Israel’s Divided Unity Government

On Monday, after three elections and five weeks of wrangling, the Jewish state’s leading parties have come together to form a governing coalition, having signed—as is customary—a public written agreement. But the terms the two sides have arrived at, Haviv Rettig Gur argues, are both unprecedented and inimical to smooth governance:

The government’s fundamental structure is shaped by the two alliances led, [respectively], by the incumbent prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by the erstwhile opposition leader Benny Gantz: the “Likud bloc” and the “Blue and White bloc.” . . . Either can fire a minister from his own bloc, a power usually reserved for the prime minister alone. And neither—even if he happens to be a prime minister—can fire a minister from the other’s bloc.

The government’s most basic structures, its most powerful committees—such as the security cabinet, which has the power to declare war, or the ministerial legislation committee—are divided between the blocs, with each bloc holding an equal number of members. Each side, [moreover], is given sweeping powers to stymie the other side. Gantz and Netanyahu must agree on every item placed on the cabinet’s agenda.

The new government will struggle to function as a coherent organization. With a central policymaking process not only missing but nigh unattainable in the bifurcated “blocs” formalized in the agreement, individual ministries and the ministers who lead them will find themselves free of the kind of mandatory coordination and centralized control that governments can usually impose on their disparate parts. . . . What will the government’s economic policy look like with a finance minister hailing from economically liberal Likud and an economy minister, Labor’s Amir Peretz, who entered politics through the trade unions?

Israel’s 35th government is being billed by Likud and Blue and White as a “unity government,” but it is more likely to be defined by its disunity, and to be overwhelmed from the start by the mutual suspicion and petty politicking that drove the past year’s political deadlock.

Read more at Times of Israel

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

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University