October 17, 2018

Zionist feminists, leftist martyrs, braggadocio peacemakers, and other bits and pieces


The raging youth-movement-like debate about the compatibility, or lack thereof, of Feminism and Zionism (see here, here, here, here – there is a lot more) is one of the most idiotic debates I’ve witnessed in a long while. Can one be both a Feminist and a Zionist? It all depends on one’s definition of Feminism and Zionism. End of story.

One thing we did learn from this debate: being a Feminist doesn’t preclude anyone from also being an idiot.


I get a sense that there’s a new touristic opportunity for Israel: get radical Jews to come, and make them martyrs of the left by detaining them for an hour or two.

Some of them are seriously asking for it.

I know, it is all part of the anger aimed at Israel’s decision to be tougher with people who only come to visit so they can later denigrate Israel and act against it in various institutions. And some of this anger might be justified. Israel ought to be more careful as it works to tame leftwing BDS radicalism – and to not make every critic of Israel an enemy.

Still, this new “Israel please arrest me” movement of the left is verging on the ridiculous. If you want to be martyrs, if you are such heroes, man up and go to Syria. Provoking softy Israel is hardly an act of heroism.


According to a survey published on Tuesday, 32% of Palestinians believe that the Israeli occupation of Judea and Samaria will continue for at least 50 more years, while 29% believe that it will continue for 5–10 years or more. Only 24% think it will end soon.

So Israelis and Palestinians are basically in agreement. Only the Americans – and Europeans – can’t see an obvious reality and keep insisting on a grand bargain that isn’t there.


It is quite perplexing that the Israeli press – which is often obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – did not really bother to report on Michael Herzog’s detailed report on the failed negotiations of 2013-2014. Herzog used soft language, but his verdict was clear: It is not Netanyahu’s fault that negotiations failed. It was John Kerry’s fault. Kerry and his team of American negotiators.

So why the relative quiet among members of the Israeli media? Netanyahu, a media paranoid, would argue that it is because the Israeli media is controlled by leftists – and all it wants is to keep making the false accusation that the talks failed because of him.

I am hardly an admirer of Netanyahu’s battle against the media. But in this case he would have a strong point.


By the way: I’d advise Trump and his advisors to read Herzog (in fact, I know some of them did). One lesson they ought to take from it is not to raise expectations. Yes, sure, Trump is a deal maker and a record breaker and a tradition shaker – whatever. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not for amateurs. It is also not for the grandiose.

In other words: If Trump sets the bar as high as Obama did – he might end up where Kerry ended.


Forward columnist Peter Beinart argues that when Democrats look at Netanyahu they see a Trump:

when Netanyahu speaks, Democrats hear Donald Trump. When Democrats read about Israel not allowing critics into the country, they’ll think of Trump’s travel ban. When they hear about Netanyahu’s threats to freedom of the press, they’ll think of Trump’s attacks on journalists. When Netanyahu claims his wall stopped “illegal immigration,” they’ll think of Trump’s proposed wall along the border with Mexico.

Is he right? Maybe. Probably. Are Democrats justified in thinking that these two leaders have similar traits? Hardly. Does Beinart scold them for making such shallow comparisons? Of course not. He scolds Netanyahu.


Women of the Wall filed a petition with the Supreme Court. They demand the right to pray undisturbed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Last January the court ruled in their favor. But the court is fast changing and is becoming more conservative. In fact, I wrote an article about it last week in The New York Times. Here is a paragraph (the full article is here):

It is, no doubt, a frightening time for a minority of Israelis, who believe that the liberal court is the last of Israel’s democratic institutions untouched by the right. But the rest of us see the gradual alteration of the court as a positive development, an important step for Israel’s ruling coalition of conservative voters and representatives. That is, if the conservative coalition proves worthy of the changes it is promulgating.


In fact, the Western Wall is one of the places in which the conservative coalition can prove its worth. It is one of the places in which the coalition can prove that an activist court is not needed: You don’t want the court to intervene? That’s understandable. But please behave like adults and make policy on your own. The cabinet voted to establish a third platform near the Kotel. The cabinet is supposed to implement its decision. If it doesn’t do it, its case against an activist court becomes much less convincing.