I am always trying to strike a careful balance between my support for Israel and the need for constructive criticism regarding Israels internal and foreign policies.
Unfortunately, the formation of the 4th Netanyahu government raises a series of troubling issues that must be addressed without personal concern for being criticized as anti-Israel, or worse.
PM Netanyahu again demonstrated his superb political skills to form a government from a hotchpotch of unlikely political partners but, in my opinion, he paid a steep price to stay in power and to form a government which is one vote shy of failure. Here are some of my concerns:
According to the coalition agreement Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brokered with the religious parties, more than 8 billions of shekels are being poured in a system that does nothing to address the poverty in the sector. It will maintain and expand religious education institutions without without insisting the integration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) into their curriculum. This will create more Torah scholars who do not meet the demands of a high-tech society for educated professionals that must compete on the international market. In addition, ALL policies and legislation’s of the previous government to demand the integration of yeshiva students into the IDF are being deferred indefinitely. Who will pay for these subsidies? The Israeli taxpayers who are the freiers, or suckers.
With the integration of the most radical right wing parties a Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement including territorial concessions will be as likely as winning the lottery. According to Tzipi Hotovely, Israels Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, ” all of this land is ours” and that “we expect as a matter of principle of the international community to recognize Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland everywhere.” This position is considered to be unacceptable by almost all countries in the world, will void any bilateral solution and will automatically lead to an internationalization of the conflict and eventually enforce a deal that will not be in Israel’s interest.
Israel’s deputy defense minister, Eli Ben Dahan, a member of the extreme right wing, pro-settlement Jewish Home Party, supported a pilot project to separate Palestinians and Jews on buses in the occupied West Bank citing security need. The bus plan was conceived by the Israeli Defense Ministry, in response to pressure from Jewish settlers who have long demanded separate transportation for the Palestinians. Expecting the political backlash even PM Netanyahu understood that such a pilot project would immediately trigger an angry international response likening it to South Africa’s past apartheid policies. His spokesman, Mark Regev, immediately released a statement that “these proposals are unacceptable.” Even if this project is being shelved similar one will follow and will further isolate Israel in the world.
Israel’s new Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked , stated that she would seek a new balance that would rein in the powers of the Supreme Court over the Knesset and the government, a policy critics fear. The Supreme Court’s judicial review of legislation, and instances in recent years in which it has struck down new laws, have angered right-wing and religious parties. Since entering the Knesset in 2013, Shaked, a 39-year-old former software engineer, has backed a number of controversial bills that would have an impact on the court’s powers. One bill proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and Bayit Yehudi would make it easier for the Knesset to override judicial quashing of a law. Another seeks to limit the court’s ability to throw out laws by requiring such decisions be considered by its full 15-justice bench.
Hopefully the new government’s razor thin one-seat majority in the Knesset, and the opposition of a centrist partner in Netanyahu’s coalition to legislation seen as weakening the court, could limit Shaked’s ability to affect sweeping changes.
The Israeli government seems to forget that it needs international support and especially the support of the United States to fend off actions intended to further isolate Israel on the world stage. This includes the attempt of the Palestinian Football Association’s to suspend the IFA (Israeli Football Associations) at the upcoming FIFA ( International Federation of Soccer) Congress, which begins on May 28th, from world soccer events.
As a result all heads of Israeli missions abroad are trying to influence the respective national soccer associations not to support the Palestinian proposal. But how can they expect their support if Israeli policies are directed against the movement of Palestinian soccer players in the West Bank and Gaza?
Israel also should also consider that the Obama administration blocked the final document of a UN conference that reviewed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The 9th international conference was held in New York from April 27 until May 22. A total of 162 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) participant states were in attendance. These conferences are held every five years to assess the worldwide disarmament process.
The blocked document included a plan to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. To do this, Egypt, who first proposed such a zone in 1980, suggested a regional UN conference on banning weapons of mass destruction. The gathering would have no pre-determined agenda and would go ahead with or without the presence of Israel.
How can Israel expect future support if its government continues to defy US attempts to broker a fair bilateral agreement between Israel and Palestine based on a two-state solution?
Advocating for Israel should not equate uncritical and unconditional support of Israel and its policies.
We should honestly and openly discuss these issues with our Israeli partners and remind them that actions taken have real consequences.
Many of my Israeli and American friends here in Miami and throughout the US support Israel and almost all of us served in the IDF and were ready to defend our country. Therefore, myself and others , will not remain silent and will speak out loudly against the aforementioned policies which will undermine the democratic character of the Jewish state and will further isolate Israel on the world stage.