadian billionaire and co-founder of Taglit-Birthright on the occasion  of the programme’s 10th anniversary in 2009.

At the time of our telephonic interview, Bronfman was preparing to join a flight with 400 North American Birthright participants, where they would be welcomed on arrival at a special ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport by Israel’s then Prime Minister, none other than its current prime minister –  Benjamin Netanyahu. There was then in 2009 much to celebrate. Sponsoring free ten-day heritage trips to Israel for young adults of Jewish heritage, Taglit-Birthright was proving to be the flagship of Israel programmes. Said Bronfman on the Birthright programme in that 2009 exclusive interview:

 “It required a massive infusion of funds, a secure structure and a commitment from many disparate parties to make it work. What we were not short of in the beginning were skeptics. Today there are none.”

So yes, there was much to celebrate back then.  

If today – because of the threat to Israeli democracy by the coalition’s judicial overhaul  – there is less to celebrate, not so  for Bronfman who is buoyed by the 2023 protest movement seeing it as a spontaneous expression of democracy.

This is amazing,” he said referring to the weekly protests now into their twentieth week. “This stopped the legislation and this is also proof that the legislation will not pass. It will not happen, and I believe Israel will come out stronger, the question is in how many days it will take.”

Cry Help – Israel Responds. Taglit-Birthright cofounder Charles Bronfman (left) and the recipient of the 2023 Charles Bronfman Prize Yotam Polizer chief executive officer of IsraAID, the Israel-based non-governmental organization that responds to emergencies all over the world with targeted humanitarian help. (Photo: Meital Pinhas for Phillip Van Nostrand)

Bronfman’s observations and insights were made during a closed conversation at the Charles Bronfman Prize 2023 ceremony in New York, where the $100,000 prize was awarded to Yotam Polizer, chief executive officer of Israel’s international humanitarian aid organization IsraAID.

Often the first to arrive at disaster-struck areas around the world – Sierra Leone, Japan, Greece, Turkey, Nepal, Ukraine, and Sudan to name a few – IsraAID led by Polizer is compared around the world to the International Red Cross.

Bronfman’s posited a personal concern that “in the current political climate in Israel,” it may well become increasingly difficult to convince his grandchildren, who in the future will be leading the family philanthropic endeavours, to contribute to Israel as the family did in the past.

This is a dire warning to Netanyahu. The disturbing direction this government is taking the country will increasingly lose traction with younger generations of Jews. It was already these concerns that inspired Bronfman and his co-partner Michael Steinhardt to initiate the Taglit-Birthright program over two decades ago.

Birthright Visionary. The writer with Charles Bronfman (right) in 2009 at Ben Gurion Airport to cover the arrival of 400 North American Birthright participants marking the 10th anniversary of the Taglit-Birthright program.(Photo D.E. Kaplan)

Michael and I came at this from different perspectives,” he revealed to me in the interview. “Michael wanted to “plug the dam of assimilation” as he put it. For him this was the number one problem confronting world Jewry and he argued that the program could impact enormously on enriching Jewish life in the Diaspora. While not discounting the importance of stemming the tide of assimilation, I was however more interested in forging a closer relationship between Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora. I believed that together, we could be a real force for good in the world – separately, we might fall apart. It was a case of the age-old saying “United we stand, divided we fall.” I was looking to forge a stronger Jewish world.”

Time have Changed. Once united collogues in the Likud party, Dan Meridor (right) seen here with PM Netanyahu, now a major opponent of the Prime Minister’s assault on Israel’s internationally respected judiciary.

Is this present Israeli government not a threat to the visions of Taglit-Birthright? Are not the misguided actions of Netanyahu’s coalition  more likely to weaken rather than strengthen “to forge a stronger Jewish world”? The protesters on Israel’s streets every Saturday night know the answer. So does the long-standing Likud member Dan Meridor who was alsopresent at the high profile ceremony at New York’s Historical Society Museum. Concurring with Bronfman in taking a justifiable dig at Israel “coalition of chaos”, Meridor, a former Israeli Minister of Justice and a member of the prize committee, said that “unlike those in the government” leading the controversial judicial overhaul, the people on the stage “care about humanity” and not their positions!

This was quite an indictment from this long-time member of the Likud party who apart from his service as justice minister, had at various times, served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy. Back in January 2023, Meridor accused Netanyahu of placing his ambition for power ahead of the country’s best interest by literally “selling out” Israel’s democratic character to win over coalition partners by acceding to their controversial demands.

Voice of Reason. Nachman Shai (2nd left), the IDF’s most trusted voice during the Gulf War was again a trusted voice when he criticized the Netanyahu government’s initiative to overhaul the judiciary at the protest in Kfar-Saba on the 3 June 2023. Seen here with the guest speaker are (l-r) Warren Samuels, the writer, Hilary Kaplan, Janine and Danny Gelley and Jackie Samuels. Liron Samuels, the son of Warren and Jackey was injured by the police at a protest the previous evening and was hospitalized.

Speaking to Ynet, Bronfman said:

 “It won’t be a matter of years, it’s a matter of months. This government will fall, I’m sure of that. You read the polls, I read the polls. There are some guys in there that shouldn’t be in any government anywhere. I’m confident that the government will fall in a matter of months, and a year from now we will stand here and we all say Mazal Tov!”

For Bronfman’s prediction to materialize – whether in a few months or longer – the protests must continue.

Which means hundreds of thousands of Israelis know what they will again be doing this Saturday night!

Police Violence. Liron Samuels shows his injuries at the protest in Kfar-Saba that he sustained by the police at a protest the previous night in Caesarea. His account of what happened went viral on the social media.

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).