Has Netanyahu Lost the Plot?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely perceived as a political mastermind. In the drama over judicial reforms, however, many Israelis are wondering if he has lost control over his agenda and coalition.

The real sad truth, however, is that, according to press reports, Netanyahu wanted to accept Herzog’s proposal but backed off after Justice Minister Yariv Levin threatened to resign, which would have jeopardized the coalition.

In other words, Bibi is so afraid to lose his position he’s willing to see his country tear itself apart while he clings to the throne he so craves.

He has lost the confidence of Israel’s economic leaders and has led many members of the country’s defense forces to question his government’s orders. Members of his own Likud Party are signaling that he is going too far, too fast.

Claims by the movement’s leaders about rescuing Israeli democracy from imminent demise are false.

The root of their rebellion really lies in an aversion to the right-wing-religious coalition and its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Where Do Haredi Jews Stand on Israeli Democracy?

In the great national debate over judicial reform and democracy, where do Israel’s Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox) stand?

Haredi parties have increasingly exercised control over Israeli public life in the past two decades… A recent poll by the Haredi news site Kikar Shabbat showed that 88% of Haredi in Israel support the judicial overhaul in its current form.

Boastful and megalomaniacal, they pass foolish Chametz laws (which are foolish even by halakha), squeeze the public coffers like a lemon… A democratic country doesn’t have to tolerate all that.

As members of both the Haredi and broader Israeli society, we have a duty to act as stabilizers in the political sphere, promoting compromise and mutual trust. Our demographic growth can and should be a source of balance and cooperation, benefiting all parties involved. We must reject extremism and embrace collaboration…

What’s Holding Up Georgia’s Antisemitism Bill?

A bill in Georgia that would formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism has stalled due to concerns that it would threaten free expression about Israel.

IHRA specifies that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” HB30 further explicitly states that First Amendment freedoms remain protected.

The bottom line for most of the anti-#HB30 speakers this evening: “Israel is awful, so don’t put a definition of antisemitism into Georgia law.”

Most critics of the bill are keen on battling antisemitism, but have concerns about the definition itself. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition, used in this bill, contains language that could threaten free speech over issues involving Israel and the occupied territories.

Can an ICC Arrest Warrant Deter Putin?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over charges of forcibly transferring Ukrainian teenagers into Russia.

Not much is likely to come from the latest ICC warrants. The only way to enforce them is to have some future Russian government turn Mr. Putin over to the court. Issuing warrants that are feckless may be worse than doing nothing. The best way to defeat Mr. Putin is to give Ukraine the arms it needs to defeat Russia on the battlefield.

It’s impossible to ever return to normal unless order is restored and perpetrators are held accountable—even if justice looks more like the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission than the Nuremberg Trials.

What remains true the world over, however, is that allowing outlaws to go unpunished may be the most morally unpardonable omission of all.

Given the U.S.’ strong support of Ukraine, it would seem that helping the ICC’s efforts is the obvious thing to do. This is why most of the Biden administration and other politicians, including even Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, support doing so. They recognize that cooperating with the ICC in this instance will not put U.S. soldiers at risk — and that the U.S. has a strategic interest and moral obligation to help.

Is the LAUSD Strike Unfair to Students?

Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) workers are on strike as of Tuesday demanding better wages. Is this a justified battle for better conditions or an unfair imposition on children and families?

I don’t blame the union one bit. The average annual salary for the school workers Local 99 represents is around $25,000, well below the level considered “very low income” by the federal government. In other words, we pay these folks poverty wages.

The workers say they’re looking out for the long-term interests of the next generation and the stability of schools… No one wants a strike – not the one we are supporting this week or a potential teachers strike later this spring if we still don’t have a contract.

California’s public sector labor unions, which were at the forefront in demanding unjustifiable long-term school closures during the pandemic, have permanently set back the education and lives of children in the last few years. Now, they are back to remind Californians of the stranglehold they have over the state. In Los Angeles, they get whatever special exemptions they want from whatever laws they want.

What Makes Israelis So Happy?

Israel has been ranked the fourth happiest country in the world according to the latest research from World Happiness Report (WHR). For a country with no shortage of troubles, what’s the secret to Israel’s happiness?

Haredim’s extensive community support can also explain their happiness level. Most haredim choose to live in exclusively Orthodox areas where they feel surrounded and connected to people who share similar beliefs.

Israeli society is diverse, and more than 20% of the Jewish state’s population is Arab. Additionally, numerous religious groups such as Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze are all represented. Nevertheless, the gap in happiness between the top and bottom halves of the country is remarkably small, despite the tensions between various social groups. Israel ranks seventh in this regard. Strikingly, every nation that precedes Israel in happiness equality is far more homogeneous by nearly every demographic metric available in the CIA World Factbook.

…while Israel faces much more significant challenges than Finland, Denmark, or Iceland (ranked first, second and third in the 2023 report), it turns out that Israelis have a greater sense of appreciation for what we do have going for us, and as a result, we are happier than the 133 countries ranked after us.

Today’s Hot Issues

Has Netanyahu Lost the Plot? Where Do Haredi Jews Stand on Israeli Democracy? What’s Holding Up Georgia’s Antisemitism Bill? Can an ICC Arrest Warrant Deter Putin? Is the LAUSD Strike Unfair to Students? What Makes Israelis So Happy?