An update on current political events in Israel

Today I want to mention a number of current events that for me are significant.

A VIEW of the Mitzpe Kramim outpost. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote, ‘I regret the mistaken High Court of Justice decision on the evacuation of Mitzpe Kramin.’  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
A VIEW of the Mitzpe Kramim outpost. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote, ‘I regret the mistaken High Court of Justice decision on the evacuation of Mitzpe Kramin.’
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
We have just entered the year 5781 of the Jewish calendar. Unlike some faiths, we do not celebrate with fireworks, elaborate parties or excessive alcohol. We pray for forgiveness of our sins against God, and hope that during the 10 days of repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, God will hear our prayers, forgive our sins and seal us in all the good books.
It must be stressed that this applies only to transgressions against God. Any wrongdoing against our fellow man can only be forgiven by the person who was wronged. Only if he or she forgives, will God forgive as well. It is an antisemitic libel that Jews can do wrong to non-Jews all year long, and then be forgiven on Yom Kippur.
Today I want to mention a number of current events that for me are significant.
I can do no better than begin by quoting from an article by David Isaac on World Israel News: “Israel’s Supreme Court appears to be on a mission to erase any doubts within the Israeli public that it has been corrupted by politics.”
That has been evident in very many of the court’s judgments about disputes between Palestinian Arabs and their Jewish neighbors, as well as in legal disagreements with the decisions of our legislators in the Knesset.
We hear almost every week of indictments or judgments that have political undertones. Only this month there was the case of Mitzpe Kramim, a Jewish settlement on a hilltop in Samaria that was established in 1999 with government approval, and today houses some 40 families. Now the Supreme Court ordered its evacuation because it is claimed to be on Arab land.
I argue that there is confusion on which law Arab claims are based. The law of the Ottoman Empire that ruled this land 130 years ago? Surely that cannot apply in our state. Or is it on the basis of Jordanian law?
Recall that when Jordan illegally occupied the so-called West Bank between 1948 and 1967, it illegally distributed parcels of land to Arabs. This was in contravention of the 1948 British departure in favor of a Jewish state, which meant the land became Jewish state land and that the old Ottoman law, illegal Jordanian law and British law became void. I believe that therefore there can be no legitimate Arab claim to our land.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote, “I regret the mistaken High Court of Justice decision on the evacuation of Mitzpe Kramin. I have instructed Prime Minister’s Office Director General Ronen Peretz to meet with representatives of the community. We will exhaust all processes in order to leave the residents in their place and we are convinced that we will succeed.”
Of course, Israel does not exercise ethnic cleansing, so taking a pragmatic view, the existing Arab villages and their cultivated land will remain in their hands, or they are free to sell to the state should they so wish.
ILLEGAL EXPANSION of the Arab villages, however, must be halted. Additionally, any uncultivated land belongs to the state and must be made legally available for Jewish settlement, regardless of its location.
“It is unbelievable” said a Regavim spokesman “that Arab construction is allowed to run wild in the area, including in Area C,” which is under full Israeli control, “with the authorities slow to act or tolerating it, yet at the same time the authorities show zero tolerance to Jewish construction or settlement expansion.”
The High Court showed that the judgments are not blind but politically motivated. Our judges have demonstrated the truth of the Midrash, the ancient rabbinic interpretation of scripture by our sages.
In Midrash Tanhuma, Metzora, Siman 1, Rabbi Eleazar said, “Anyone who becomes merciful upon the cruel one will end by being cruel to the merciful.”
The court prevented a lawful military order to destroy the home of the terrorist who murdered IDF Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal. The reason was that it would hurt the family who, so they said, had no part in the murder. I wonder how they know. As I understand it, this argument could be applied to remove that deterrent in every case where the murderer lives with his family.
There are also numerous recent cases when it seemed that according to our courts, personal sidearms carried by licensed Jewish civilians were for decoration only.
In too many cases, their discharge for self-defense, even when aiming high, has been interpreted as unjustified and the holder was brought before the court and found guilty, while the Arab who threatened him was looked upon as the victim, even though he was not targeted. Only video evidence could ever change the verdict. Another example of biased judgment.
Caroline Glick noted that according to a poll by Globes news last November, 72% of Israelis believe police and state prosecutors engage in selective law enforcement. It would not be difficult to list a lot more cases.
Then there are the many documented instances where the High court assumed the powers of the legislature and overturned laws that were legally legislated by the Knesset. It is high time for the wings of the High Court to be clipped.
Our scientists, like those in a host of laboratories around the world, are working furiously to find an effective vaccine that will halt the COVID-19 pandemic. Israel is not alone in trying to balance the economy with efforts to achieve the goal of reduced morbidity.
While it is imperative to allow the economy to function even in a reduced form, it is not easy to achieve that goal without inconvenient restrictions to the population.
Our government has appointed an eminent public health expert, former Health Ministry director general Prof. Ronni Gamzu, to oversee, advise, and suggest methods to help arrest the speed of transmission of COVID-19, particularly within Arab and Jewish neighborhoods where large religious communal activities are prevalent.
YOU WOULD think that once appointed, members of the cabinet, who have no medical knowledge, would want to follow the advice of their appointee.
But this is Israel, where every minister, and we have dozens, has his own opinion and believes that it his right to express it publicly. The result is what we experience today in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet it is a constitutional convention in parliamentary systems that members of the cabinet must publicly support all governmental decisions made in cabinet, even if they do not privately agree with them. That is known as Cabinet collective responsibility, but apparently not in Israel.
Netanyahu needs the support of the religious parties. Already the ultra-Orthodox rebel former minister Ya’acov Litzman resigned in protest of a probable total lockdown over the complete High Holy Day period, as the restrictions that affect his community, the yeshivot, the Jewish educational study centers and synagogue services. We already see repercussions from the religious parties. Even Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau has protested.
Directives are changed literally by the hour, as happened last week when the lockdown of designated localities was quickly changed to night curfew.
That too has been countermanded and on Wednesday as I prepared this article, there was still uncertainty about the situation during the upcoming Yom Kippur and Sukkot period.
One Knesset member from the left-wing Meretz Party put it like this: “Netanyahu gives them [the ultra-Orthodox] whatever they desire, and in return they keep him out of jail,” referring to the PM’s forthcoming trial.
Restrictions hurt, but the alternative would be having to live with this virus and suffering the resulting mass deaths until a safe vaccine can be found, and there is no telling when that will be.
Amazingly, while all this was going on, our prime minister deserted the heavily listing ship of state in favor of a photo opportunity with the US president at the signing of the UAE-Israel peace treaty. It seems that Netanyahu cares more for his relationship with Donald Trump than he does for the health of the nation. Admittedly, he kept in contact, but that’s not quite the same.
Then there is the Serbia-Kosovo peace treaty, which had an effect on Israel. Briefly, the Serbian province of Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence in February 2008, and since then the two countries have been at war.
Trump brought their two current leaders together to sign a peace treaty. Serbia did so reluctantly. Up until now, Israel did not recognize Kosovo, because that would set a precedent for recognition of an independent State of Palestine, but since we always do what Trump says, Israel has now recognized Kosovo.
There is a prize, however. Quite apart from the shelving of sovereignty, Serbia, which was preparing to establish an embassy here, has now retracted that plan because of Israel’s recognition of Kosovo, which will open an embassy in Jerusalem. The diplomatic world has nooks and crannies that are not easy to negotiate.

The writer is host of Walter’s World on Israel National Radio (Arutz 7) and The Walter Bingham File on Israel Newstalk Radio, both of which are in English.