“Boom!” read the headline of a supplement in Israeli weekly Makor Rishon, after two leading politicians, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, announced on December 29 that they were jumping ship from the Jewish Home Party to create the New Right Party. The question Israeli pundits are trying to answer now is whether that boom—or “blast” as most of the press characterizes it—is an explosion or an implosion. Will it strengthen the national camp or will it bring it to its knees?
The Netanyahu government is projecting calm about President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, but no one in Israel, from politicians to pundits, thinks it is good news. Israel’s main fear is that the withdrawal of U.S. forces will create a vacuum into which Iran will expand, affording it greater freedom …
Operation Northern Shield is a victory for Israel. In the early morning hours of Tuesday, Dec. 4, Israel’s military thwarted a Hezbollah plan to attack the country through tunnels. Israel revealed the first tunnel that day. It has since found two others. The Israel Defense Forces estimate there are 10 such tunnels.
“Anyone but King Bibi,” is the sort of derisive comment you’ll hear from a Tel Aviv resident in a bar after a couple of Goldstar lagers. But Israel’s prime minister earned the nickname as praise after his U.N. appearance last week. Like him or not, Benjamin Netanyahu has proven effective at moving the ball down the court on the Iran issue. Even the extreme leftwing Haaretz complimented him for “one of his most convincing and effective performances.”
Jonathan Neumann has written a splendid book. The first-time author has produced a devastating broadside against Jewish radicals who have co-opted tikkun olam—a Hebrew phrase meaning “to heal (or repair) the world”—to claim a special Jewish religious obligation to engage in left-wing politics. “This theology is a contrived religious system,” he writes, “a sort of New Age mysticism that distorts the biblical Creation story and Kabbalistic (Jewish mystical) motifs in order to portray the politics of social justice as an organic Jewish teaching.”
“The Bedouin need to understand that we live in a country of law,” said Yoav Galant, Minister of Construction and Housing on Wednesday, sending a warning shot across the bow of local leaders in an otherwise festive occasion to celebrate the opening of the first-ever Bedouin country club in the city of Rahat in the Negev. “Whoever resides legally can enjoy this country club, public and cultural institutions, and everything else we at the office of construction and housing build,” he said.
Since March 30, when Hamas launched its first “return march” with thousands storming Israel’s border, Israel’s media pundits have said neither side wants escalation. They had it right. What’s being termed “the small arrangement” looks like a big win for Hamas, whose strategy most resembles that of North Korea.
Britain’s Labour Party has undergone a kind of gravitational collapse. Its fringes have fallen into its center, forming a black hole that is a maelstrom of anti-Semitism. Hard to imagine that only a decade ago it was the most mainstream of parties. Its leader Tony Blair preached a mixture of social justice and free markets. The speed with which Labour has fallen to extremists should serve as a wake-up call.
On Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared that the “spirit of Hitler has been revived, Israel is the most fascist and racist state.” He then called on – well, everybody – “to work against Israel.” What sent Erdogan into orbit was Israel’s newly minted Nation-State Law, which passed last week by a vote of 62 to 55 after a boisterous Knesset debate lasting over eight hours.