Can one open the page of an Israeli newspaper paper without wanting to instantly close it?

By David E. Kaplan

Now into the 24th week, “Why are you still protesting?” is the question increasingly asked. Over and above the persistence of the Netanyahu government’s injudicious judicial overhaul, you only have to open the papers nearly every day to either sigh or grunt – with embarrassment.

Top Jewish Canadian philanthropist, Charles Bronfman the co-founder and major sponsor of the Taglit-Birthright programme, had it right when he recently said regarding the Netanyahu coalition:

“…There are some guys in there that shouldn’t be in any government anywhere…”

And yet there they are, making outrageous and dangerous statements that are published locally and then republished abroad.

Ranting and Raving. An animated Tally Gotliv at a legislative committee meeting at the Knesset on Monday, February 20, 2023.

Take the following as reported on 21 June in The Jerusalem Post. Once again Tally Gotliv makes news – bad and embarrassing news, which she seems to be perfecting. Fresh out of her role in the recent Judicial Selection Committee vote fiasco, she tweeted following the horrendous Palestinian terrorist attack leaving four innocent civilian Israelis dead. Exploiting this tragedy for her extreme right-wing agenda, she writes:

I am uncompromisingly right-wing. Wherever a terrorist comes from, the whole place needs to pay. Collective punishment.” 

“Whole place?

She explains:

 “Killing terrorists isn’t enough. It’s heroic and brave, no question, but it’s not enough.” 

No, not enough for Gotliv;  what needs to be done for this member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party is that not only the terrorist’s home should be destroyed but his or her hometown should suffer collective punishment. That should send shivers down any Jewish spine. It reveals – irrespective of one’s politics – why the country is so divided? This expression of Gotliv’s thinking is not an aberration – it’s her mindset! And it’s a mindset shared by others in the Netanyahu coalition.

Dark Times. Already back in May 2022, Supreme Court chief, Esther Hayut, was accusing politicians of seeking to ‘destroy’ Israel’s justice system warning that discourse about the court is ‘deteriorating’ to ‘dangerous places’

Earlier in the year, she blamed the High Court’s chief justice Esther Hayut for a terror attack in which three Israelis were killed. On a tirade tweet she wrote on February 12, 2023 :

 “I blame the High Court Chief Justice for the terror attack. I blame her for the feeling of chaos amongst the people of Israel, I blame her for the destruction and severe damage to democracy and the rule of law.”

Is it any wonder Gotliv wants to undermine the High Court when she has so little respect for it that she can outrageously blame its Chief Justice for the murder of Israelis?  Is it further any wonder that Gotliv put her name forward as a candidate to serve on the Judicial Selection Committee only so she could destroy it from within?

Facing Off. Supreme Court President Esther Hayut (l) and the target of Israel’s extreme right-wing in government and the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin who is spearheading the judicial overhaul.

Is she not precisely a character who Bronfman was referring to when he said:

 “shouldn’t be in any government anywhere…”?

This is precisely why Israel needs not a restricted – as preferred and proposed by Netanyahu’s coalition –  but a robust Supreme Court. If for no other reason, the country needs it no safeguard minority rights that are being increasingly threatened.  On the same day as Gotliv’s outrageous statement, Haredi MK Yitzhak Pindrus said that if it were up to him, he would cancel not just the pride marches in the country, but also get rid of the whole LGBTQ movement.

Uproar in the House. MK Yitzhak Pindrus, whose dream is “to blow up” the Supreme Court is seen here in February 2022 pointing an accusing finger as he is escorted out of the Knesset plenum during a stormy debate.(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

According to this United Torah Judaism MK, the LGBTQ community is the most dangerous risk to the State of Israel.

In an interview with Channel12, he said:

The most dangerous thing for the State of Israel, more than ISIS and Hezbollah is the LGBTQ+ community,” and that “If it were up to me, I would prevent not just the pride march but also the whole movement.”

In other words  you have a member in the coalition believing and publicly expressing that homosexuality is a threat to Israel’s national security! It is more dangerous than Hezbollah that seeks Israel’s destruction and in concert with Iran, is a constant threat on Israel’s northern border? One would be inclined to dismiss this as ‘crazy talk’ and ignore but this man enjoys a crucial vote  in the Knesset and is exercising it to literally ‘take down’ the Supreme Court.  Reflect on what he said on Israel’s 2023 Independence Day in May at the Nehora high-school yeshiva in the Mevo Horon settlement north of Jerusalem. Participating in a panel debate with Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman, who together with Justice Minister Yariv Levin are spearheading the devious judicial overhaul:

You know what my dream is? To bring a D9 [bulldozer] and blow up the building.”

Not content for his coalition colleagues to find more subtle ways to destroy Israeli democracy through the “judicial overhaul”, Pindrus wants to literally demolish the building that is the physical embodiment of that democracy!

Targeting Democracy. Consisting of 15 judges appointed by the President of Israel, upon nomination by the Judicial Selection Committee, Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem is the highest court in in the land and is now the target of Israel’s present right-wing government.

When confronted afterwards by reporters, Pindrus said he had no regrets about what he said but that he spoke “in humour” and that his critics overreacted.

Really? That the character of Israel’s future is a laughing matter?

Is it any wonder that Bronfman said:

 “…There are some guys,” in Netanyahu’s government “that shouldn’t be in any government anywhere…”.

To the question “Why are you still protesting?”, nearly every day brings news of the need to continue protesting and with more vigour.

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).