Opponents of judical reform clash with police during a protest in Tel Aviv, July 11, 2023.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and host of the “Caroline Glick Show” on JNS. She is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14, as well as a columnist for Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.
(JNS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family packed their bags Monday night for their vacation on the Golan Heights.
The police also made their routine preparations. They set up a water cannon outside the hotel where the Netanyahus are staying to prevent leftist rioters from getting near the premier and his family.
On the face of things, the left’s insurrectionists are as strong as ever. They have unlimited funds to spend on their activities. They are guided by Israel’s most talented PR executives. They receive wall-to-wall support from 95% of Israeli media outlets. And, acting on orders from Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, the police are prohibited from enforcing the law against them.
The insurgents’ current target is religious Judaism and religious Jews.
On Sunday night, a group of leftist male bullies stormed a movie screening for haredi girls and women in Jerusalem to block them from watching a film without males in the room.
Haaretz reporter Yael Freidson cheered them on, writing on X/Twitter, “Neighborhood men appeared at a [film] screening that was organized for women and girls, and prevented the same-sex event from taking place. For those who didn’t understand from the events of recent weeks, the contract has been reopened.”
Freidson’s allusion to “the contract” relates to Israel’s social contract, which permits autonomy and use of public spaces for various religious and social sectors in Israel’s multicultural society. The leftist insurrection now demands that freedom of access be blocked for people who aren’t like them.
Freidson’s mention of “the contract” was also an allusion to a new political party. In August, the heads of Brothers in Arms, the insurgency’s habitually violent paramilitary force, formed a political party called “New Contract.” It will run candidates in the municipal elections scheduled for Oct. 31. The goal is to win enough seats on municipal councils to prevent mayors from forming governing coalitions or otherwise cooperating with religious parties and Likud.
By making mayors dependent on Brothers in Arms and their shock forces-turned-city-councilmen, the hard leftists are certain they will be able to prevent the practice of traditional Judaism and ban traditional Jewish lifestyles from public spaces.
They may be right. To date, no liberal or leftist politician has given Brothers in Arms and its comrades from the Kaplan Brigades and the left’s other anti-government groups a reason to fear failure. When Brothers in Arms and its comrades rioted at Yom Kippur services in central and northern Tel Aviv, in Givatayim, Rishon Letzion, Zichron Yaakov and Haifa last week, not one center-left or leftist politician condemned them.
On the contrary, most leftist politicians supported the rioters and condemned the Jews who were trying to pray at public prayers. Opposition leader Yair Lapid’s underling Orna Barbivai, who recently left the Knesset to fun for Tel Aviv mayor, said in a radio interview last Wednesday that if she is elected, Orthodox Jewish outreach will be banned from the public square, and that anyone who doesn’t get with the program will be shown the door.
“I think that every resident of Tel Aviv needs to be asked what happened that in the base of liberalism, there is such a large group of Torah communities that managed to root themselves and come in from outside with agendas.”
If she is elected mayor, Barbivai pledged, “Anyone who doesn’t abide by the standards that I as a liberal mayor will lead—won’t be here.” (Barbivai recently moved to Tel Aviv from Afula. Orthodox communities in Tel Aviv predate the establishment of the state, ed.)
With that kind of support, and with an endless pile of cash to spend, what could go wrong for the insurgency?
It works out that plenty can—and has—gone wrong. In the past two weeks, Brothers in Arms and its ilk have lost the center. Thanks to the media’s mobilization on their behalf, for months the post-Zionist radicals leading and funding the left’s insurgency were able to hide their anti-Israel agendas from the center-left and the soft center-right. But over the past two weeks, their mask came off.
This is the case for two reasons. First, they overreached.
Their efforts to discredit and demonize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his trip to the U.S. two weeks ago backfired.
The leftist insurgents intended to leverage the Biden administration’s hostility toward Israel to undermine Netanyahu’s trip and discredit his leadership, in order to demoralize Netanyahu’s domestic and U.S. supporters and bring about the collapse of his government. (Needless to say, the Israeli media did not show the pro-Netanyahu demo organized by US Jewish Zionist groups.) Rather than feel demoralized, though, the Israeli public was appalled by the left’s efforts and voiced its revulsion to pollsters.
On the other hand, Netanyahu’s successful meeting with Elon Musk in Silicon Valley and his apparently coordinated presentation of the Saudi-Israeli normalization efforts with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prevented Israel’s detractors in the Biden administration from using Netanyahu’s meeting with President Joe Biden as a means to diminish and discredit Israel’s leader. Indeed, Netanyahu’s triumph in the U.S. showed that he is Israel’s greatest statesman and a credit to Israel’s democratic system.
Then came Yom Kippur. The likes of the insurgency’s Svengali, former prime minister and failed Knesset candidate Ehud Barak, and Brothers in Arms members have been fairly open about what they seek to accomplish.
They want to reduce the Jewish character of Israel to the level of a kitschy accessory for the otherwise progressive, globalist plutocracy where they, as the enlightened elite, will hold all the reins of power. Their sword is intimidation. Their shield is the self-selected judicial oligarchy that shares their post-Zionist intuitions and holds unlimited powers.
All the same, the depth of their hostility toward actual Judaism and the Jewish character of the State of Israel was largely hidden behind the ocean of Israeli flags that their billionaire financiers have armed them with, in a fairly successful effort to appropriate patriotism to their side.
That all ended on Yom Kippur when members of Brothers in Arms, the Kaplan Force and the left’s other paramilitary groups used force and intimidation to ruin and break up public prayers on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar in central and northern Tel Aviv and in other liberal cities around central and northern Israel.
Although the media tried to present the events as a fight between two warring factions: the leftists working to protect the liberal character of their cities from far-right provocateurs, rather than real worshippers, no one was buying it. One clip, which immediately went viral, told the tale.
A young Mizrahi Jewish man at the prayers at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, surrounded by Ashkenazic rioters screaming at him about “You people,” lost patience and shot back.
“I’m [at the demonstrations] at Kaplan Street every Saturday. I’m a secular, high-tech worker! I live here in Tel Aviv. So who is ‘You people’? When you say, ‘You people,’ who are you referring to? Is it the color of my skin? Is it my kippah? Who is ‘You people’!?
“Please explain to me, ‘Mr. Enlightened Left,’ who is ‘You people’! Because I’m at Kaplan, every Saturday, fighting for my democracy! And one day of the year, when I decide to put on a kippah, suddenly, I’m ‘You people’?!”
That young man was far from alone. A lot of the people who were blocked from praying had until then identified with the anti-government protesters. But after Yom Kippur, they realized that the protests aren’t about the balance of powers. They are about the nature of the Jewish state. The people they thought were on their side are actually using them to advance an anti-Jewish agenda they hadn’t signed on for.
For nearly a year, the leftist minority, which lost the elections, has been presenting itself as the majority. Barak, whose Meretz Party didn’t even get elected to Knesset, has felt comfortable referring to himself as “We the people” because for the past year, the media has backed his absurd claim, while castigating the democratically-elected government’s effort to democratically pass the judicial reform agenda it ran on, as “a regime change” and a “coup d’état.”
Barak and his lieutenants have organized groups of pilots and commandoes from elite IDF special forces units. They have mobilized the far-left physicians’ union, the universities, Israel’s business and banking elite, high-tech investors and workers, and other elite groups to present an image that all right-thinking members of Israel’s ruling class oppose the government and view it as illegitimate.
And the majority, for the most part, was intimidated by the onslaught.
No longer intimidated
But in recent weeks, the majority stopped being intimidated. Spearheaded by Shai Kallach, a peripatetic former IDF combat pilot, over the past several months, and at a much higher velocity, over the past several weeks, pilots, academics, physicians and business people have begun to stand up against Israel’s rebellious, hate-filled and deep-pocketed leftist elites.
Kallach entered the scene earlier this year in the first wave of Brothers in Arms’ campaign intended to tear apart the IDF by encouraging pilots and other elite combat operatives to refuse to serve in the reserves under the Netanyahu government. Kallach mobilized the flight mechanics against the rebellious pilots and so exposed the condescending elitism of Israel’s rebellious left.
Since then, Kallach organized a hundred pilots—retired and in active reserves—who have begun speaking out.
Immediately after Brothers in Arms’ poster girl, former helicopter pilot Shira Eting, falsely accused the government and the IDF of sending pilots on missions to “shoot bombs and missiles into houses knowing they might be killing children,” on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Kallach and his comrades released a video excoriating her and the Brothers in Arms group.
Legendary fighter pilots appeared one after another to condemn her lies and restore the term “Brothers in Arms,” to warriors who serve the State of Israel unconditionally. Kallach ended the video with a question addressed to “Brothers in Arms”: “If you’re our brothers in arms, why are you pointing your weapons at us?”
Kallach raised funds to put a massive billboard on the side of a building facing the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, which repeats the question against the backdrop of Eting and her comrades’ sitdown with “60 Minutes.”
The left, for the first time, has been caught flat-footed. They are being beaten at their own game—because they aren’t the majority and the majority is no longer intimidated. It is repulsed.
Kallach formed a new movement called Netzach Israel (Eternal Israel), as an umbrella group to mobilize Israel’s silent majority. Aside from the pilots, Netzach Israel has organized hundreds of academics, businessmen and doctors and others to stand up to the insurgents besmirching Israel’s good name, its society and its Jewish character at home and abroad. The ground is shifting, quickly, and the leaders of the insurgency are feeling it.
With limitless funds and media support, it is likely that the riots will go on, perhaps for years. But the left’s mask of patriotism and liberalism has shattered.
And the majority—that actual “We the People”—is finally finding its voice, and using it.