Israelis Want Leaders Who Have a Vision for a Jewish and Zionist State

If preliminary election results are to be believed, the Religious Zionism party—led by Bezalel Smotrich, and which includes a faction led by the controversial Itamar Ben-Gvir—could get fourteen seats in the next Knesset. Daniel Gordis has little affection for either politician, but argues that they win votes not for their most extreme statements, but because they guarantee something essential that many Israelis want, and that other political figures don’t persuasively offer. To illustrate his point, Gordis cites a campaign video from the center-left incumbent, Yair Lapid:

It’s a perfectly fine, innocuous video. There’s not a platform there that I disagree with. The elderly living with dignity. Combat soldiers having their education supported by the state. Women’s rights. Caring about people with disabilities. Respect and protection for gay and lesbian couples. A liberal Israel. A democratic Israel. All the rest. What’s the problem?

The problem, for me, is that if you translated this video into French and substituted “France” for Israel, Emmanuel Macron could use it in his next campaign. Translated into English with “America” substituted for Israel, it would make a fine video for Liz Cheney or Amy Klobuchar. It’s a lovely video that would work for any modern liberal democracy.

But here’s the rub. I never intended to move to any old modern liberal democracy. Democracy? Of course? Liberal (in the philosophic, not political sense)? Absolutely. But “any old”? Definitely not. I came here to live in a Jewish state, a state that while not imposing religiosity on anyone, would be Jewish in manifold ways, culturally, educationally, in values, and much more.

And in this video, the words “Jewish” and “Zionist” are entirely absent. . . . The first time I watched the video, I felt like I’d been sucker-punched.

That, in short, is why some of Ben-Gvir’s voters voted for him. . . . They may or may not want many things, but what matters to them is that this state not be like France or the United States, that its leaders be mindful that they are at the helm of a Jewish state, the place to which the Jewish people has returned to reconstitute itself.

Read more at Israel from the Inside

More about: Israeli Election 2022, Israeli politics, Itamar Ben Gvir, Yair Lapid


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy