Legislative Round-Up- January 23, 2023

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Aryeh Deri as Metaphor (Hard Questions, Tough Answers- January 23, 2023)

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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Webinar Transcript- The Price of Criticizing Israel's Human Rights Record with Kenneth Roth

Hadar Susskind

Hello, everybody, and welcome to this Americans for Peace Now webinar. I'm thrilled to have you all with us today. I'm very excited for this conversation. I'm Hadar Susskind. I'm the President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. So with that, I'm going to jump right in. You know, like I said, we've got a lot of people who've joined us today, which I think is, first of all, great, but it's also, you know, it's an indication of the nature of this conversation and this topic, and, frankly, the controversy around it. And what we really want to talk about, and what Ken and I are gonna get into in a moment, is, you know, not necessarily the three decades of work that he's done and people's views on it one way or another, although perhaps we'll get to some of that, but really, to the issue at hand, which is around the discussion around Israel, around criticizing Israeli action or policies around sort of acknowledging a Palestinian narrative. And, you know, it's a hot topic, and it is a timely topic. And in part, it is such because of what's going on right now with our colleague and our guest, Ken Roth. So Ken, I'm going to do the short bio, because otherwise we'd be here for a long time. So for those of you who don't know, Ken is the former executive director of Human Rights Watch, one of the world's leading international human rights organizations. Before joining Human Rights Watch in 1987, he was a federal prosecutor in New York for the Iran Contra investigation here in Washington. I'm going to really shorten just this and say, he's just acknowledged as one of the world's leading human rights experts on a broad, broad range of topics, including Israel-Palestine. And just a little bit of framing and so everyone knows exactly what we are talking about, you know, and Ken, I'm going to read this out here, and then you can tell me how it played out because this is the written report. You know, earlier this month, it became public that Ken was being denied what had been a previously arranged year-long fellowship at Harvard's Kennedy School. It was written in The Nation that a member of the school faculty had said that that was because of Ken's and Human Rights Watch's criticism of Israeli violations of human rights. There has been all kinds of discussion about the motivations for this and the pressures and this and that. There are just before this, I actually got an email from another three, three-letter organization out there, saying that people should not be, you know, building conspiracies around why this happened, etc, which is true. I agree, people should not be building conspiracies. But I do think we should be talking about why this happened. And the very real reasons and so, Ken my starting question to you is really just first of all, hello, thank you. Welcome. Now, please tell me what happened.

 

Kenneth Roth

Well, first Hadar, um, let me just thank you and Americans for Peace Now for hosting this webinar for your interest. And I'm very grateful for the opportunity to speak with you today. What happened? I mean, the short version was, last April, I announced that I would be leaving Human Rights Watch after three decades, at the end of August. And very quickly, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, part of the Harvard Kennedy School, called me up and said, would I be interested in taking a senior fellowship with them for the year, because they knew I was going to be writing a book and this would be a good place to do that. And we talked about it for a little bit. And I agreed, it sounded like a very nice idea, I would have colleagues to kind of kick ideas around with. And so I accepted in principle. And the only outstanding issue which we all thought was a complete formality was that the Kennedy School dean had to sign off on it. And indeed, I thought it was such a formality that I actually contacted the dean and said, 'Look, I'm going to be there in September, we should just get to know each other,' and we set up a Zoom call. So in July, we had a very nice half hour chat. And then it got weird, right at the end. He asked me, 'Do you have any enemies?' Now, you know, for me, this is just such an odd question, because I've got tons of enemies. I know we just met but you know, come on. So, he should know, Human Rights Watch. We criticize governments, governments don't like it. They hate us, you know, many of them do. And so I noted that the Chinese government and the Russian government had both personally imposed sanctions on me. I noticed that the Saudi government and the Rwandan government had been particularly vociferous and attacking me. But you know, I had an inkling what he was driving at. So I also mentioned, 'And the Israeli government doesn't like me.' And that turned out to be the kiss of death. Because two weeks later, I received this phone call from the Carr Center, and they very sheepishly had to report that Dean Douglas Elmendorf, the Kennedy School Dean had vetoed my fellowship. And the reason that he gave to Kathryn Sikkink, a very respected human rights professor affiliated with the Kennedy School. The reason he told her was because of my, and Human Rights Watch's, criticism of Israel. So those are the facts. Now, the, you know, the questions like: What drove him to this? And I should say right up, you know, we don't exactly know. He doesn't have any history of personally speaking out on the Israel-Palestine issue. I don't think this is a question of personal animosity, nobody is suggesting that. Instead, what he told Mathias Risse, who's the faculty director of the Carr Center, is that people who mattered to him, objected to my fellowship. Who are those people? Now, this is where, you know, Michael Massing, the journalist, his long article in The Nation comes in. And I should say that, you know, Michael is just speculating because we don't know who the people who mattered to Elmendorf work. But Michael outlined that there were a number of big donors to the Kennedy School, who are also big supporters of Israel. You know, did Elmendorf ask them? Did he, you know, surmise just assume what they were gonna think? We don't really know. But the idea that, you know, somebody like this influenced his decision. I mean, it's at least implicit in his answer, you know, people who mattered. So I just don't know any other plausible explanation. And interestingly, you know, despite all this media hype about this, you know, despite all this speculation that this was donor-driven influence, the Kennedy School spokesperson told The Harvard Crimson that they don't quarrel with any of the facts that had been presented. So, you know, what do you make of that? So I, you know, we just don't know, but, you know, for me, given at least the very serious possibility that this is donor driven, undermining of academic freedom, I think it's incumbent upon Harvard, to set the record straight. And I say this, you know, at Human Rights Watch, I'm familiar with donors who want to use their economic clout to influence our reporting, and we just didn't go there. You know, if somebody wanted to protect their favorite country, then Human Rights Watch was not the place for them. And I just accepted that, you know, that was the cost of living up to our principles, you know, we don't take that kind of compromise money. So, Harvard, you know, the wealthiest university in the world, could afford to do the same thing for academic freedom. It could afford to say, as a matter of principle, donors are not allowed to use their financial influence to compromise intellectual independence, to undermine academic freedom. And, you know, a simple statement like that would go a long way towards salvaging this situation. But currently, the message people take is that, you know, one, donors can compromise academic freedom, and two, that certain topics, like criticism of Israel, will get you in trouble. You know, that if you take on criticizing Israel, you risk harming your academic career. And, you know, here, I don't pretend that this is what happened to me personally, because, you know, I'm privileged, I have plenty of options. I mean, this is not harming my future by any means. But that's not the case for younger scholars, or younger academics, for students. And in the message, the lesson taught by Harvard is, don't touch Israel. Because if you come out critically, you're going to compromise your future. That is a horrible lesson for Harvard to be teaching. 

 

Hadar Susskind

It is. I mean, there's no question about that. So there's two, two pieces I want to dig into a little bit here. One, like you said, you know, his response to that people who matter to him weighed in on this. Again, I think it is reasonable and logical to assume that those might be donors. I do want to note that it also might not be in that it could be other people who matter to him whether that is folks directly connected with the Government of Israel, plenty of whom have Kennedy School connections, or, you know, other people in the political realm. But I actually think, and I want to talk about this for a minute just because the push back against some of the I don't know it's pushing in so many directions, the pushing back against you're pushing back. Right there are people out there who are saying, 'Oh, this is feeding conspiracy theories about you know, Jewish money and power' and 'You know, shady donors are doing things.' And in my view, I want to say that I actually think it doesn't matter very much if it's donors or not. It could be donors, it could also be other people who have other kinds of influence. And, to me, that doesn't make a tremendous difference. What makes a difference is the impact that it's having and what you were talking about, but the message that Harvard is sending, and they're not alone in this, that even when you've been critical of the Chinese government, or the Russian government, or the Rwandan or you know, the rest of the countries that you mentioned, and many that you've written and spoken about over the years, what seems to be the third rail here, the thing that that made, the difference is being critical of Israeli government policy. And it's, I mean, we're in an interesting moment, we know what the government of Israel is right now. You know, but even that question of what does it mean to be a supporter of Israel or a supporter of the Israeli government? Because there are, of course, many supporters of Israel I know, who would, you know, not not have weighed in, in opposition to your position there. I mean, I'm curious whether you think there's, you've been doing this for a while, and I know, this isn't the first time you've come up against this issue specifically. Do you think this moment feels different to you?

 

Kenneth Roth

I mean, in a sense, I mean, I think it's different in the sense that the Israeli government, as we all know, is moving in a, you know, a far-right direction. And, you know, some of the basic institutions of democracy are now suddenly in jeopardy, you know, such as judicial review of Knesset action. So, I mean, in that sense, sure, it's different. But I have faced this kind of pressure for decades. You know, and I, I mean, I learned early on that financially, it didn't matter to Human Rights Watch, because, you know, the people who valued defending Israel above everything else, were just never going to be Human Rights Watch donors. Fine, you know, and whereas those who wanted a, you know, a fact-based, principled approach to treat Israel the same as we treat everybody else, they were satisfied with what we did. And so we lost very few donors by just doing what we do, because, you know, the ones who really were going to reject us for criticizing Israel never funded us to begin with, so there's just no loss. So I, you know, I just live with this, and the way I would always respond, and the way I tried to guide the organization, is just to make sure that we were, you know, factually accurate, and principled in our application of international human rights and humanitarian law. And I, you know, made that a personal concern. But when I was satisfied that we were, I was comfortable, you know, I'd let the chips fall where they lay, and it really didn't hurt us financially in any significant way.

 

Hadar Susskind

And so, to come back for a second to the broader look, again, at the other governments, China, Russia, you know, everybody else, I'm curious in, in your experience of this whether the you know, we've seen other scholars, other organizations get pushed back on by those governments, whether the Israel experience is, is unique or different. And I say that because I think, you know, there's a distinction between somebody, whether it's a government or activists or whoever it is looking at, whether it's Human Rights Watch's work, or anybody else saying, 'Okay, I disagree.' Right, 'I have a different perspective. Even I disagree with some of these facts.' Fine. There are lots of things out there that I disagree with. I think in many cases, there isn't what we see as there isn't the intensity of the attack, to say that my disagreement means that this is illegitimate and should not be should not be allowed. And have you seen, you know, I'm just curious, for me, I spent my life and my, you know, in the weeds in the Israel-Palestine and Middle East space, whether you see that same sort of sentiment in other areas, or is it different?

 

Kenneth Roth

Well, I mean, we're attacked by lots of different governments. As I noted, I think what makes Israel different is that I can't think of another government that has a comparably organized constituency of partisans that just have taken it upon themselves to defend the government, regardless of what it does. And, you know, there are I mean, obviously, the Russians have their troll factory, you know, the, you know, the Chinese, the Saudis, the Ethiopians. I mean, you run into kind of popular support, but nothing is organized as some of these little groups that defend the Israeli government. And, you know, what I have in mind are these groups. They, you know, they all have these deceptively neutral sounding names. I mean, they never call themselves, you know, the "Israeli government support group," you know, it's always good to have some bland name. But then they never criticize the Israeli government. They criticize anybody who criticizes the Israeli government, and they charge the critics with bias even though they epitomize bias because they only do one thing, and that's defend Israel. Um, I can't think of anybody else like that, you know? And if you know what's going on, it's easy to dismiss them. I mean, these are not serious groups, but they don't live off people who know what's going on. They live off either people who don't know what's going on, or people who don't want to believe that Israel does anything wrong. Or also just journalists who, you know, are still sort of stuck in this, 'Oh, we have to report on both sides.' And so well, you know, they classify Human Rights Watch, rather than as an impartial observer. They say, well, you're the critic, so let's find a defender. And then they go to one of these, you know, radical groups. So they, you know, get much more airtime than they should. There's nothing like that, that kind of organized support group, for another government.

 

Hadar Susskind

And, you know, you said, they're not serious groups that I mean, there's certainly no shortage of small ridiculous groups out there. But there are also groups that, you know, whether one considers themselves serious or not, are certainly significant. Who do, first of all, have spoken up about you and your work in this case, but we certainly take on this issue all the time. And one of the things that, you know, some some of the folks on have heard me probably probably say this before, that actually surprised me over the last two years, how much of my time and our organizational time we spent dealing with what we call the weaponization of antisemitism, right, that it's not just disagreement or criticism of a policy, but rather, you know, somebody comes out and says, criticizes a particular Israeli action or Israeli policy, and, you know, those groups you were talking about, and others, you know, are quick to attack them and not attack them on a policy front, but just simply just call them an anti-Semite and say that, that, you know, this is all antisemitism. You know, some some of those groups I've seen over the last week in and around your case, and Harvard sort of dancing around that, again, not, per se calling, not calling you an anti-Semite, in this moment, but saying that anybody who's criticizing Harvard is an anti-Semite, because they're talking about conspiracies. What have you been hearing about in this last, you know, few weeks? And how have you experienced that overall?

 

Kenneth Roth

Well, first of all Hadar, some of them do call me antisemitic, you know, or they use Jew hatred, which sometimes it's a preferred synonym. But yeah, I mean, it's wacko. But they do that. So I mean, I just kind of slack that off, because I mean, if that's what they're going to call me fine, but you know, I can live with that kind of crazy accusation. But I think the group here I mean, most of these are a little, you know, mini groupettes, you know, but the one bigger one is the Anti-Defamation. And, you know, ADL, I mean, again, it's a classic neutral name, and it doesn't really say what it does. But it is a bigger organization. And Jonathan Greenblatt has weaponized criticism, you know, the term antisemitism to silence criticism. And I want to make kind of two points there. I mean, one is that I personally have been lambasted when I noted that incidents of antisemitism, sometimes parallel, Israeli Government conduct. And so if you find, you know, the latest bombardment of Gaza, there is like, predictably, a surge of antisemitic incidents around the world. And to point that out, is a taboo. I'm just, you know, vehemently attacked, if I point that out. And you're never allowed to suggest that the Israeli government, which is supposed to be the custodian of the Jewish people, the savior of the Jewish people, can never be harming the Jewish people. You're just not allowed to say that. But the Anti-Defamation League is very freely charging that critics of Israel, people who report on Israeli government violations, are themselves fueling antisemitism. So they kind of want to have it both ways. You know, you can't say the Israeli government's conduct has anything to do with the incidents of antisemitism. And obviously, it's, you know, antisemitism has an autonomous life of its own there are many, many anti-Semites who don't need any excuse. But there is, you know, there is a correlation between Israeli government conduct and the prevalence of antisemitism. You can't say that, but they feel completely free to say 'But if you report on Israeli violations, you're feeling antisemitism.' So, you know, there's a certain logic there. But the deeper concern is that antisemitism is a serious problem. It is a vibrant threat today to Jews around the world. And what I worry about is that if people begin to see the charge of antisemitism as just a ploy to silence critics of the Israeli government, it cheapens the concept of antisemitism. And the last thing we need is for people to say 'What do you mean that's antisemitic? Are you just trying to silence another Israeli Government critic.' You know that devaluation of the concept of antisemitism is dangerous. You know, it may, in the short term, help the Israeli government fend off criticism. But it hurts the Jewish people around the world by weakening this concept that should be strengthened and attacked as the threat that it is. So that's what worries me and the Anti- Defamation League, more than anybody else, you know, they really are supposed to be the foremost opponent of antisemitism. They should understand this, they shouldn't be the ones leading the charge to weaponize the term antisemitism to silence criticism of Israel.

 

Hadar Susskind

Well, I mean, I'd say, you know, Ken particularly in these last few years, unfortunately, where we've seen such a dramatic upsurge in antisemitism, and particularly violent antisemitism in the United States, it I think has has changed the feeling and the views of the American Jewish community. And, you know, often in the past, we would sit here and you were talking about, you know, antisemitism in the Jewish community globally, people would nod along because they thought you meant, you know, Hungary, or here or there or something, they did not feel that most American Jews did not feel that in their own day-to-day lives in a way that I think people very, very much do now. And that's one of the main pieces that we talk about is there is both a need to be able to engage critically with Israeli policies and actions and agree and disagree with things as we do with our own government here in the United States. And there's a very real need to address the growing threat of antisemitism. And conflating those two things and putting those two things together, I think is very damaging on both fronts. So I'm gonna back it up for a second, I've got a question that came to me. You know, one of the things that you or Human Rights Watch have, I think, long been accused of, frankly, it's probably the right term is being, you know, being obsessed with Israel. And, you know, how much has been written about Israel, how much work is done about Israel? So you frankly, already mentioned a number of other countries and areas in the world that that Human Rights Watch has worked on and focused on. But do you think, first of all, do you think that there's something unique in terms of Israel and its human rights violations or its abuses? Or do you think that it does get extra attention that other countries don't?

 

Kenneth Roth

Well, I mean, in terms of human rights, like it's one of 100 countries we're working on, you know, so, I mean, you know, what's the percentage? I mean, even if it was 2%, rather than 1%, it's still a tiny percentage, you know, so to say, that we're obsessed is really, you know, I mean, I'm amazed how many people think that, like, all I do is talk about Israel, you know, all I do is tweet about Israel. And I'm just like, okay, you know, you want to go to the website, like, read through my Twitter feed, you know, and, and I mean, I get this from people who say, you know, why you're taking China so much? Why are you talking to Russia so much? You know, why I'm not so much recently. But, you know, for, for years, I was accused of being fixated on Syria, which I sort of was, you know, but it was, you know, it varies. But, you know, the idea that we're obsessed with Israel is just, you know, wacko. And just go to the website. That's the easiest, like, just, you know, go look at the facts. But the, and, I mean, there are institutions like take the UN Human Rights Council, you know, which does, you know, it has its own agenda item for Israel-Palestine, which is the only situation where there is just one agenda item. And it has more resolutions on Israel than anything else. So you can find this disproportionate focus. Now, Human Rights Watch has actually tried to address that. You know, I mean, one of the reasons is that the US traditionally vetoes Security Council resolutions. So, you know, the Security Council isn't a forum member, which is why everybody goes to the Human Rights Council. The only exception was at the end of Obama's term when he allowed one resolution to come forward on the legality of the settlements. But even within the council, we sort of said, well, okay, why don't you instead of using this, you know, agenda item seven, which is only about Israel-Palestine, what is resolutions were introduced under just a regular agenda item? And what if instead of having a bunch of resolutions, what if we just have one consolidated resolution under an ordinary agenda item? Would you the United States, would you Germany, would you know, the traditional Western governments would just support that one? And the answer was no. You know, so, you know, on one hand, yes, there's a disproportionate number of resolutions and Israel. On the other hand, that's not what's going on in terms of the failure of certain governments to be willing to criticize Israel.

 

Hadar Susskind

Again, you know, you're talking about having been, in fact, maybe obsessed with Syria. I mean, I think there are, you know, many of the people who are on this and I start with myself, as somebody who spends my day-to-day on this, it's easy to always see where everybody is looking at, talking about, writing about focused on Israel-Palestine issue, even for people for whom it is one of 100, or one part of what they do. Let's come back a little bit, we started off talking about Harvard talking about what's going on there. I just, again, I've been following the story. But is there a resolution to this? Is this done? Is there still a process? Is there any? I've seen some folks who I know, you know, writing letters to the dean there, etc. But is there either process as far as you're concerned, or, as far as other people or organizations are concerned around Harvard?

 

Kenneth Roth

Well, I mean, there's no formal process. But people are pressing for some action by Harvard, that shows that they're not so willing to compromise academic freedom as to try to penalize critics of Israel. And they could give me my fellowship back, you know, I could take up on for the second semester, I'd be happy to do that. I'd be happy with the statement from the Harvard president, you know.

 

Hadar Susskind

Would you be happy to do it if they called you up and said, 'Okay, sorry.'

 

Kenneth Roth

Well, I would do it. I mean, what I would want, frankly, is that, plus the statement of principle, and it's, I've been trying to stress, this is not about me, you know, this is not a devastating consequence for me, you know, I have other options. But I, it's become important because it's, you know, it's so visible. And, it's currently sending a disastrous signal. So I'd like them to address that I would, I'd be perfectly happy if they came out and, you know, forget my fellowship, and just gave a strong statement of principle, that they are not going to penalize people for criticizing Israel, they're not going to allow donors or other people who matter to them to undermine academic freedom. A statement like that coming from the Harvard president Larry Bacow, would be very important. But so far, I mean, you know, Dean Douglas Elmendorf from the Kennedy School has basically just, you know, stuck his head in the sand, he's paralyzed, he's hoping the storm blows over. You know, he basically is hoping people forget before the students come back to Harvard after their holiday break this coming Monday, you know, good luck with that. 

 

Hadar Susskind

I'm guessing that's not going to happen.

 

Kenneth Roth

And, you know, the Harvard president is, you know, basically, all I've seen from him so far is just, you know, platitudes. So you know, 'I uphold academic freedom, I believe in, you know, different points of view,' but not connecting that to what just happened. So they're just like abstract statements that are disconnected from reality. So that's not good enough. You know, so there has to be some repudiation of what Elmendorf has done. Now, people are trying to get him fired. You know, it's, I understand that he's up for renewal, but not until I think, next academic year, I'd be shocked if he gets renewed at this stage. But you know, that's not going to solve the problem, either just sort of quietly letting them walk away. I mean, what we need is a reaffirmation of principle. And I think that's gotta come from, you know, from either the current Harvard precedent, or, you know, it could be Claudine Gay the new president who's beginning I think, in June, but you know, she's technically not in charge right now. So it really is Bacow, who should be doing this, and he is trying to hide, trying to settle for platitudes, hoping people don't, you know, and nobody subjects themselves to a conversation with a journalist, you know, they all operate through their spokespeople who put out these kind of meaningless statements. And and I mean, journalists are getting frustrated with that, understandably, because why are they hiding? What do they have to hide? What's going on here? You know, and the more Harvard, you know, tries to run away from these questions, the more people suspect the worst.

 

Hadar Susskind

Yeah. Interesting. You know, you mentioned something about, you know, penalties. And obviously, the message that this is sending, you know, this is taking place in context, as we talked about around the weaponization of antisemitism. One of the things that's been the focus of that is, of course, the use of this, the IHRA definition, which, you know, organizations that have been championing it have been saying, 'Oh, it's this great, this great thing we don't, it doesn't need to be law, we don't need to be codified.' And yet, at the same moment, they're out there, literally lobbying everything from the federal government to state and local governments and universities and, you know, local swim teams to codify the IHRA resolution. Today, there's actually a vote in the Virginia Senate in the Judiciary Committee. I believe it's the first time so it's an it's it's codified in the IHRA resolution, but it's the first time that it actually has penalties this bill, so people could under this bill, should it pass which we are opposing and I certainly hope it will not it could actually penalize people. It remains unclear if there are certainly civil penalties, but possibly even criminal penalties under the IHRA definition. And, you know, I think part of the reason why your situation has struck such a note is that it's not. It's not a standalone, right? This isn't just like, oh, somebody doesn't like you, and this happened. And that's, that's too bad. It's this moment that we're in, of trying to shut down any criticism. And I'll say, you know, again, to go back to something I was saying a little bit earlier, like, you can disagree with the criticism, I think, but we're functioning in this political space now, where the operative goal seems to be not to say somebody is wrong, but to to disable their, you know, to get rid of their ability to say those things at all. I think Ori posted in, in the questions over there something about whether or not you think this, this government to take it back to the Israeli government. You know, you've been doing this for a while, you know, is this government different from previous governments? Because the idea of, you know, having a ministry on Hasbara, and you know, this international messaging efforts, etc, is, of course, not new. But does this feel different to you, whether it's specifically this government or last few years?

 

Kenneth Roth

Well, you brought up a few different points there. So let me just address them. I mean, first with the IHRA definition. You know, the problem is really how it's being used. Because the IHRA definition, you know, talks about demonizing Israel or holding a difference in a double standard, almost invites people to say, 'Oh, you're being biased, therefore, you're antisemitic.' You know, it. And while, you know, obviously, theoretically, somebody can criticize Israel from a background of antisemitism. But this goes a lot further, this, this really almost invites an analysis, like, are you, you know, looking a little bit too much on Israel, are you treating it a little bit differently, you're antisemitic, you know, and so it's, it's encouraging the weaponization of the concept of antisemitism to silence criticism of Israel. That's really dangerous. And that's why I really prefer the Jerusalem Declaration, which is, you know, much more explicit about not doing that. Now, in terms of, you know, where is this government? I mean, it's a brand new government, I don't see it particularly focused on external communication at this stage. You know, it seems to be much more focused on undermining Israel's democracy, you know, maybe expanding the settlements. So I, you know, I can't really, yeah. So I mean, I can't speak to its, you know, its messaging to the world, I think it's too early to know if that's any different. It's its threats to democracy in Israel, to Palestinians in the occupied territories, is, is much more pronounced than has been the case recently, although even there, we shouldn't overstate it, because, you know, this has been a trend going on for a long time. And, and, you know, it was the, you know, utter demise of the peace process. That is, you know, part of what I think has led the human rights community to say that, this kind of, you know, radical, oppressive discrimination that we see in the West Bank, where, you know, you have these, you know, kind of well developed settlements, for Israelis living under civil law with all the rights of being an Israeli citizen. And right next door and Area C of the West Bank, you have, you know, Palestinians, you can't even add a bedroom into their home without it being demolished and who, you know, have to travel on special roads and go through checkpoints. And, you know, it has, you know, all the elements of the oppressive discrimination that constitute apartheid. And the only reason I think people didn't call it that until now, or until recently, is because of the peace process defense, you know, people say, Well, yeah, it's bad. But don't worry, you know, there's the peace process. And when we have peace, it'll be better. And what we've recognized is, you know, the peace process is going nowhere. This government in particular is determined on doing all it can to undermine any prospect for a two state solution. You know, the only real option of peace at this stage seems to be a one state solution, or maybe some kind of confederation. But it's, you know, we're moving away from the two state option. And in that circumstance, if you look at what there is today, it's apartheid, it's hard to say anything else about it, you know, so it's, and this is not just the new Netanyahu government, it's also the old Netanyahu government. And, and even before that, I mean, this has been a trend in Israel for a long time. But it's being reinforced right now. Certainly not reversed.

 

Hadar Susskind

I mean, I think we're all we're all in agreement, that it's not a good moment, and that, you know, the peace process that I know many people who are on this, on this Zoom with us right now, I've you know, I've been involved in this, going back to Oslo and frankly, before that as well. I mean, I think it is an open and sort of unknowable question. We've certainly moved further away from a two state solution. I don't know that that is just my personal view that that makes a one state version the more viable option. I think we're simply in a moment where we're unfortunately far away from a peaceful solution to this conflict, regardless of what it looks like at the end. One of the questions that I think comes up for me listening to what you were just talking about is, and it relates to, you know, that peace process, sort of defense and what you're talking about is, you know, it, has there been a change over the years, do you think from the focus in terms of looking at human rights issues, from the focus and looking at the occupation to also looking at, you know, what's going on within Israel proper? And and do you think that, well, I mean, I can ask you, on behalf of Human Rights Watch, I think, but I will say more broadly for the community, you know, that do you think that that that feeling that if we want to call it a realization of the, the perpetual occupation, was there a flip, was there a moment where the human rights community said, 'Okay, we need to address this differently now?'

 

Kenneth Roth

I mean no, I mean, in terms of, you know, looking at domestic issues, I mean, these are coming to the forefront right now, because of Netanyahu's attacks on some of the key checks and balances that are central to democracy. You know, and so they are suddenly coming to the floor, there is very serious, systematic discrimination against Palestinians within Israel. And, I've gone on tours of different Palestinian communities, kind of comparing them to the Jewish communities next door. And I mean, it's a very illustrative process. So there is much to be done. But I don't want to equate that by any means, with what's happening in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Gaza. It's very different. So, you know, it's in terms of, you know, what brought the human rights community to kind of recognize the apartheid. And we were discussing, I mean, I'm not, you know, I'm not gonna pretend that we each autonomously came to this. And we, we did talk about ourselves, you know, and the group that really led the effort was B'Tselem, you know, the Israeli group, which was the first, I guess Palestinian group before they called it, but you know B'Tselem came out with its report, before Human Rights Watch came out with our report. But we were all talking. There was one stage where we thought we might try to do it together, but we were on different timeframes. It wasn't really feasible. And our analysis was slightly different. But it was similar logic, it was just that we couldn't justify not calling it apartheid, given the facts on the ground, given what the legal standard of apartheid is, by saying, 'Oh, don't worry, there's the peace process,' it just wasn't credible anymore. And we all kind of came to that conclusion, roughly along the same period.

 

Hadar Susskind

We're going down the apartheid rabbit hole a little bit here. But if you'll, if you'll indulge us, somebody just asked, and I think it's useful. You know, one of the things when the Human Rights Watch report came out, or B'Tselem or anybody else's, you know, the response, of course, literally from the government of Israel was 'This is just antisemitism,' and certainly from many of the various organizations. And one of the things that went along with that is, you know, this sort of like, very, I thought, sort of condescending like 'Israel's not South Africa, don't be ridiculous' comment as if anybody who used the word apartheid was implying that it was exactly the same as South Africa, which clearly is not the case. But maybe you can explain for the folks a little bit, you know, when Human Rights Watch uses that word as it relates to Israel or the occupied territories, you know, what does that mean, versus the common sort of perception of apartheid in South Africa?

 

Kenneth Roth

Okay, well, let me address both of those points. I mean, first, I mean, you're right, the Israeli government, when when Human Rights Watch issued our report, they actually had nothing factual or legal to say, you know, it was a really well done report it was, you know, factually copious. The legal analysis was right on, they couldn't find anything wrong. So they resorted to name calling. They call them, you know, biased, antisemitic, the usual things. I took that as a victory, you know, if all they could do was name call, then it must have been a pretty good report. You know, so I was happy with that. We are explicit in the report that we are not making an historical analogy to South Africa. And that's not the point of the report. Instead we're applying two international treaties that define the crime of apartheid. One is the UN Convention Against Apartheid. The other is the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. And so, this is a legal definition. And we apply that law. We are not making a historical analogy. And the law is actually quite clear that when you have, you know, in an attempt to dominate combined with this sort of oppressive discrimination that we see, that is apartheid, and we go through that analysis in great, great detail. So I encourage people to read the report, but to say, 'Oh, this is not South Africa' is not what the reports are about.

 

Hadar Susskind

Right. And again, I think that response, you know, fits very well into what we see as the unfortunate response from a lot of the you can't criticize anything. Again, I think, even for people and there are I'm sure many people on this call, who, frankly, are very uncomfortable with the use of the word apartheid as it applies to whether you're talking about the occupied territories or Israel. And I think there are people who probably feel strongly that they disagree. And that's fine, as far as I'm concerned there again. But I think it's important to understand that the, you know, the pushback, we've heard from folks on the right, saying, Oh, it's not South Africa is not frankly, a really legitimate concept or argument.

 

Kenneth Roth

If I could just come back to Harvard for a moment. I mean, what we're discussing here is, you know, precisely what a leading foreign policy school should talk about. Because, you know, one, the question is, so what exactly is going on in Israel-Palestine? Two, you know, how should the US government respond to it? I mean, these are central foreign policy questions. And to say, well, Harvard students are only entitled to hear from the 10 Israeli officials who are brought to the Kennedy School every year, but not somebody like me, who has a more independent perspective, that robs them of, you know, a real opportunity to hear different perspectives. And that's not how you train, you know, tomorrow's governmental leaders. So, you know, there's a cost to this limitation of academic freedom. It's not just an abstract matter. It robs the students of the ability to take on, you know, some of the most urgent issues of our time.

 

Hadar Susskind

I'm curious, because, you know, we're in touch with a lot of different folks and hear about things as they're popping up on different campuses. After this became public, have you heard from other academics, other people about similar experiences?

 

Kenneth Roth

Yes. I mean, I think the one that's probably best known happened two years ago, at the University of Toronto, which many people call the Harvard of Canada, although I've had people from McGill who challenge me on that. But let's say it's one of the two top schools in Canada, and there was a woman who had been tentatively named to head a human rights center at the law school. And what evidently happened is that a major donor didn't like her criticism of Israel, and she was never offered the job. And it became, you know, a huge scandal. And many Canadian academics started boycotting the University of Toronto, because of this, you know, blatant restriction of academic freedom. So, I mean, that was another reasonably publicized case. Lots of people are coming up to me saying, oh, there were this, these, you know, miscellaneous other cases, too. I think that it is a broad problem. Usually, we don't hear about it. But it's, you know, it's, frankly, all the more reason that, you know, my cases attracted attention for, you know, reasons that have to do with my background. We have tried to make the most of it. Because if, despite the spotlight, in my case, Harvard gets away with penalizing criticism of Israel and undermining academic freedom, you know, how is anybody else going to do any better. So this is, you know, a big learning moment. And Harvard's can either get the lesson right or is going to get the lesson wrong. And we just don't know yet it's going to come down to the Harvard president, who is trying to hide. That's where we are.

 

Hadar Susskind

I think, to your point, you know, the place where this is most dangerous is all of the unseen, it's the junior academics and the professors who are trying to get tenure and the people who are want to write, you know, write a book, but are trying to build their career, who are never going to do it because of these fears, because of the fact that, you know, speaking up on these topics is becoming so incredibly politically charged. And, again, I think it is, frankly, reflective of the fact that we've seen this issue, which, you know, for so long, whether it was ever really true or not for so long. People talked about, you know, supporting Israel as a nonpartisan issue or bipartisan. And just over the years, we've seen it become politicized in our actual politics in Congress. Now, certainly, you can't, you know, you can't find one Republican who aligns with any of the views that we believe or espouse right now. And that wasn't always true. But I think we're seeing it go beyond just politics into academia into so many different places. And you know, we all hear about it from students. I've got a son who's a child on campus right now, who talks about, you know, the fact that most the people, he talks to most of the people that he engages with, they just have one view, that's the only thing that they've ever heard, and that opposing views aren't considered, you know, not my not my perspective, or even something they disagree with opposing views are considered, you know, heretic and cannot be said aloud. And it is, it's incredibly damaging.

 

Kenneth Roth

Absolutely. And it's at a moment when Israel is taking a dangerous turn. And we need free debate. It's becoming harder and harder to do that. And that's a problem. Harvard should be leading on this, not setting a negative example.

 

Hadar Susskind

Yeah. So, you know, I'm just looking through the questions a little bit, and there are a lot of variants of, what can we do? And it's not an easy question, because frankly, I don't even know individually, folks are talking about what they can do about, you know, your case and Harvard? My guess is probably not all that much. But what can we do in the broader sense of bringing this issue of academic freedom to light and really raising our voices in support of, you know, the ability to speak out on these issues without, and I want to emphasize it, just because I know people have a range of views around just honestly, some of the things you've said, but like, without agreement, right? We're not having this webinar today and Ken, no, no, no offense, because I agree with every single thing you've ever said or written. That's not the point. And I don't think that should be the right line. We're having this discussion, because we should be able to have the discussion, and we should be able to share our views and speak our points when it comes to Israeli policy and Israeli action, or the politics around it without having that be shut down. So do you have any thoughts for folks on the webinar about the, what can we do?

 

Kenneth Roth

Yeah, well, look, I mean, and the narrow question, I mean, by all means, you know, right, to Lawrence Bacow, you know, its president@harvard.edu, you know, express your views. But the broader question, I mean, I do think this is a matter of, you know, academic freedom or, but more broadly, freedom of expression. You know, one important thing to do is to be principled, even in the case of people we disagree with. So if I'm going to assume that this group here is, you know, a relatively liberal group, defend the rights of people to, you know, vehemently defend Israel, you know, I don't don't, you know, deny them the ability to voice their views. You can disagree with them. But that's very different from censoring them. And, and I, you know, I think that those sorts of examples where you stand up for something you don't believe in, is a way of really stressing the importance of free expression. And when you do have something as divisive as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we need to enable, even, you know, strong opinions on the other side, to be expressed, that's the only hope we're ever going to have of finding some kind of peaceful resolution.

 

Hadar Susskind

Two quick little things, and then I've got a bigger question. So first of all, somebody just asked for you to repeat the Harvard president's email address. Again, if you don't mind.

 

Kenneth Roth

It's just president@harvard.edu. I don't think it's super personal. He seems to use it.

 

Hadar Susskind

And then there was another piece that popped up that I'll just answer really quickly, which asks, What is the evidence, if there is any, that donors are related to the Harvard decision? And again, for those of you who perhaps were not here, when I can share the story at the beginning, the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School and can correct me if I get this wrong, said that people who matter to him weighed in, in opposition to his fellowship. So as we discussed, it's not illogical to think that that might mean donors. It's also very clearly not necessarily limited to donors, there could be other people who matter to him also, who weighed in. But so I don't want to speak for you, but certainly, from my perspective, we're not we're not saying that that was clearly just donor pressure, although it seems reasonable, that that is at least part of the answer.

 

Kenneth Roth

And the truth is, whether it was donors or not, it was a compromise of intellectual independence. You know, they shouldn't be rejecting academic appointments because of criticism of Israel. That's what it comes down to, right, were donors behind it with somebody else, I don't know. But the principle is the same.

 

Hadar Susskind

Yeah. And I think to those, you know, I mean, you mentioned ADL by name, but others are out there who are talking about this as are we talking about conspiracies and donors. That is not the point here. The point is the compromise of academic freedom and other people want to go down the rabbit hole of who might those people who matter to them be, great, but I I agree with you that that's not the important part. So the other question I was going to ask is, you know, I guess it goes back to the questions of human rights violations since human rights violations, you know, are published publishing reports doing this research on the ground showing what's happening for a group like ours, which is not doing that side of the work that is, you know, that is activists that are people who are civically engaged. What can we do to help bring light to those to help support those efforts?

 

Kenneth Roth

Yeah. I mean Hadar, the premise of you know, human rights advocacy and defense of human rights, is that violations of human rights are embarrassing. And the reason for that is that everybody pretends to respect human rights, you know, that has become just a basic element of a government's legitimacy. And so if you can demonstrate that a government in reality is falling short, that discrepancy between the pretense and the reality is embarrassing, it's shameful, it's delegitimizing and the stronger the spotlight, the more pressure can be put on the government to close that gap to bring the practice more in line. So that's what this is all about. And, you know, Human Rights Watch in our colleague organizations, we will do the factual investigations, the reporting, but we need to help in getting word out and sort of intensifying that spotlight. And social media is key for that. I mean, I, I'm just looking at the number of people attacking me on social media, you know, and join the fray. You know, if you think that I'm on the right side, step in and say something, you know, because there certainly is an organized constituency on the other side that's attacking me. But these, you know, I think we know that, you know, if he's asked how people are influenced, they're much more likely to be influenced by the views of their friends and acquaintances than by some third party institution. So social media matters, you know, what you personally say, in your network among your friends, that matters. So I would encourage you to speak out and to, you know, when issues come up, when you have an opinion, express that opinion, that is helpful in, you know, hopefully pushing governments in a more rights respecting direction. 

 

Hadar Susskind

Thank you. So we only have a few more minutes left, I want to wrap up. Before we do that, though, I couldn't help but notice, you said you're working on a book, you want to give us a little teaser?

 

Kenneth Roth

Sure. I have been distracted a little bit in the last few days. But the idea of the book is really to explain how it is a relatively small group of people, my colleagues at Human Rights Watch, how we move governments around the world. And so what I'm doing is explaining the methodology, I'm taking each element of it, explaining the strategy behind that, and then illustrating it with my personal experiences and my colleagues' experiences. And so it's really going to be, you know, I mean, part memoir, but part primmer, on how you do this kind of work, which is applicable, I think, not narrowly within, you know, not only within the human rights realm, but also, you know, more broadly, because the methodology that we use this, you know, investigative exposure shaming process, can work, whenever there's a moral framework that institutions or individuals fall short of, it's not limited to international human rights standards. So I do think it's going to have much broader applicability to anybody who wants to try to enforce a moral position.

 

Hadar Susskind

Great. Well, I look forward to seeing it.

 

Kenneth Roth

And look forward to being done.

 

Hadar Susskind

I bet you do. Ken, thank you for taking the time to be with us today. I appreciate it. And again, I want to say, you know, and thank you for all the work. And I'm going to say it out loud again. And I want to be really clear, it's not a disclaimer, I say thank you for all the work even when I might disagree with some of it. Because I think that's how this should work. We should all be doing this. We should all be engaging. We don't need to agree on every detail and every piece. But we need to be working for the elimination of human rights abuses. We need to be working for peace, we need to be working for a better future. And I have no doubt that you are committed to doing that. So thank you very much. I appreciate it. And thank you again to everyone for joining us and we will make sure to share the recording from this. So, so long. 

 

Kenneth Roth

Thanks, Hadar.

 

Hadar Susskind

Bye Ken.

‘Pretend Like it Never Happened’ by Hadar Susskind

‘Pretend Like it Never Happened’

JAN 18, 2023

By Hadar Susskind

Remember Jerry Seinfeld’s advice when George miscalculated and recklessly quit his job because he was denied access to the executive restroom? “Go back,” Jerry said, “pretend like it never happened.” George is enthralled by the boldness of the move, goes back to the staff meeting as if nothing happened. His boss doesn’t buy it and goes on to humiliate him before his former colleagues.

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The Neglected Dimension of Israeli Democracy (Hard Questions, Tough Answers- January 17, 2023)

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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Legislative Round-Up- January 13, 2023

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"The Fight has Begun. It will be Long. We Will Prevail."

by Ehud Barak -- originally in Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 6)

1.  I’ll start from the end. The fight has begun. This isn’t a false alarm. Tzav-8 [the Israeli military term for emergency call-up orders]. Israeli democracy is in certain and imminent danger of collapse.

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Protests in Israel- Tel Aviv

By Eliza Schloss

On Saturday, January 7th, thousands of Israeli citizens  gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Netanyahu’s far-right government. Demonstrators from two separate marches expressed concern over imminent threats to Israeli democracy and Palestinian rights under an unprecedented religiously and politically conservative coalition.

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Legacy Giving (Post Version)

Webinar Transcript- Confronting the Israeli Government’s Attack on Democracy with Noa Sattath

Ori Nir

Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining this webinar with Noa Sattath of ACRI, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel. This webinar is a little different. It is brought to you by two organizations, the New Israel Fund and Americans for Peace Now, APN. I'm Ori Nir with Americans for Peace Now. I am delighted to have with me my longtime friend and colleague, Libby Lenkinski of the New Israel Fund. I'm going to hand her the baton in a second. Just before I do that, because some of you may not be familiar with APN, Americans for Peace Now is an advocacy and education organization here in Washington, which works to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. It is the sister organization of Peace Now, Shalom Achshav, Israel's preeminent peace movement. And now I'm handing the baton to Libby.

 

Libby Lenkinski

Thank you so much, Ori, and I'm very pleased to be here collaborating with you again. And I'm especially excited to finally be featured on the PeaceCast Podcast. I'm like, what does a girl have to do to get on that podcast, so I'm very happy that we'll be on it today. As Ori said, I'm here to co-facilitate on behalf of New Israel Fund where I serve as Vice President. And I often think of APN and NIF as sort of like the two organizations that are part of our Progressive Israel Network world here that really do have boots on the ground there. Peace Now and New Israel Fund are real engines of all kinds of important work for democracy and peace on the ground in Israel. And simultaneously, we're here at organizing among North Americans and around the world in support of that important work. So I wish that we were here to celebrate all of our amazing successes and how you know how much  we're getting closer to the future that we want. But we all know that we've suffered a big setback with the new government. And we're here to talk with Rabbi Noa Sattath, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the flagship grantee of New Israel Fund, a close partner also to Peace Now, my own alma mater where I was last employed before I came here to New Israel Fund, to talk specifically about the override clause. And to hear ACRI's perspective and Noa's perspective about that. I'm going to just give you a brief bio of Noa, because she's only been in ACRI, for I think just like a year or a little bit more than a year. Rabbi Noa is the executive director of ACRI for the last year or so. Before that she ran the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), where she was responsible for leading public strategy on religion and state, gender equality, and the struggle against racism. Among other things, she was a partner in leading significant processes of change, like the struggles against the exclusion of women, the extremist organization Lehava, which used to feel very fringe to all of us and today is sitting in very important ministries in our government, which we will talk about. And also she led the disqualification of racist, insightful candidates from running for the Knesset. Prior to her work in IRAC, Noa directed the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, where she was a partner in the historic process of leading Jerusalem's inaugural pride parade. So I really can't imagine how this moment feels to you. We're going to talk about that. And I think we, some of us, have seen lots of photos from the protests on Saturday night. We know that there are Israelis standing up in new ways to this government. We're also facing, and we feel this inside NIF and I know at Peace Now as well, like it's sort of like that January 6, moment of just like a lot of chaos, a lot of noise, a lot of statements by new ministers, and new MKs about things that they want to do. And we think that this override clause, this change in the judiciary, is kind of like a cornerstone to all of those things, but we don't know. It's very chaotic. And so I want to ask you, just by way of like opening, and I know Ori's gonna want to jump in with questions about this, too, just like what is this override clause, and what is so significant about it to the broader set of issues that we're focused on as organizations, as progressives, please? And welcome Noa, thank you so much for being with us.

 

Noa Sattath

Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it and I see a lot of names of friends in the chat. I'm very happy to be here with you and you know who you are. It's great to see you. I just want to zoom back and talk about this moment. So first of all, I think we should acknowledge that it's a nightmare. And I also think that history has had a lot to teach us about this moment. And so I've been really diving deep into the writing of Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat who is a fascism scholar, she's an amazing writer. And she describes this moment as the moment of shock and awe. So when the populist leader comes into power, she tracks them from Mussolini and onwards. There are a lot of statements about what's going to happen, we can remember that from the early Trump days, where he announced that he would make 100 executive orders taking away every freedom. So we were at this moment before the Knesset assembled. And now we're transitioning into the much slower process of actual legislation where there are a lot of limitations and that's where we are now. And when we talk about the override clause, in many senses, we talked about judicial independence altogether. So zooming out, Israel has no constitution. We have only one house of parliament. And, we have very little separation between the executive and the legislative branches. And so the Supreme Court is really the main tool of oversight that our parliament or our government has. And the various members of this coalition, each one of them from their own perspective, has a strong interest in limiting judicial independence. And so they're talking about a package of laws, the override clause being one of them. Yariv Levine, the new Minister of Justice, announced a whole package of laws, including the override clause, which we'll get into in a second, but also limiting the issues, the ways that the court can deliberate cases and limiting the the oversight of attorney general's, which has been very instrumental in protecting some rights in Israel. The override clause is limiting the court's ability to to overrule Knesset legislation. That is, on the one hand, it's a small fraction of what the court does. I would say that 98% of what the Supreme Court does has nothing to do with the override clause. The override clause is a very specific clause that is used when there is legislation that is unconstitutional and there's a hearing about it. But it's a critical part of what the court does. Just in the past few years, ACRI has overturned the legislation about indefinite imprisonment of asylum seekers. So that was a law that the President has passed and we use the ability to override legislation in doing that. And we also managed to have success in terms of the law allowing expropriation of private Palestinian land. So this law, should it pass, would significantly limit the ability of the courts to oversee the Knesset legislation. And I think the best explanation about it that I read is that it would mean that the law would only apply to the minority, because the majority can always change the law. And if there are no limitations on that, it would mean that the majority can always change the law to fit whatever their political interests are. And you can go to different ways of imagining what that would look like. I'm happy to dive into what we think this might look like very concretely at this stage but there are many different scenarios that we can imagine.

Ori Nir

Yeah, well, we'll probably do that as we go along. Just wanted to make sure that we got the name right. You were talking about Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, right? Yes. And it's spelled G-H-I-A-T, right.

 

Noa Sattath

Yes, and I strongly recommend her book "Strong Men," where she speaks about the emergence of strong men leaders, populist leaders.

 

Ori Nir

So last week, last week, you sent a message, an email that referred to the radical measures that were announced by the new Justice Minister, Yariv Levin, as a national emergency, and you said it was an abyss that we have a difficult time getting out of. What you were referring to was a collection of measures that were only the first steps in what can only be described as a legal revolution. Talk a little bit more about the other components of this initiative. And also, if you may, in simple terms, try to explain what this government is trying to achieve with these new measures with this revolution.

 

Noa Sattath

So I think one of the challenges and certainly Israel is not unique in the populist moment that we're facing. And one of the characteristics of this, of the, of the crisis of democracy is that the democratic sphere is shrinking or disappearing in small technical steps. And that's one of the challenges that we have in Israel, and that maybe all of us have, as advocates, in explaining why these very technical and minor steps have such a huge impact on the future. And we at ACRI did a whole mapping of the threats that this government poses to democracy and human rights and we're prioritizing the measures that we think will be very, very hard to reverse in the future. And these measures that we're talking about right now, are going to be very hard to reverse in the future. So in terms of the package that Yariv Levin was mentioning, we spoke about the override law, we spoke about the attorney generals. So the attorney generals have a very important position in each of the government offices and each of the government ministries. And they really limit the policies to the rule of law. So the attorney general can determine that a specific policy is illegal, and then the minister would have to change it. What they're trying to do now is to make those nominations, political nominations, so that anybody could bring their own people, and the attorney general's would act like private lawyers representing their client, the minister, and not representing the rule of law. And that would be a dramatic shift because the attorney generals have been a very important watchdog in the Israeli system. Another proposed change is the issue of the nomination of Chief Justices, judges to the Supreme Court in Israel. We have a 16 judge panel, a 16 judge court. And the current way that judges are nominated is by a non-political process in which there are members of the coalition and the members of the opposition and members of the current justices and members of the Israeli Bar Association. And so the process of nomination is always a process of compromise. And they're trying to politicize the process, giving the government an absolute majority to nominate whatever judges that they want. The last measure that has not been brought up yet is the limiting of access to the court. In the full package that was signed to the coalition agreements was also an agreement to limit access to the court to plaintiffs who have a principal case. So you would have to prove that you have a specific damage caused to you as a person, not up to you as a group, in order to have access to the court, which would limit mostly corruption cases and environmental cases from access to the court. And the agendas here are varied. The ultra-orthodox members of the coalition have experienced the Supreme Court as an enemy in barring all sorts of preferential treatment that they've been getting over the years, and they want those privileges removed. The ultra-right has witnessed the Supreme Court as an enemy to settlement expansion even though the court usually rules in favor of the military in favor of the settlements, they still see it as a barrier, and they want that removed. And Netanyahu is facing three criminal charges, he's very worried about his appeal to the Supreme Court, which will be in the future and he wants to change the makeup there so that he can get a favorable decision on his appeal.

 

Libby Lenkinski

Thank you, Noa. This is complex stuff and I'm seeing like a lot of it's not complex, because we don't have the mental capacity to understand it. It just works very differently than in the United States and in Canada, this is a chance to say hello to the Canadians that have joined us, but it's a totally different system. So we're kind of following along and being like, wait, what does it mean if there's no constitution, and this happens? And the appointments don't work? So as I'm seeing questions like that in the Q&A and Ori and I are going to try to incorporate some of those into our conversation. We'll also turn to them a little bit later. But I guess I wanted to ask you, and this is a few questions from the Q&A embedded into a question that I wanted to ask you, which is, you know, when you talked about Professor Ben-Ghiat, and the sort of comparative analyses that likens this moment to other places in the world, like one of the things that I think, is familiar, is this feeling of barrage. It's like the first 100 days of Trump, every day a different thing. And there's a dynamic that happens, I think, in the media and among larger NGOs, who are focused broadly, which is like, 'Oh, we shouldn't be talking about this, while this is going on. Why would we be talking about this little thing when this big other thing is going on?' And I want to ask you, so from the perspective of both civil society as a potential target, like NGOs and activists as a target for an increasingly authoritarian, anti-dissent government, but also as the gatekeepers to a lot of advocacy on a broad set of issues. With all of the various things banned, enforcing the ban on Palestinian flags and other kinds of free expression things and threats to the education system and LGBTQ, why is this override clause, why is this Levin plan? How will this impact, A) NGOs in terms of our own space to operate? And, B) the issues that we bring into legal advocacy? What will this mean? Is this a big thing to talk about? Don't talk about these little things, because this big thing is the main one? How to think about that, from the perspective of us in the work that everybody on this call supports.

 

Noa Sattath

I think that the living plan dramatically changes the playing field. We speak about it, we tried to build the work plans for 2023 and we said that we likened it to playing cricket with the Queen in Alice in Wonderland. So you play a game and the Queen keeps changing the rules of the game, and you have to adjust all the time. And so we're really focusing on changing the rules of the game, which would then be very hard to reverse going forward. And so I think that that is dramatic and it impacts the undermining of judicial independence will impact almost every issue that NIF is working on. I can barely think of one that won't be impacted. And I also think that there's a tendency to talk about the issues that are very easy to understand, right. It's very easy to understand that we should all be outraged when Avi Maoz says that he's going to bar pride in Jerusalem or when Ben-Gvir says that he's gonna arrest protesters in Tel Aviv, left-wing demonstration. Our challenge as activists and as a society is to really think about how we personalize and make the issues accessible to these bigger issue questions that will then have larger impact that they're harder to grasp at the first step. And so I think that all of the NGOs that you know, and love in Israel are using judicial independence and if we don't have judicial independence, that will undermine dramatically the tools that we have. You also referred to the threats against civil society and human rights organizations. So I think maybe some of you have heard that Smotrich called human rights organizations existential threats. And we should, and that Ben-Gvir is trying to add taxation to organizations that are getting funding from European governments, which are mostly occupation organizations, anti-occupation organizations. And the more effective we are, the more the government will try to do that. So we should anticipate it and we should understand this is part of the process that's going to happen. If we are effective against this government, this government will try to make our lives more difficult and that's part of the game that we're playing right now.

 

Ori Nir

Thanks. I wanted to echo what Libby said about this feeling of, you know, drinking from a fire hydrant. It's just It keeps coming at you. And one of the things that we're seeing is that this government really comes in with a very aggressive agenda and with terrible vengeance. But I wanted to go back and project the certain sentiment or certain trend that we see here in the in the Q&A, and that is people asking about the uniqueness of the Israeli system. So I wanted to touch upon a few things that are unique and ask you about those. First is the question of constitutionality, when we say constitutional, constitutional law or things like that, what does that mean in a country that does not have a constitution? That is a question that I've seen quite a few times reoccurring here on the Q&A. And then the other thing is the special nature of the Supreme Court in Israel, as an instance, for people to bring their grievances. And particularly, you know, you talked earlier about the attempt to limit access to the Supreme Court, how does that impact Palestinians who have used the Israeli Supreme Court quite often?

 

Noa Sattath

These are such great questions. So in terms of constitutional principles, Israel doesn't have a constitution. We do have what we call basic laws. And so these are laws that have a special status, have been have been approved by a special majority, even by a majority which is not a huge majority. And these laws create the basis for a future constitution. And so they have supremacy over other laws. And this is the way that the Supreme Court used to or still is, still is able to override legislation is to say, this new law that you just approved, stands in contradiction to previous basic legislation. And this is the the constitutional principles that we have. But constitutional basic laws, which are the constitutional foundations, can be changed in a much quicker process. You just need a 61 majority, which is a 51% majority in the Knesset, in order to change a constitutional or a basic law. So this is a much weaker basis than a constitution. And it's also much less detailed, and it's much less comprehensive than constitutions usually are. So that was the question about the uniqueness of the system. In terms of the implications of barring access to the law to the court. It's very interesting to see now, one of the major points of discourse in Israel right now is that Palestinians are in general not joining the protest movement against the anti-democratic measures. And I think that it's a learning process for non-Palestinian Israelis to learn how much the Supreme Court has disappointed Palestinians in the past, and how consistently it rules with the military and not with the Palestinians seeking justice. So we at ACRI, for example, have lost multiple cases, significant cases, cases that we felt were very, very strong, overwhelmingly strong representing just clients and we lost several devastating losses with Palestinian clients. And still we think that the institution is a central institution of Israeli democracy and is worth protecting. So actually, I think that most of what the government wants to pass and change for Palestinians, it doesn't need the override clause in order to do. The law for expropriation of Palestinian land is an exception to that. The law of expropriation is basically a law that allows the government to take any private land and build settlements on it and we have been able to get the Supreme Court to override that law. And the override clause would, if it passes, then I think that this legislation might come back.

 

Libby Lenkinski

Thanks, Noa. I want to ask a little bit more about strategies for opposition during this environment. And I want to wrap in a couple things that I've seen in the Q&A, which is like, first of all, and I used to be around the very table that you're having these debates in, and I'm wondering, like, from the inside of the ACRI conference room, room I love, what are the discussions? How are you thinking about strategies going forward? And also, what do you see happening more broadly in civil society and even in other sectors? If you're seeing like, what does opposition what is possible to accomplish right now, realistically, and like what do you see already happening? And there's also a question about terminology, because you said, you were talking about Palestinians in connection to disappointments with the Supreme Court, and also Palestinians not quite joining the protests right now. So I think when you're talking about the Supreme Court, you're talking about Palestinians living under occupation, in which Peace Now, Yesh Din, and ACRI, and many other organizations have tried to litigate cases on behalf of villages about land and things like that. But I'm also wondering when you're talking about Palestinians joining or not joining various kinds of opposition, like protests, do you mean citizens of Israel, Arab-Israelis, Palestinian citizens, or both? Kind of maybe unpack that as sort of part of the plan. I mean, I'm already setting you up to say the thing that I think, which is that only a true partnership is gonna give us any kind of win for the future that we want. But now, I'd like for you to share your thoughts about that.

 

Noa Sattath

So in terms of strategy, and I want to connect to the drinking from a fire hydrant analogy, we have to be everywhere. We know that populism thrives in a vacuum. And everywhere where there's no resistance, the populist agenda will move quicker. And so we just were building the support and strength and stamina for the staff so that they can be very strong and very present on the multiplicity of issues that may arise. And we're also in terms of our staffing, we're building more flexibility. We used to have lawyers that were very designated to each issue and we may need to shift around so that we can be more agile in our response that we're building. And in terms of what is possible in terms of resistance, I want to say that A) litigation is going to continue to be key, even with the limitations on the Supreme Court, there will be different options to litigate. And although the field may become even more difficult than it was, it was not easy in October. The litigation can create the space for stopping the clock, for freezing the situation as it is. We need to prepare for a situation where this government lasts a long time or gets reelected. But we can also imagine that this government will only last a couple of years. So freezing a situation as it is, is incredibly valuable. And also litigation is treating the platform for public discourse and for clarification of the issues in a way that nothing else does. And so we have for instance, at ACRI we have a very methodical way of taking on a case. And the way we use to decide on whether you take on a case was what is the likelihood of winning. And we are now redefining winning, because just creating the public discourse and just freezing the situation is very meaningful right now. In terms of other forms of resistance, I think that the ray of hope that we can see now is that Israelis, Jewish-Israelis in a large majority, oppose this government. They don't support, there's no majority for any of the steps that the government wants to take. And that's what we need to capitalize on. And so we're seeing both large protests that are taking to the streets. And also we're seeing sectors that have not been outspoken in the past, from lawyers who have never been very vocal to leaders in the software industry, really finding their voice. So that's very encouraging. And I think that a time of crisis is always a time of opportunity. I'm struggling to see it right now. But I know that it's true. And I think that as we can adjust to the situation, but we can learn to live with it, then we will have the time to really think about what you said Libby, about how we got to the situation where the delegitimization of the Palestinian narrative and the Palestinian voice is really blocking our path to any political change. And so that I think that that is going to be very central and what we do moving forward, I also want to say that in terms of strategies, I mean, if we look at the kind of a large, you know, a bird's eye view of the past five election system, so in 2018, the Netanyahu block had 65 mandates, and then by some sort of miracle, of Avigdor Lieberman, who is very hawkish the head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Israel Our Home, decided not to go with Netanyahu anymore. And that really created the cycle of four consecutive election systems. And now we're at the place where Netanyahu has 64 members in his coalition. And I think that two things have changed for our benefit. One is that we have this big protest movement that is really out there. I mean, imagine what it would look like, if 12% of the American public went out to the streets in one day. I mean, that's what happens in Israel, it would be massive. So that's what we have. And the other thing that we have now that we didn't have in 2018, is that Trump is no longer in the White House. And that, you know, now I'm looking at you, my friends, and saying, this is a very important strategy that we have to use. We are already seeing that international discourse, international pressure is something that can have a deep impact on Israeli policy. We have seen that in the past two months, very, very clearly. We need a lot more of that. And that's where we need to partner together to create the change. 

 

Ori Nir

Great so that's a really great segue to the next question, or next, maybe cluster of questions that we'd like to ask you. And that is the role of American Jews and the role of the United States more broadly. Maybe I'll start with actually reading out the question from Mark Pelavin of the Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement. Noa, he says it's great to see you again. So Mark is writing, and I had it in front of me just a moment ago, and now it's disappeared. But anyway, what he was asking, I can't find it, is how acute is this government and Israelis in general, to what American Jews think? Do they really have an impact? Does their voice have an impact when there's let's say, oh, here. Thank you, Libby. That was nice of you. So do things like letters from the, you know, Israel-related organizations have an impact? In either case, what are the things that American Jews can or should be doing that will have an impact?

 

Noa Sattath

So we know that well, you know, during the Trump years, Netanyahu really transitioned from leaning on the support of American Jews for his policies to leaning on support of American Evangelical Christians for his policies. And so I think that in the kind of emotional state of Netanyahu, I don't think that he is really impressed by what the American Jewish community says or does, certainly not the American liberal Jewish community. But I think, and I know, that the Biden administration is very acute to what the American Jewish community says or does. And Netanyahu is very, very, very attuned to that. So I think that the letters should not be going to Netanyahu. I mean, by all means communication is always key, but if you're going to write one letter, write to your representative and tell them what have you done today to talk to the State Department to tell them to not do this, or do that or support this or say, say that. This is how I would focus. I think that the kind of internal Jewish dialogue, I'm not sure that we have somebody to talk to. And still I think that the role is critical. It's just a little different. And frankly, that, for example, Ambassador Nides is very responsive to, you know, calls and letters from American constituents. It's very important. And I can tell you that on the day after the elections, I texted him, and I said, 'I have really great news for you.' And he said, 'Really, you have great news today?' And I told him, 'You are now the most important U.S. ambassador to Israel in history. What are you going to do about it?' I think that he hated that question but we need to keep asking him exactly that.

 

Libby Lenkinski

Yeah. I mean, anybody who's been on one of these webinars with me before knows that my favorite thing is that for an NIF webinar, or on an APN webinar, we always get the same question first, which is, 'What can I do? As an American Jew, what can I do to help?' And I love and appreciate that the almost 400 people that are on this call, are really asking that question. And one in particular, Noa was saying like, you know, beyond supporting the organizations that are doing democratic pushback in Israel, and beyond speaking with our Congress people through organizations like APN and J Street, what else can I do? And I always tell people that, you know, there isn't really a silver bullet in these. I don't like the metaphor, it's a wartime metaphor. but you know, there isn't one answer, but people are asking, like, what is the one thing that I can do? And you know, I think in this country in the United States and North America, at least, there is a shakeup moment around this government. For some of us who are in the trenches of this work for decades, as the three of us and many people on the call are, it's, you know, it's like a, this feels like an extreme version of things that we've experienced already. Not that it's more of the same, but it's also not, you know, we've been saying this could happen, we've been watching the writing on the wall, but for a lot of people, and you know, we're hearing from unlikely voices who are saying I may no longer be able to support Israel, I don't know what I'll do, or, you know, if I were there, I would be joining the protests, say people who are associated with the American Jewish right. And so I am wondering if they're, in addition to supporting ACRI, and other organizations through NIF, through any other vehicles, you guys don't stop doing that, now is the time to double down and beyond supporting APN and J Street in the work to really contact our members of Congress and do the thing that Noa was just saying, what other things or were what do you see as an important right now moment, or right now action that people outside of Israel can take?

 

Noa Sattath

I think that, I'm curious about, you know, to hear from you whether you've experienced the same thing. We have witnessed two kinds of responses. One, which was overwhelming, is people who are now people from North America who are now ready to, you know, join the fight. Libby, we met when I was in New York in March, and I met with a lot of people who told me, 'You know, I have different priorities. I'm very busy right now, get back to me in the future.' You know, these kinds of polite, polite Americans know. And then, in November, after, you know, on their own accord, they came back to me and said, 'Okay, you know, I'm game now.' And so we have seen a lot of that. But we've also seen a lot of people saying, 'This is too big, I don't know what to do with this.' And you all have friends who are overwhelmed or who are disconnecting. And I think that that's the one of the ways that you can be engaging with them would be very helpful to us because we need all the support that we can get. And I think that you know, all of you can see from this car that we are energized and we are ready to go and we need the support to continue to go on and I think that a lot of people are feeling scared or overwhelmed and are staying away and we need you to help us pull them back in.

 

Ori Nir

I think it's important to emphasize that what we need is a long term commitment. And in that vein, I wanted to ask, you know, about the long term attitudes of members of this government, and particularly to ask you about one character that you are familiar with personally, and that is Itamar Ben-Gvir. You know, in personal you've, you've interacted with him in the past. So I wanted to ask you a little bit about that, if you could just give us the anecdote. And then and then from that, tell us a bit about what you think his ambitions are both personally as a politician, but also, programmatically, you know, what is what is his vision of Israel, for example.

 

Noa Sattath

So, I've been working against Ben-Gvir for many, many years. The first time that I met him in-person was when he had just gotten his law degree. It was 2007, and he was submitting a petition to the Supreme Court against the Israeli police who gave the Jerusalem Open House license to have a pride march in Jerusalem. That was following an ACRI appeal after those police refused. And then when we won that appeal, he appealed the other way around, and then when you appeal, you have to supply a copy of the appeal to the different sides. So he had to come to the Open House and give us well, he didn't have to come, he could've sent a messenger, but he chose to come to the Open House and give us the appeal wearing rubber gloves, because he did not want to be contaminated by whatever it was that we were spreading. I've really been following him very, very closely for more than a decade now.

 

Ori Nir

Just to make sure I understood here, he thought that you were, trying to imply that you're contaminated. Was that? Okay, got it.

 

Noa Sattath

Classy guy. So, I think that he is very strategic, very smart. And his goal is not to be the Minister of National Defense, his goal is to be Prime Minister, which I think he's very, very far from getting there. But that's his goal. And I think that the dangerous, I mean, this is beyond the scope of where we are in terms of the override clause, and I'm warning you this is going to be very, this is what worries me most is that all of our previous cycles of violence, have begun with a change in the status quo on Al-Aqsa, Temple Mount. And that generated a response in Gaza and East Jerusalem. And then that deteriorated to various levels of horrific violence. And then the cycles always ended with Israel, pulling back from whatever it did on Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa. And now is the first time that we have, A) such an extremist minister who thrives on conflict, and, B) a minister, and even a cohort of coalition members, who are so dedicated to changing the status quo on Al-Aqsa. And so, we at ACRI are very, very worried that we would be getting into a cycle of violence, that it would be longer, more bloody and more dangerous than we've seen in the past. And I think that the American response, for example, that we've seen to saying we're not going to accept any changes is exactly what we need. And we need to keep pushing for that and keep making sure that's on the agenda. I think that's one of the major risks. And the very personal prediction that I have is that Ben-Gvir is going to try to outright Netanyahu. He's going to try and present himself as the real right-wing leader who, you know, who is saving Temple Mount, and Netanyahu as somebody who's trying to get him to get off the Mount and bow down to the Arabs. That's the way he would put it. And I think that that is an extremely, extremely dangerous situation. But that's also one of the options of how this government will end.

 

Ori Nir

I just wanted to share before you go Libby, just to just to let let you know that I met just recently a few days ago with a diplomat for one of the countries that recently normalized relations with Israel here in Washington, who told me that their nightmare and this this he says something that is shared by the various other countries that normalize relations with Israel is this kind of explosion in Jerusalem that would follow perhaps something like Ben-Gvir did in a limited way a few days ago. So yeah, so Jerusalem, I think I totally agree with you that Jerusalem is the could be the source for a big, big explosion. Yeah.

 

Libby Lenkinski

One of the things that we love to do as the liberal and progressive left is like, eat ourselves alive and say how much better the right is at everything than we are. I don't share that analysis. But I fall into it in moments like this. And I'm seeing some questions in the chat that are about like, I mean, I like what you said about Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu. When I was recently in Israel, a cab driver that I was talking, to a guy sort of like my age, really handsome tatted up like very tattooed, started talking politics with me because there was something that was on the radio, and I was hemming and hawing and saying, 'Oh my God, oh, I can't believe it' and whatever. And so we started talking and he was like, 'I'm looking at you and I imagine that you're probably live here in Tel Aviv. You're probably a Meretz voter. I'm just like you, I'm a Likudnik my whole life. I voted for Bibi. I'm not the crazies. I'm not Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, I'm a liberal, probably just like you.' And I said to him, 'It's so insane. It's like only in this moment, that you would think that there's not that much space between you and me as a Bibi voter.' It's only because the right has gotten so much more extreme and it really does make me think, and this is something that people are asking in the Q&A too, you know, the right is sort of presenting this unified front. But how unified are they? And how, how unified are they behind Yariv Levin's plan? How unified are they between other measures that have been out there? Like, are they a unified front? Or are there fissures? And if so, might we exploit those fissures?

 

Noa Sattath

I think that first of all, I want to say something about the Israeli left. Just to kind of give us a little bit of defense. I think that everywhere in the world democracies and crisis and populism is on the rise. Even in the U.S., and even when you beat them, it's really you should be beating them by a lot more than we are. And democratic narrative is still not fully adjusted to addressing populism, and that's true everywhere. And populism always thrives on finding an enemy and blaming them for everything. And the fact that Israel there really is an enemy. Israel is the perfect place for populism to grow. And in some sense that the crisis is not local, and the response will not be only local. We are part of a big wave of populism. And Israel is really a small speck of water in this huge storm that is happening. And we will be impacted by it. I'm sure that, I'm confident that democracy is the best system, that equality is the best value. And we will find a way to articulate that in the face of populism. And when we do, which will be a global thing, then that will also impact Israel. So just to phrase that, in terms of we've been analyzing the coalition agreements, they are insane. I think that the one thing that is very clear is that none of Bibi's partners really believes that he will follow through. These are agreements that were signed by people who have zero faith in each other. And I think that there's a lot of diversity. Inside the right-wing between the ultra-Orthodox have one agenda and Likud members have a different agenda, the ultra-nationalists have a different agenda. I think that in many issues, they would go with the extreme. So Likud members are not necessarily homophobic, but I don't know that they would risk their government at all, for the LGBT community. The ultra-Orthodox are against going on Temple Mount for halakhic reasons, it's banned. It's worse than Women of the Wall halachically, just saying, but I don't think that they will, they will risk their seats in order to prevent that from happening. I think that if there was a war, and they want to end the war, and the war creates a big toll on Israeli citizens and they want that to end, then that may be the result. But so I don't know what the factor lines are. But I think we will find out. I think, you know, Netanyahu wanted to assemble a government in two weeks. He had the power to do it. It took 60 days. And that's a demonstration of how fractured the government really is. And so I don't know that it's a relatively stable government. And it's very hard to predict right now, how long that will, that will last.

 

Ori Nir

We're nearing the end of our webinar, there are lots of questions that have been in the Q&A, and we won't be able to address them. But if you go on our websites, ACRI's website, which I put a link to in the chat, NIF's website, APN's website, there's lots of analysis and information there. ACRI's website is really, really information and analysis-rich, and I would very much recommend that you.

 

Noa Sattath

On the ACRI website we have a document with our analysis of all of the risks, or the major risks posed by this government, and it's very, it's not very long, but I hope that it clarifies the situation.

 

Ori Nir

Yeah, to end with I thought, no, maybe we can talk a little bit about the nature of the opposition to the measures that this government is taking, you know, outside the Knesset opposition, where is there significant, potentially effective opposition? Who are your allies were you working with?

 

Noa Sattath

So we've been seeing in the past weeks both the civil society world really rising to the occasion. Last Saturday night, we had 30,000 people in Tel Aviv and that's very encouraging. We've also been seeing people who have not been vocal in their opposition to the government, specifically, the Bar Association, have really taken a very central role in the protest movement, past Supreme Court justices, past chiefs of police have spoken like they've never spoken in the past. So that's an asset. And I think that we are beginning to see the economic heart of Israel, the software industry, and the data industry that have really been very silent in past years begin to mobilize and rise, it's still in process. And one of the things that is on the agenda is a strike. And I think that that would be very effective. We can make it happen.

 

Ori Nir

A strike to protest political measures, political moves?

 

Noa Sattath

Yeah. 

 

Ori Nir

Wow.

 

Noa Sattath

I think that anybody who is contributing to the Israeli economy should stop. Stop that contribution until the wind changes. I think that the center of Israeli society that is making the economy work, and the economy is the basis for everything this government does, is vastly opposed to these measures and would be deeply impacted by them.

 

Ori Nir

Yeah, go ahead, Libby. Yeah.

 

Libby Lenkinski

Noa, I just wanted to say that, as you know, as I mentioned earlier, like as somebody who's sitting as all three of us are sort of sitting in the middle of activism and civil society action. But I also just to lift up what you just said about the Bar Association and former chiefs of police and things like that. I think it'll be very interesting in the weeks going forward to see which state and quasi-state sectors are enforcing this government's policies and which are opposing it. So I'm in favor of your idea of a strike. And I, you know –

 

Noa Sattath

So am I. I like it.

 

Libby Lenkinski

Or that you mentioned here, and I'll say to the New Israel Fund supporters on the call, I can't speak on behalf of APN strategies that we do work very closely together, we do see it as our job to keep you abreast of these kinds of opposition efforts. And so you should be ready for your airwaves to be flooded with these stories, because we think it's particularly important. Noa said we all need your support. And the first step towards that is to just be aware that there are just so many Israelis stepping up in different kinds of ways to oppose either the totality of this regimes, you know, discourse or specific areas of it like in education, like in police and security and like the override clause and the changes to the judiciary. So I think I can speak maybe for Ori as well to say that we do see it as our job to keep you abreast of that through webinars, in our emails, on our social media, our podcasts and we need to be keeping track of those stories to know where we fit in. Also, on the advocacy side, there were so many questions about that today. So I will turn it back to you Ori. But I'll just say thanks to everybody for coming. And thank you Noa, for sharing your wisdom.

 

Ori Nir

Yeah, I mean, ditto of course, and we also have a network. We actually have a network of progressive Israel-related the Jewish organizations here in the United States who are working together and will intensify their collaboration to address this huge challenge that we're facing. One question that we saw a lot on the Q&A was whether this is recorded. So yes, it is recorded. As I mentioned before, there will be a video recording on APN's YouTube channel and an audio recording on our podcast. And with that, we've reached the end of our really interesting webinar. So thanks again, Libby and Noa, thank you very very much for joining us. This was really interesting and informative and sad. So thanks, everyone for joining and see you soon.

 

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