Amid Growing Social Tensions in Israel, a Moment of Unexpected Solidarity

March 27 2023

In the intense controversy currently raging in Israel over judicial reform, those opposed to reform are often motivated by fear of the growing political power of Ḥaredim, whose parties are part of the governing coalition. Thus the decision last week of anti-reform protestors to march from cosmopolitan Tel Aviv into the adjacent ḥaredi enclave of Bnei Brak seemed like it might fan the flames of conflict. It did not, as Michael Selutin reports:

It was expected that the demonstrators’ rainbow flags, as well as their aggressive demeanor with left-wing slogans, would provoke the residents of Bnei Brak. Police had prepared for violent clashes, while urging the demonstrators not to enter the Orthodox city.

What happened next, however, nobody expected. Instead of allowing themselves to be provoked and reacting to aggression with aggression, the . . . city’s Orthodox Jews greeted the demonstrators with drinks and warm cholent, a Jewish dish prepared for Shabbat. Jewish music was played, people danced, and the demonstrators’ aggression subsided immediately. . . . It was probably the first time for many of those present that they had met people who were so opposed to their own lifestyle. Orthodox and progressives finally spoke to one another.

In the event, neither anti-ḥaredi sentiment among the protestors, nor anti-secular sentiment among the Ḥaredim, won the day.

Read more at Israel Today

More about: Haredim, Israeli politics, Israeli society


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