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


In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan