Israel’s New Government Is Neither a Win Nor a Loss for Either of the Major Parties

On Thursday, when the news broke that Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz had agreed to form a national-unity government, pundits and politicians on both left and right seemed to agree that the incumbent prime minister had managed to outmaneuver his rival. But as details of the coalition agreement emerged, this interpretation began to seem less convincing. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

[A] laundry list of right-wing demands [landed on] the cutting-room floor in the negotiations, despite the huge majority [that] the 58-seat political right will have in the coming Netanyahu-led government. [For instance]: Blue and White’s Avi Nissenkorn, a left-leaning former union leader and the party’s candidate for justice minister, is expected to reverse the right’s efforts to reform and weaken the [outsize powers of the] judiciary and [its attendant legal apparatus].

The list of concessions handed to Gantz so far in the negotiations is long indeed. Gantz demanded and will receive an almost one-to-one ratio of Knesset members to ministries in the new coalition. Netanyahu’s loyal religious-right allies will be lucky to be left with a minister for every four lawmakers.

For Gantz, his enormous cabinet presence of some fifteen ministers (the exact number hasn’t been finalized) isn’t just a sign of his negotiating leverage; it’s a sign of his priorities. His faction is so invested in managing executive-branch agencies that almost no one will be left in the parliament building to push significant legislation or to be a meaningful presence in budget fights. In other words, Gantz isn’t planning to advance the kind of long-term policy shifts that demand legislation.

Does this mean the famously skilled and tenacious Netanyahu has finally lost his touch? Hardly, continues Gur:

Netanyahu made a simple calculation: he needed [the support of Gantz and his party] to obtain a stable coalition—but the smaller [Gantz’s] faction, the better. So he promised Gantz a shared government on an equal one-to-one unity basis, regardless of the number of Knesset members Gantz actually brought with him [into the coalition].

By thus giving Gantz the assurances he needed to break away from his longtime partner Yair Lapid, Netanyahu obtained his Knesset majority—and with the added boon of an “equal” partner that lacked the numbers in the Knesset to pose a serious threat to Likud or Netanyahu. That Lapid, [who represents a secularist faction], would be on the outside didn’t hurt, either; the coalition wouldn’t have to endure the constant strain of Lapid and the ḥaredi parties battling [each other] from within on religion-and-state issues.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2020, Israeli politics

Using the Power of the Law to Fight Anti-Semitism

Examining carefully the problem of anti-Semitism, and sympathy with jihadists, at American universities, Danielle Pletka addresses the very difficult problem of what can be done about it. Pletka avoids such simplistic answers as calling for more education and turns instead to a more promising tool: law. The complex networks of organizations funding and helping to organize campus protests are often connected to malicious states like Qatar, and to U.S.-designated terrorist groups. Thus, without broaching complex questions of freedom of speech, state and federal governments already have ample justifications to crack down. Pletka also suggests various ways existing legal frameworks can be strengthened.

And that’s not all:

What is Congress’s ultimate leverage? Federal funding. Institutions of higher education in the United States will receive north of $200 billion from the federal government in 2024.

[In addition], it is critical to understand that foreign funders have been allowed, more or less, to turn U.S. institutions of higher education into political fiefdoms, with their leaders and faculty serving as spokesmen for foreign interests. Under U.S. law currently, those who enter into contracts or receive funding to advocate for the interest of a foreign government are required to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This requirement is embedded in a criminal statute, and a violation risks jail time. There is no reason compliance by American educational institutions with disclosure laws should not be subject to similar criminal penalties.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus