In a tweet on Sunday, actress/producer Noa Tishby bemoaned the termination of her unpaid position as Israel’s Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel. Author of the 2021 book Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, she was appointed last April by then-foreign minister Yair Lapid to the heretofore nonexistent role.
The selection of the US-based native Israeli for the mission initially raised a few eyebrows, including my own. Like other skeptics, I assumed that she was chosen more for her drop-dead gorgeous looks than any gravitas she might possess, based on the tired idea that what the Jewish state needs in the battle against global vilification, is better branding.
Whether this was Lapid’s thinking when he hired Tishby is unclear, but she quickly rendered the question moot. Within weeks, I was singing her praises in print, insisting that she deserved “not only an apology, but accolades, from those who doubted her abilities.”
Particularly impressive was her swift and accurate response to the propaganda campaign that followed the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera correspondent caught in the crossfire of an IDF raid on terrorists in the Palestinian Authority city of Jenin. Tishby promptly took to Twitter to counter widespread accusations that Abu Akleh had been targeted by Israeli forces for assassination. She then narrated a Tik Tok video about journalists killed in war zones between 1990 and 2020.
“Each one of these [2,658] deaths is horrific,” she acknowledged. “But you can’t name the other 2,657… You can only name the one [who] was killed in clashes between Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli army. In any of the other deaths, we did not see such vitriol, hateful, horrific reactions and rhetoric as we’ve seen by the international community, social media, celebrities and the United Nations towards Israel.”
This, she concluded in the clip that went viral, “is what we call a double standard… and it’s purely rooted in sometimes subconscious antisemitism, anti-Jewish racism.”
Tishby has been consistent in denouncing BDS and exposing Jew-hatred, including that disguised as criticism of Israeli policies. It’s no small feat, especially for a fashionable liberal who resides in California.
Elections come about
FAST-FORWARD a few months to the November 1 Knesset elections, which gave rise to the current right-wing coalition, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They also resulted in Lapid’s becoming leader of the opposition.
Though the latter’s pick, Tishby wasn’t at risk of ouster by the new government – not until she attacked it, that is. Her first act of aggression was an op-ed on March 10 in the Hebrew news site Ynet. Her second, on March 18, was an appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
In the article, which has been translated and quoted by outlets everywhere, she wrote: “In more than 20 years, I have not spoken out against any step taken by any government. If I had something to say, I said it behind closed doors, in Hebrew, and only to those who needed it. I have been talking about Israel to the world for more than 20 years, and this is the first time I feel the need to talk to the world about Israel.”
She went on to parrot the hyperbole of Lapid and the rest of the protest movement aiming to topple Netanyahu and his partners, on the grounds that their judicial-reform plans will destroy Israeli democracy.
“I will say it in the sharpest and clearest way: Diaspora Jewry and Israel’s supporters in the world are shocked,” she stated. “With great pain they look and see how the country they fiercely defended – in Congress, in the press, on social media or before foreign governments – is changing its face. And the world will not come to Israel’s aid.”
Yes, she warned, “world Jewry is invested in Israel on an emotional, national and economic level. And now they see that the country they support is about to undergo a coup and become something else. They are overwhelmed, at a loss. I hear day and night how much support for Israel will drop. This isn’t a reform; it’s a coup. And this coup is a danger to the national security of the State of Israel.”
In addition to further painting a totally distorted picture of the worthy goal of judicial reform – to restore the balance of power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches – she slipped in a nasty dig at the Kohelet Policy Forum. The leaders of the “resistance” and their foot soldiers (a number of whom broke into the think tank’s Jerusalem office on Sunday and harassed its staff) would have been pleased with her adherence to their talking points.
Playing the humble card, she said, “I’m not some big hero for expressing my opinion now. I’m just joining all the heads of the National Security Council, former heads of the security services, judges and lawyers, hi-tech workers, bank managers, reservists, pilots, hundreds of thousands of concerned Israeli citizens, the president of our country [Isaac Herzog], the entire United Nations and one Joe Biden.”
For spice, she added sarcastically, “All the millions of citizens who voted for the current government must at least agree that there is nothing that [Justice Minister] Levin and [Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK] Simcha Rothman know better than this entire distinguished list. Nothing.”
She sure got that wrong, on all counts. But never mind. She ended by lauding Herzog for admonishing that if the “coup” takes place, Israel’s enemies will be “rubbing their hands with glee.”
These external foes, she said, “claim that we are an apartheid, tyrannical, dark, bigoted, religious fanatical, undemocratic country. We argue the opposite and give our Supreme Court as an example of an inspiring liberal democracy. And I know we are right. Still. Let’s not let our enemies say, ‘We told you so.’”
In other words, if judicial reform is implemented by the democratically elected government, Israel’s enemies will be proven right. Wow, what a way to fight antisemitism.
The Bill Maher interview
STRIKING AN ostensibly positive note during her interview with Maher, she called the street demonstrations “extraordinarily creative.” The Israeli people “are rebelling,” she declared proudly, ignoring the rest of the public – you know, the masses who voted for the government and still ardently support judicial reform.
As misguided as her portrayal of the situation may be, Tishby is free to share it. But she shouldn’t have expected the government she’s been bashing to want to keep her on as a representative.
Nevertheless, she told her Twitter followers of the “disappointment and sadness” she experienced at being dismissed. She also said that it’s impossible for her to know whether the government’s decision was “driven by [her] publicly stated concerns about [its] judicial reform policy. But given the reality that antisemitism continues its dangerous rise globally, and the threat to Israel’s existence through delegitimization policies has not slowed, it is difficult to come to any other reasonable conclusion.”
Dear Friends,It is with disappointment and sadness, but an enduring determination, that I can confirm that the current Israeli government has dismissed me as Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel.It is not possible for me to know if their… pic.twitter.com/Yt4c7v5str— (((noa tishby))) (@noatishby) April 2, 2023
Perhaps, Noa. The trouble is that, according to the letter you received from Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Public Diplomacy Emmanual Nahshon, your contract ended on December 31. That’s well before your recent displays of political partisanship.
“When I accepted the Special Envoy position from… Lapid, I did so because the threat to Jews around the world is as significant today as any other point since the Holocaust, and the risks to Israel are as great today as they have been since our nation’s birth,” she recounted. “As an advocate for justice and equality, I felt an obligation to stand with the many others united in the fight against hate.”
However, she insisted, “that does not mean I must suppress my views... I voiced concerns because I believe absolutely in the importance of an independent judiciary in safeguarding the democratic system.”
INDEED, SHE pontificated, “open and honest debate with those in government is at the core of Israel’s long-term well-being and our status as the region’s single consistent democracy. True patriotism involves standing up for the values and principles that form the foundation of our nation, even when it means questioning or opposing policies implemented by this or any government.”
Interesting. She must have forgotten emphasizing that this is the first time she’s ever openly aired such grievances.
It seems to have escaped her, as well, that nobody’s stopping her from doing so now either. All she’s being denied is a renewal of her lengthy title and stamp of officialdom.