American Jews write letter critical of Israel’s plans to reform judiciary

169 liberal US Jewish leaders sign letter expressing concern over Israeli government
Jacob Magid
February 1, 2023

A letter signed by 169 US liberal Jewish leaders and published Wednesday expressed concern over many of the policies proposed by the new hardline Israeli government. The statement calls for a “critical and necessary debate” about the government’s policies and cautioned against false accusations of antisemitism aimed at Israel’s critics. “Those who employ accusations of antisemitism as a political weapon poison the debate. They weaken our ability to fight real antisemitism and effectively advocate for a strong US-Israel relationship,” it read. The list of signatories includes the former executives of rabbinical seminaries, Jewish Federations, AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents. READ MORE

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Senator Risch re-introducing UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act which would halt agency funding until all its antisemitic issues are thoroughly addressed

Biden Admin Announces $50 Million in New UNRWA Funding
Andrew Bernard
February 1, 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday announced $50 million in new funding for a UN agency that is dedicated solely to the descendants of Palestinian refugees and which has been widely denounced for propagating antisemitism, eliciting rebuke from a top Senate Republican…Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, slammed the move Wednesday. “The Biden Administration is far too eager to give out US taxpayer dollars to UNRWA,” Risch told The Algemeiner. “I do not support a single US taxpayer dollar going to UNRWA without serious reform, in part because their textbooks continue time and again to include antisemitic content…” READ MORE

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The idea of applying financial pressure on the PA to end pay-to-slay was inspired by the horrific murder of a young American Army veteran in Tel Aviv and legislated by the U.S. Congress long before the law passed Israel’s Knesset

Time For Palestinian Leaders to End “Pay-to-Slay” Terror Bounties
Enia Krivine
January 28, 2023

Earlier this month, Israel’s new finance minister Bezalel Smotrich withheld just under $40 million of tax revenue that Israel collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Smotrich told reporters at a press conference that he is pursuing “justice” by transferring the $40 million to Israeli victims of terrorism. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called it “another nail in the Palestinian Authority’s coffin.” Smotrich, when asked whether withholding revenue from the cash-strapped authority could result in its collapse, responded: If the PA “encourages terror and is an enemy, I have no interest for it to continue to exist.” READ MORE

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Irfaya received no support from Palestinian groups for the murder, which shocked Israeli society and led to protests and demands to instate a death sentence for terrorists

Terrorist sentenced to life, 20 years prison for ‘cruel’ Ori Ansbacher murder
Michael Starr
January 29, 2023

The terrorist who raped and murdered Israeli teenager Ori Ansbacher in 2019, Arafat Irfaya, was sentenced to life in prison, another 20 years imprisonment, and fined for his crimes, the Jerusalem district court ruled on Sunday morning. The terrorist was ordered to pay compensation to the family, for whom the loss of their child has been “a difficult and unceasing struggle for the mother, father and four children of the family.”…The court described the attack on Ansbacher as particularly cruel and malicious. According to the court, Ansbacher, 19, had gone to Jerusalem’s Ein Yael Forest to listen to music and write after a day volunteering for at-risk youth, when Irfaya, a resident of Hebron, stumbled across her. READ MORE

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Even some Arab countries without diplomatic relations with Israel are hooked on the action-packed drama that shows the people behind the conflict

Fauda Season 4 is Netflix’s top show in Lebanon and UAE
Abigail Klein Leichman
January 31, 2023

If you read our “10 things you didn’t know about Fauda but really should” (if you didn’t, you really should!), you’d know that the action-packed, Hebrew-Arabic drama about terror-fighting commandos in Israel is popular in Arab countries. Now that Season 4 debuted January 27 on Netflix in 190 countries, we have more stats showing just how popular it is. Fauda is the No. 1 Netflix program in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. It ranks second in Qatar and is among the top 10 most-viewed Netflix shows in Turkey, Morocco and Jordan. Israel has no diplomatic relations with Lebanon or Qatar. READ MORE

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Palestinian leaders are calling on the international community to sanction Israel after an Israeli Military operation in Jenin resulted in Palestinian deaths

Palestinian Authority ends security coordination with Israel over Jenin raid
Khaled Abu Toameh
January 26, 2023

The Palestinian Authority announced on Thursday evening that it has decided to halt security coordination with Israel. The announcement was made after an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to discuss the repercussions of the Israeli military operation in Jenin Refugee Camp, during which nine Palestinians were killed and 20 others injured, including four reported in critical condition. In 2020, the PA took a similar decision, but backtracked after five months. In recent years, a number of Palestinian institutions belonging to the PLO and the ruling Fatah faction recommended that the Palestinian Authority halt the security coordination with Israel. READ MORE

JPOST Nine Palestinians killed in Jenin, Israeli security forces thwart terror attack
Israel said it was in Jenin to thwart a massive terrorist attack. Palestinians say they downed IDF drone.

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Ac­tivists and the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion say the rul­ing coali­tion’s pro­pos­als, which aim at curb­ing the power of Is­rael’s ju­di­ciary, could un­der­mine the coun­try’s ex­ist­ing sys­tem of checks and bal­ances

Israel’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Appointment of Key Netanyahu Ally
Dov Lieber
January 18, 2023

Is­rael’s Supreme Court struck down the ap­point­ment of a min­is­ter who is a crit­i­cal ally of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, deal­ing an early chal­lenge to the sta­bil­ity of the newly sworn-in coali­tion gov­ern­ment. The judges found the ap­point­ment of Shas leader Aryeh Deri as a min­is­ter “ex­tremely un­rea­son­able” in light of his con­vic­tion last year for tax eva­sion. They noted his sub­se­quent prom­ise to quit po­lit­i­cal life as part of a plea deal and his con­vic­tion two decades ago on bribery, fraud and breach-of-trust charges while in of­fice, for which he served nearly two years in prison. The court, in a 10-1 rul­ing, said that Mr. Deri can’t con­tinue in his roles as in­te­rior, health and ro­tat­ing fi­nance min­is­ter. READ MORE

ARUTZ SHEVA Deri: G-d willing, I’ll be back in govt. soon Shas chairman gives first interview since being fired as a minister, says he has been persecuted for six years.

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Israel’s Supreme Court president has transformed the court into a super-legislator, empowered to dictate the terms of laws to the people’s elected representatives, based on the values of the justices

Esther Hayut’s war against democracy
Caroline Glick
January 22, 2023

Friday morning brought the first piece of good news from Israel’s Supreme Court in years. Yediot Ahronot’s top headline declared that Supreme Court President Esther Hayut intends to resign if the Knesset passes Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s judicial reform package. Hayut’s stewardship of the court over the past six years has been disgraceful and destructive to both the court and the State of Israel. The Hayut court dropped even the pretense of judiciousness. Hayut cast the court on a course of ideological radicalism and politicization that has no parallel anywhere in the world. READ MORE

REUTERS Netanyahu fires minister, complying with order from top Israeli court Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed a senior cabinet member with a criminal record on Sunday, complying with to a Supreme Court ruling even as he pursues contested judicial reforms that would curb its powers.

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Israel’s Attorney General “has the exclusive right to decide if the prime minister has violated the conflict of interest arrangement and must therefore be declared unfit to serve”

AG pondering declaring Netanyahu unfit as PM due to conflicts of interest
January 20, 2023

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara and the State Attorney’s Office are considering declaring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unfit to serve due to a conflict of interest created by his government’s planned judicial reform, according to Israeli media. In 2021, the High Court of Justice ruled that a conflict of interest arrangement formulated under then former attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit was binding for Netanyahu. The arrangement prohibits Netanyahu from being involved in the nomination of judges or of the police commissioner and from being involved in legislation that has an impact on the criminal proceedings against him. READ MORE

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Upper West Side Rabbi Kalmanofsky therefore decreed that the standard prayer for the State of Israel, a staple of synagogue Shabbat services, no longer be recited

Jewish Hysterics and Israel’s New Government
Elliott Abrams
February 2023

What explains the hysterical reaction, not least among some American Jews, to the victory of Israel’s new coalition government in the elections held there in November 2022? To ask this question is not to express support for the winners, to exult in their victory over the opposing coalition, or to deny grave doubts about some of the people and parties in the government formed by Benjamin Netanyahu. In Israel’s election, the Religious Zionist Party won only 14 seats in the Knesset (out of 120) and just under 11 percent of the popular vote. This means that the vast majority of Israelis voted against the party of the firebrands Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who have taken many highly incendiary positions. Not only are doubts and concerns to be expected; opposition to them and criticism of them will be an entirely appropriate feature of the new Israeli political moment. READ MORE

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