Webinar Transcript- Israel's Incoming Government and Civil Society (12-22-2022)

Hadar Susskind  00:09

Hello, everybody, welcome. I am Hadar Susskind I'm the president and CEO of Americans for peace. Now, I'm thrilled to have you all with us today. In just a minute, I will introduce our wonderful guests. But for those of you who are regulars, you know that this is the part where we play my favorite Washington game: filibuster for a minute until everybody has signed on. So again, thank you for being with us on what is actually a really gross, rainy, awful day here in Washington DC. But hopefully, wherever you are, it's nicer than here I'm going to start us off actually before the intros and everything with just a little bit of housekeeping. So I remind everyone, first of all, that this webinar is being recorded, and we will share it with everyone who is here, everyone who has signed up. So if you want to watch it again later or share it with other people, you will be able to do that. We will start and have some opening remarks from our colleagues here. But after that, as usual, we will open it for questions and discussion. So again, please use the q&a function at the bottom of the screen and type your questions in. We will get to as many of them as we can, of course, please keep them relevant to the conversation. The chat will not be active. So we're not using the chat. We're not using the hand raised. If you want to get in with a question, please use the q&a function. So with that, I will say one more time. Welcome, everyone. Hello, you're so glad to have you with us. I'm Dr. Susskind, President and CEO of Americans for peace now and I have with me today, three friends who are wonderful guests, and I'm really excited to have them for this conversation. So first of all, Shaqued Morag, from our colleagues in Israel from Shalom Achshav from Peace Now. Shaqued is the Executive Director. Jessica Montell, the Executive Director of Hamoked, and Avner Gvaryahu, the co director, I think I got that right, of Breaking the Silence. So we're going to keep it short intros, because I know that all of you who are with us today know Shaqued, Avner, Jessica, and know of their and their great work. So we're gonna jump right in. And what we are here to talk about is, is difficult. It's the frankly, very difficult new reality that Shaqued and Jessica and Avner and many others are facing, which is the incoming Israeli government, which I'm sure everyone knows, has now been announced the coalition partners were announced last night and in their coalition agreements, you know, some of that language is about how they are going to, you know, basically attack civil society and attack, particularly progressive Israeli organizations. We know this government is not even a return to the bad old days of previous BiBi governments, it's, it's far worse than that. It's far more extreme than that in many, many ways that we can touch on. But one of them I think, is a really explicit language that we've heard from some of the members and some of the partners, and they've, you know, they've gone after some of your organization's already and some of you by name. So there's a lot and there's a lot to talk about, and a lot to think about how to respond to that. Shaqued, I'm gonna come to you first and just, I think, throw the whole question open, you know, what are you what are you seeing? What are you most concerned about with this new government, as it relates to how they're going to, you know, in how they're going to engage with Shalom Achshav and with other organizations and civil society?


Shaqued Morag  03:37

Well, I'll start with a very general framing, because we haven't seen the full agreements yet. And we in some of the bills are just what we call goats, that are going to be taken out afterwards or just what, like individual initiatives that might go forward or not. But the general atmosphere is that the West Bank is annexing as we've been talking about annexation of the West Bank, and in denying it, but not only that, the changes in authorities a symbolize and and pose a threat, use metal of actual annexation, but also the the modus operandi of how they treat a civil society is leaking already from the West Bank towards Israel. The and we already see how the way that they treat civilians the way they that that police treats Arabs and protesters and whoever that is making the work much harder. They're importing already the standards and the, the way the actions that they allowed themselves to do perform the important from the occupied territories into Israel. We've seen, for example, last week, confiscation of Palestinian flags and arrests of activists that were holding them in Haifa, inside Israel. That's after it's been a long time, but more intensively in the last few months, they they've been confiscating flags in the West Bank in Hawaii, and he's Jerusalem. And that's, I think that once we have ministers that are from the settlements, and not generally from settlements, but the most extreme ones, we're going to have two ministers from Hebron. This morning, I've talked to Michael Sfard, he said, it's a settlement that is smaller than a normal kibbutz. And we don't recall any time in history that the single peoples had two ministers in the government. So this tiny settlement is going to be represented by two ministers in the government. And it's not only that, they will change the law in a way that will prevent us from acting they are in bringing with them the general perception of who should and shouldn't be allowed to speak, who should and shouldn't be able to meet with soldiers, with students, with school students who should or shouldn't be able to go into universities, and schools, TV channels, newspapers, what seems today, a protected by law can be very easily changed not only by legislation, but also but by, by generally approach, let's say, that is sends the message that it's better not to let us have the state and have the right to speak. And I mentioned the media, we must remember that the media has already changed a lot. And in some of the changes might also cement this change. Reporters from what used to be channel 20, is now channel 14 are already in more mainstream media, this channel is becoming mainstream, and now is starting to close the the public channel. And the way that the media frames, a our activities, our messaging are a people given our title, the title that is given to us, you can see please now, the same report will will call us an extreme left organization. In in, let's say, Atoll, so game website of of the funeral, the date of the religious Zionism, and we will be called the political movement of the Zionist left on our newspaper and website. So once the more the voice of the extreme right becomes stronger and more mainstream, this will frame us differently, we will be less, I'm sure, less invited and less welcomed in a places that try to see themselves as centrist or is none political. We've experienced that back in 2015. Government. And one last thing that I will mention, and then I'll give the stage to Avner, that will come up I guess, with more concrete examples. But one thing that are is already mentioned that they're intending to do is to try and limit our sources of funding. It's already happened in 2015, when they forced us to announce once we are supported by foreign governments, now they claim that they're going to forbid it if you look very deeply into the legislation it says they'll forbid funding from states that Israel is not having relations with. But it's already framed as if a whatever foreign funding will be forbidden and limited. And again, even if it won't stop us from doing what we're doing, it will mark us in different colors and less, less legitimize ones. That's all for now.


Hadar Susskind  10:34

Thank you Shaqued. Avner, I  want to come to you next. And you know, I want your, your broad view on any of these pieces. But also just, you know, in thinking about Hebron, and what we've already seen with the actions of some of the soldiers there and how they are treating people from Breaking the Silence in particular, but from the left overall, you know, and how does that feel to you like this new incoming government is empowering that in a different way, also.


Avner Gvaryahu  11:03

So hi, everyone, it's a pleasure to be here. I think this is a really important conversation. I think it's so important that I'm holding myself from what's happening in the other room right now, which is Hanukkah party with my mother in law's house. And fondue, which is known throughout Jerusalem. But it's it's really good to be with you guys. Hebron, I think that as, as Shaqued mentioned, the entire reality for Palestinians, first and foremost, and for human rights organizations, human rights defenders, you know, those those Israelis and internationals trying to stand with and for Palestinian rights, is is going to be more under assault like everything Shaq had mentioned till now, let's remind ourselves is still under the previous government. Right? We've been seeing this shrinking space reality also, under this last government, with ministers from labor ministers from Meretz, who, in some cases, tried to curb some of these phenomenons and many places didn't try enough or didn't try at all. And in the end of the day, where where were we headed.. We had the we, we found ourselves exactly where where we were heading for a very long time. I think what we what we saw in Hebron over the last couple of weeks, maybe even months is definitely something that you know, those of us who have been in the city, feeling the atmosphere felt even before the results of the election but definitely emboldened by the beggar phenomenon. Right. And as you know, Shaqued mentioned 2 MKs out of 120 who reside in Hebron and and have for many years been main actors in the city. This emboldens a lot of the action so definitely a shift in in sort of the the actions of the settlers that that that's something that we've been feeling over the last couple of weeks, but I think that what unfolded a few weeks ago, the weekend after, Jews around the world read about the Shabbat Chayei Sarah was a very telling moment. So and for those of you listening that didn't follow all the details. What happened in Shabbat Chayei Sarah in Hebron, it was nothing less than a pogrom. I mean, it um, this is such a hard word to use, but that's what happened. There were 30,000 Jews who came to visit the city for the weekend, right sort of the settlers of Hebron, Woodstock, if you'd like, or Burning Man. And basically, there was violent attacks that started really, with the beginning of the weekend starting Friday, and these attacks continued throughout the weekend, in some cases 32 for the some case masked in some cases, not, settlers attacked Palestinian families. And this and this was a more extreme even than than what we've known in the past and the weekend afterwards, a group of Israelis, many of them actually ultra orthodox and and religious came to support Palestinians and solidarity. Right in my book, there's nothing more you know, Jewish, nothing more Israeli than that you go and support families under attack. And they were basically not only detained and, and harassed by soldiers, but eventually, one of these activists was beaten up. Some of the videos are online, you can find them just Google, you know, Hebron and the last things you'll find are definitely that. And what happened in that junction, by the way, it's the same junction that Zarya shot and killed the Palestinian, the very famous case, a very tense place. What unfolded there was something that for us who visit Hebron regularly was was surprising, because it's not that all the soldiers love what we do, it usually takes a while for them, you know, those of them that will break their silence to come and speak with us. But while they're there were a nuisance. But the fact that they not only started this confrontation with a group, but then detained and later on, you know, beat up this activist really shows how they're emboldened by the big fear doctrine. And that is something that is already affecting Palestinians. The the soldier who, who beat up the activist, afterwards, I learned this was pretty known to the Palestinians living until Roma does this aggressive soldier. So this translates into how Palestinians are treated, but also a general atmosphere for activists in in the city itself. And I think that part of what we're trying to anticipate and and see how we, how we address it, or prepare ourselves is what what's going to unfold in the city and what's going to happen there. And we'll, at some point, will, will, will they close off the city? And I think something, you know, a few of us were talking about this actually, in a meeting this morning... I think part of of what could be an outcome of this government is, you know, we're constantly trying to expose realities, right, and break silences and talk about realities on the ground. But it's very much the might be that with this new government will see a much more proactive, proactive measures to prevent internationals from entering specific places are generally the West Bank. Journalists, activists, and I think that that makes this moment and this conversation of, you know, of all of us together, so much more important, right? And making sure that the information keeps flowing, that we continue talking about the reality now and by saying a headline that, that I saw today in Israel Hayom right, Israel Today, the right wing newspaper, the front page was basically some sort of signal from, from the US to this new Israeli Government about not giving visas to violent settlers, which, which was something that was on the radio for a very long time. And I think that one of the things that this government will fear is exactly the work that that all of us here are doing is is this kind of conversation, sharing information exposing realities talking about, about settler violence and settlement expansion, and the violence of occupation. So I think yeah, Hebron is a place to definitely look at, not because it's, it's out of the ordinary, but because it tells, you know, such a, such an important story about what's happening in other places as well.


Hadar Susskind  19:05

thank you Avner. You know this story you just mentioned about, you know, the the US considering not giving visas to those suspected of being part of violent attacks, because well, I shared it this morning. It, it's a big deal. It is a big deal. On the other hand, when I shared it, I wrote, you know, us considering treating Israel like all other countries, right, because actually, it shouldn't be a big deal. Like, that's literally American policy. It's not American policy for everything except for Israel. But that's often been the way it actually plays out. One little side note, and I'm going to share this private thing on a video that's being recorded and we're going to put out publicly but it is being referred to, at least among certain people here in Washington as the Ben Gvir Rule, right because while it is stated as a general and I think they mean it, it could apply to anyone. There is literally a question as to whether Ben Gvir would be himself granted a US visa should he seek to come here - which my guess is Netanyahu is smart enough to try to keep them clear from from finding out the answer to that question, but we shall see. With that, Jessica, I want to turn to you, you know, so much of your work is engaging directly interfacing directly with Palestinians trying to help them navigate the, you know, intentionally Byzantine processes of the occupation and all the bureaucracy around that. So, you know, Avner was talking about and Shaqyed was was touching on also, you know, issues around violence and delegitimization. Of the left, but what about what they could just literally do to your work and  your day to day ability to do that?


Jessica Montell  20:38

Yes. First, it's great to be here. And to see such interest and engagement on these issues. It's clear that the new government will result in a very severe deterioration for Palestinian human rights, and a real threat to the ability of those who defend Palestinians to be able to do our work. And I don't think there are a lot of secrets they've been very open, I mean, that the coalition negotiations, the agreements between Netanyahu and the coalition partners, all of these figures, we know for months and years, what their agenda is. So on the one hand, we have a lot of information to be preparing for what's to come. That doesn't necessarily make it easier. So I mean, I would flag Bezalel Smotrich who now-- they are passing laws that he would be the second Minister within the Defense Ministry, specifically, his coalition agreement states that he would be in charge of the civil administration, and appointing the head of the civil administration. And much of the focus around that the civil administration is actually an arm of the Israeli military responsible for civilian affairs. So of course, he's concerned about settlements. And you know, legalizing outposts setting up new settlements, infrastructure, funding, support, expansion of settlements, all of that is part of the job of the civil administration. But most of the civil administration, in fact, is dealing with Palestinians. And this has really been lost sight of in all of the talk around the Smotrich law. You know, the whole permit bureaucracy, Palestinians who need a permit to build a house in Area C, but Palestinians throughout the entire West Bank, who want to move from place to place between the West Bank and Gaza, to enter Jerusalem or Israel, to cross the separation wall to get access to their lands. On the other side, I mean, everything, you need a permit from the Civil Administration, who now is going to be headed by, you know, the person who has spent most of their career restricting Palestinian development in Area C and expanding settlements there. So it's quite blatant and extreme what his agenda is. And then, you know, the flip side of that, also, as you said, the ability of us to be doing our work. And I've never started to talk about this, anything that has been even a little bit effective, they are going to target. So the ability of solidarity activist to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, the ability of us to be challenging their actions in the Israeli courts. And we know that they have marked, you know, the courts as a site of opposition to them. I mean, absurdly considering the courts to be left wing and very interventionist, in terms of restricting Israeli Government and military policy, although we know, in fact, it's exactly the opposite. I mean, humble kid is probably the organization with the biggest caseload in terms of petitions to all levels of the Israeli judiciary. Now, we're winning a lot of cases. But you know, not the big important cases. I mean, this morning, we were in the Supreme Court challenging a punitive home demolition, it's clear, we will lose that petition before we even set foot in the courtroom. So it's not at all the case that the court is, you know, tying the hands of the military, or the government and yet this rhetoric around having to restrain the courts. So, you know, how, how will they go about both appointing judges that are aligned with their ideology, and also passing laws that restrict who can petition the court under what circumstances what the courts can rule on? All of those questions. And, and I think for me, there are two you know, this sort of broader implications of this government of all sorts of forces that we are familiar with. And it's really important to point out that this past year has been terrible for Palestinian human rights. I mean, maybe the worst, in a decade or two, when it comes to really all of the parameters. The numbers of deaths and injuries of Palestinians, the numbers of Palestinians in administrative detention, settlement expansion, settler violence, not being restrained. And that has been confusing for a lot of people to have a government where you have merits and the Labour Party as part of the government. And yet the reality on the ground has been so terrible for Palestinians. All of those forces are only going to be heightened. And I think both in terms of the shaping of the narrative. And on the one hand, you have these very radical forces that will be encouraged and magnified, and a self censorship on the part of, you know, whole sectors of society that don't want to, you know, risk infuriating, you know, being in the sights of these people. I mean, in terms of the Choquette gave the example of what is peace now and how you can frame Peace Now, what is so clear to me in all of the conversations around area see that? Let's say the journalists that in parentheses to explain what is area see, they say those parts of the West Bank under complete Israeli control, no, the West it there, it's not under the control of the Israeli Knesset or the Israeli government. The West Bank is under complete Israeli military control. But But already this shaping of the narrative that actually Area C of the West Bank is ours is is Israel's, you know, all along, we have had that battle, that'll, let's say over the narrative. And that only is going to increase that sort of entrenchment, not only of the policies, but of how we are allowed to talk about all of these issues. I mean, you know, whether occupation is a factual legal term to describe Israeli military control over the West Bank, or occupation, is some radical, you know, expresses a radical political agenda to call the West Bank under Israeli military occupation. And then the second issue that I want to flag this sort of self censorship, you know, Israelis are afraid, and for good reason, I mean, a broad section of Israelis, let's say mainstream, you know, as it is, nobody wants to identify as being left left has a very negative connotation for the majority of Israelis. And then you think about judges that are dependent on this government for promotion, civil servants, journalists, public figures, I mean, you know, everyone that then is undertaking some sort of calculus about how to weather this government. And of course, that is scary for Well, precisely at the time that everyone needs to stand up. I mean, everyone really needs at this point, to stand up. A lot of people are not going to be willing to take the personal risk, that standing up is going to require.


Hadar Susskind  28:48

Thank you. So I want to remind everybody who's with us that if you've got questions, you can use the q&a font function. Any you know, and we will, we'll go through and get to as many of them before I go to some of the questions. I just want to ask our guests. Is there anything else that came up in the conversation that you want to respond to or add to maybe Shaqued irst? If not, I can go to questions. That's fine.


Shaqued Morag  29:16

Sorry, you want me to address the questions?


Hadar Susskind  29:19

No, no, I was saying before I started asking all the questions. Is there anything that either I've never said or Jessica said that you wanted to speak to?


Shaqued Morag  29:27

No, no, I think they covered the entire thing. And I not doing well, thank you.


Hadar Susskind  29:35

Okay, then. Then I'm gonna go start taking some of the questions here. And again, you know, some of these I'm gonna smush together in a couple of different ways, because there are a lot of them that, that speak to the same questions. So, you know, actually, Jessica, what you were just talking about, about, you know, how are people going to stand up and who's going to be willing to take those personal risks? So we know that's true of people like the three of you who lead civil society organizations, we're also seeing the push now  around educators on in terms of what's going on with education in the country and asking people to stand up there. But one big area and one big question mark that I can say, you know, for me, as somebody who served in the IDF now quite a long time ago, is, frankly, a terrifying question is, how is the military going to respond to this? And how is the military gonna respond to the new political leadership? And also specifically, right, there's a new religious IDF Chief of Staff. And do we think that? Do we think that the military, both in terms of its rules of engagement, how it treats Palestinians, but also how it treats Israeli citizens and how it engages around things? Like I've known what you were talking about and cover on? You know, do we think that's going to change? What, what, what are the questions and concerns around that? And, Avner, I'll start with you on this. And anybody else who wants to weigh in, obviously? 


Avner Gvaryahu  30:57

Yeah, I mean, I think that it's  it's a real question. I mean, both the military and the police and other different institutions. It's sort of an interesting and weird and maybe even funny for those of us following. We're in this battle for a while, sort of, as you know, many of us have been sort of our camp has been challenging the institutions for many years. And now it's sort of we're looking to the institutions to save us, right. Will the military be strong enough to stand the political changes? Will the will the Will the police be strong? So I think we have in order to be able to, I think that to pass these, these four years better than where we are now. Maybe less, maybe more? I don't know. But but to pass that and utilize this moment, we have to be honest. And if we're honest about definitely about the military, we have to know, we have to be we have to we have to be frank, that the the settlement movement has been, you could say has been using, or you could say has been working with various elements of of various institution, but definitely the Israeli military. Right there. Jessica mentioned the civil administration. And we'll be happy to share sort of a short document that some of us put together around sort of the coalition agreement, and sort of the real intentions of, of the religion scientists have smoked, reach and attend now. And sort of what they're planning to do within the civil administration. We just published a report a few months ago detailing what the civil administration is, and dozens of testimonies of soldiers serving in the civil administration in recent years, the civil administration is not a body that's there that's there to deal with the civilian aspects of Palestinian lives. It's another arm of control, it's there to maintain our control over Palestinians. It's true that they have different elements and aspects and things that have to do with civilian lives. But it's all in that prism. So I'm saying that just when we try to look at what what might happen within the military, we have to understand that the military has been used by the settlement movement or is working with a settlement movement for many, many years. And this will will obviously go to a whole new level. So I don't think we can look to the military to stop this, we might see moments of sort of trying to hold on to some of the sort of military ethos or to hold on to specific elements that that are dear to the military. But in terms of the ability to push back on political pressure. I think if there's something that we what we've seen throughout the years, is that part of the reality of the Israeli occupation and the military occupation, is the military is not built to deal with political pressure. Right? They know how to how to deal with Palestinian protests or Palestinian violence, right. That's what they're built to do. They know how to go to war, right? That's what the military does. They know how there's all kinds of things militaries know what to do with the with the military does not know how to do and is not built to do is deal with political pressure. And we've seen this throughout the year. As you know, some members of parliament that represented merits in recent elections, there are, you know, stories of them as high ranking officers, and then being pressured by the settlers to do things that don't align with their political ideology. And I think when When, when, when that was true 1015 20 years ago, this will definitely be true. When not only Ben Gvir will have power but let's not forget that the Likudnik's ideology, right? Bibi's ideology, in many cases in that far right, you have Galan who is probably going to be the minister of defense, right? He's he's not a he's not a member of peace now. Right. I mean, I mean, in that sense, the entire system is going through a very dramatic change. And I think that that, especially because of that, like understanding where we are, right, that that's sort of a shift that has been going on for many, many years of strengthening the, the center right in the far right, or sort of the apartheid camp or the you know, forever occupation camp. We have to understand that the addition of Smotrich and Ben Gvir is is up the stream. Right and not not not against the stream. Maybe that's I'll end with that.


Jessica Montell  36:28

So maybe I'll just jump in to add because I think what is different is the removal of the mask. And and both the Ben Gvir the coalition agreements for Ben Gvir politicizing the police in a in an explicit way, that has never been the case before that the commissioner of the police is now directly, you know, answers to the most extremist of the of the ministers and also smooth rich that that again, he will be appointing the head of the civil administration and the head of COGAT that the coordinator for government activity in the territory. So again, that it's that it is explicit that somebody with that ultra nationalist agenda is politicizing these bodies. And in some ways, that's an opportunity for us. I mean, again, this confusion of a terrible government doing terrible things. That is a coalition, including left wing politicians, which has in some ways stymied also the international community. And you saw very clearly the way that Europe and the United States were unwilling to do anything that would undermine this previous government over this past year. So the fact that a lot of trends that we have been warning about that have been, you know, somewhat submerge that have been not explicit. Now, everything is clear and explicit, there is no illusion about this government about who are the people who are we give, given unprecedented powers, I mean, powers that the minute the exact same minister in the last government did not have. So that mask being removed is an opportunity, if all of us, and that definitely includes, you know, the international community, the US administration you know, has to be able to seize that opportunity to respond appropriately. 


Hadar Susskind  38:40

Yeah. And I'll tell you, you know, you said that European governments, the US government's didn't want to push too hard. I mean, for the last, you know, few years, that's what we heard, when we met with Biden administration officials, when we met with senior leaders in Congress, we got over and over again, you know, when when Bennett and Orla peed, were were in power. Well, we can't push too hard because, you know, the government there is so so fragile. And if it falls apart, we're gonna get a horrible right wing government. Well, we all know where we sit today. I will say, having spent this this last holiday week here in DC, as it's been with the opportunity to be at a number of different congressional receptions and White House events and talk to some of these senior people. I do think there is an understanding in Washington, that this is different. And a conversation I have had with senators this week with senior White House people this week, was saying, you know, we, all of us, including those political leaders, need to be prepared to think about and talk about and do things that we haven't done in the past and things that we were not necessarily willing to do or at least they were not willing to do in the past because they were uncomfortable, but that this is a different reality. And, you know, that's, as everybody on this call knows or assumes that's going to take some time to actualize. But there were a lot of shaking heads. And I think there really is an understanding that things are different and require some different responses. Shaqued, I want to come to you with a different kind of question, actually. And we'll come back to what the US should do and more policy. But one of the questions that's actually come up in the q&a spot of a few times in different ways, and then people have asked me as we're preparing to bring an APN group to Israel and Palestine soon is, you know, are you actually personally afraid concerned for your safety? I'm not and I talked a little bit before about activist being, you know, being attacked by police. All of you are literally out there on the front lines. How, you know, how does that... How do you feel about that?


Shaqued Morag  40:49

So the short answer is, yes, it's frightening. And I become a mother during this year, and I am less willing to expose myself to risky situations, of course. And it's frightening when the police that is supposed to defend, you might pose another threat of violence. And, of course, soldiers violence is something that we haven't experienced much before. And this is not to us as well. But I must say that, I mean, in terms of violence, the whole issue, that what brings us to the political activity that we're doing is violence that we're trying to prevent. So we don't have the privilege to avoid a activity and avoid going out there. And if we're absent, things are going to change in our absence, we must be there one way or another. And, and our reaction is, is the opposite. I mean, in the face of violence, we should bring more and more Israelis that support the two state solution in our case, and they oppose Occupation and the proposed violence, to bring them to the ground. And at some point, they could, they will not be able to call everybody on artists. I mean, it's so absurd that it was a delivered as okay to attack a group in Hebron because they are anarchists, whoever knows them knows that they're far from that definition. And when when we bring more and more Israel, Israelis that are a, let's say, not anarchists, I, I hope that it will minimize some of the violence. And again, we don't have an alternative. We don't. I mean, if we don't meet this violence, there will be there. The next clash between Palestinians and Israel is one way or another inside Israel, or in the West Bank, or, I mean, I, personally, truly don't believe that the policy of this government will keep us more safe than the previous governments, or, of course, then a peace agreement. So they use the excuse of personal security. But in fact, we are all going to be exposed to more and more violence in Israel, not only out there in the territories. So now in this in this climate violence becomes something more casual, that has less less effect on activists, unfortunately, but but when you use your your weapon, you make it when you normalize it. So I mean, the other side's weapon when they use violence, and as you can see it and invite more protests, When the police used water guns on protesters, it brought more protesters because in the face of violence, people can visualize and understand the threat. It's not a vague anymore. You can you can witness it, you can sense it. So I mean, in a way, it might even make us stronger. Hopefully.


Hadar Susskind  44:45

Hopefully, indeed. Okay, I'm just looking at the time we've got 15 minutes. I've got a couple topics I still want to hit. So one question that's come up in a few a few questions here is sort of I phrased it as: But what now? And so there's some questions about, you know, what now is there, you know, new political parties and movements on the horizon to respond to this? What now? Is there new movement, collective movement organizing on the horizon responding to this? And also specifically, you know, is there any growing movement among, you know, young people refusing to serve? So, so I would say, I'm looking at all that are what, what are the responses that you think we will, we are seeing or hopefully we'll see from the progressive side. And I know, that's a that's big and broad. So there's a lot of different pieces that we can put in there. But maybe Avner, I'll come to you first with that.


Avner Gvaryahu  45:46

So, you know, sort of in Kings phrases, right phrases is like, where do we go from here? Right. I think it's a title of one of his books and famous speeches like, where do we go from here? And I think that the the first thing that we are going to go in to see is trying to embolden strengthen, build, see how strong the house that we build this, right, because many of us, I think, since 2015- 16, with the last wave of sort of very aggressive attacks on on many of us. I'm sure this is true. of course, Jessica and Shaqued, I would say personally, that when I started my role as director, and later on co director, a lot of what we were thinking about was, how do we prepare our house? Right, our organization, our community, for the storm? Right, and you don't know how strong your house is till the storm hits. So we're about to see how strong the house is that we built. And I think that is going to be a very big element. But I, I think that through that, we will also see what emerges, because to your question, there's a lot of ideas out there and a lot of feelings of, you know, a very clear feeling. I think probably one of the strongest and most important feelings is that the sort of the the the lack of political outlet, that we're in a sort of political catastrophe, it's not only the demise of merits, right, it's a weakening of labor, it's the split of the joint list, in the end a lot of what organizations and movements can do. And it's, it's not that many, many see sort of the civil society organizations as an alternative to the political sphere, that that that is wrong, right? We cannot, it cannot be an alternative, it has to be part of a puzzle. And I think at this point, that's the biggest thing that we don't have, because it's not that there are, you know, if you look at the numbers, the same amount of center left or left these, you know, it's, it's, they didn't disappear, the people are still here, right. And there's a big, big energy of people that feel they don't have not only that don't have a voice, but now that they're, they're under attack. And there's an there's an interesting moment here, where, you know, my my, my brother in law works in sort of a pluralistic branch of sort of Jewish education that has joint projects with the Ministry of Education. I just spoke with him a couple of days ago, and I said that you guys worried like, you think you're on the radar? And he was like, I don't think so. So he just texted me like, Oh, we're on the radar. We're on the blacklist. You know, I think it's something that it creates a moment and this moment is true for us here. It's also true for you guys there. But But I think that the heart of what what we do see is is a lot of a moment of organizing and and people coming together from places that you wouldn't necessarily expect. And I think that from that, I hope that we will also see more opportunities for maybe a political outcome. I saw one of the questions talked about new party that is the or party that that's coming up. I don't think it's there yet. There's a lot of ideas. But but but I think that it's a bit too early to sort of understand that and there's there's at least two to four years that we have to deal with this. So I actually think the right thing to do is to understand how who we are what the camp is and how we fight back, and then think of sort of the next steps in that sense.  Gotcha. So one of the other things that I want to throw it out to all three of you is, you know, a question. We have been mostly talking, obviously, in this conversation about Israeli Jewish Israeli civil society, organized organizations. Can you tell us, you know, Are there efforts to strengthen cooperation with Palestinian civil society organizations, whether that's, you know, Palestinian citizens of Israel, or West Bank, Palestinians? Maybe Jessica, you want to speak to that a little bit?


Jessica Montell  50:35

Yes. And, you know, the issue that I, I wanted to raise throughout this conversation is about privilege and the shiftin identities around privilege that we're going to see with this new government. And it has been very clear up till now. I mean, what I the risks, I take what I expect from the police and the military, in terms of their treatment of me, even as somebody who is speaking out in protest, who is taking action, to be challenging them. Still, it has always been very clear, I think, for all of us, on this call as Jewish Israelis, we benefit from a privilege that Palestinians under occupation, cannot do the same things that we do with the same level of safety, and Palestinian citizens of Israel, also. So this sort of hierarchy is going to be undermined in to some extent. And on the one hand, I think all of us that have a level of privilege need to be standing in solidarity with people that are more vulnerable. But I think new categories of people, I mean, the the blacklist, as was referred to, and apparently there is such a list, you know, with names and organizations that these extremist ministers have already prepared. And it's not just us who are already used to being on their blacklist, but LGBTQ activists, and you know, the reform movement, that is also enemy number one, for this government. So this past year, when you had attacks on Palestinia human rights and civil society organizations, it was very important that Israelis stand in solidarity with with them, I mean, the criminalization of Palestinian organizations, the fact that Al Haq, and other well respected human rights organizations were called terrorist organizations and, and are threatened with being shut down that we are not cowed by that, again, that attempt to change the narrative, and stand with them. And I think then that is the test for, you know, it's a whole like assembly line that that everyone has to support, you know, the people in front of them that are being subjected to attack. I mean, that's how we see, as I've never said, how strong our house is, who stands who's willing to stand with us. And of course, the risk is mitigated, the more that it's shared among all of us. I mean, that's, you know, the more everybody steps up, and there are people, you know, there's a little bit of a phenomenon here of the dog catching the car. And, and not everyone who voted for all of the parties that are coming into power, are happy with the most extremist elements that are being given powers that not everyone wants them to have. So, I mean, again, there are opportunities to be expanding the community of people who speak up whose support others that are vulnerable and under attack. And, and of course, the the major alliance that has to be built is between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. I mean, both in terms of the political organizing that has to happen, as the as the political alternative to this government, and also in civil society, where you have already strong bonds, but those have to be really invested in and made stronger.


Hadar Susskind  54:24

So thank you. I want to ask and Shaqued I'm going to come to you with this first question about one more part of the broad coalition, which is actually the diaspora Jewish community and particularly, obviously, in our case, the American Jewish community. You know, there are lots of examples that all of us could list over the past years where US government pressure and US Jewish communal displeasure, has had an impact on the Israeli government. Right now, people here are terrified in the American Jewish community that this government is basically saying we don't care and we're seeing, you know, not just like you're saying not just the usual suspects, not just us, you know, we're seeing a Foxman come forward and say, Oh, maybe his support for Israel is conditional. Now, of course, his condition has nothing to do with treatment of Palestinian, or treatments of Israeli civil society. It's about, you know, defining who was a Jew. But the reform movement, as you mentioned, people like Abe Foxman, Tom Friedman, other folks who are have not been, as Chuck had been saying, you know, the anarchist left are coming forward and expressing their concern, and so far feel like they're getting, you know, nothing back from from this incoming government. So I guess the question part in this is, you know, do you think this government is going to care about the voice of the American Jewish community? And then the thing I want all of us to, to kind of end with is giving down the American Jewish community, the actual American political voice, you know, how much do we think they're going to care about that? Because obviously, that's what where we spend our time and there are a lot of things where I think there are opportunities for that. But it's a big question that a lot of people here are asking. So Shaqued, I'll start with you, and then we'll go around.


Shaqued Morag  56:10

Thank you. First, I must say that the turnout to this event shows that the there is interest among the Jewish community abroad and that we must strengthen this collaboration. I think that it first, what did what has already happened in Israel is that the Israeli wider opposition camps, let's let's that was represented generally by the last government, and is now becoming opposition is starting to understand that there is a strong link between the different threats that the new government poses, you cannot just objectively just defend, let's say, women's rights, or LGBTQ rights, or a separation of state and religion, or a freedom in education and ignore the occupation, or ignore the racism against them, the Arab society in Israel, it's all linked and the those values on the right wing, as I said, they came from the same source back in the most exquisite extremist settlements in the West Bank. And I really hope that this link can strengthen abroad as well. Because our impression is that sometimes it's easier to recruit the diaspora around the Judaism issues, rather than the questions of the Palestinian Israeli conflict, because then you can split around the let's say, vision and solutions and two state solution one solution, and if we agree that the occupation is a major threat, and regardless the solution, we should unite and objected and object, then the new steps of annexation, that will prevent any solution. I think that the most urgent understanding that must be shared among all active, active Jewish communities abroad. And also, if we talked about a US Civil Society in Israel being threatened include and delegitimized. I believe that the strong support from the mostly the Jewish communities in the states will give us a strong back. I mean, it's easy for them to say that we are agents of foreign governments from Europe, led and of course, when it's Germany is some of the right wingers have some more criticism. But once we are supported by the Jewish community in the States, it gives us more legitimacy. It means that we represent the Jewish people, not only the Israeli left, we come from Jewish values, we are driven by the same feelings. And I think I can't stress enough how important the role of the Jewish community abroad is and will be in the future and I'm sure also that even if some of the extreme right, belittles the importance of the connections between the US and Israel, Netanyahu will not harm it so easily. And it can be a France that that will distract or will will prevent some of the harm. So thanks again for being with us tonight. And for for being interested.


Hadar Susskind  1:00:35

Okay, I want to go Jessica, and then Avner, just a minute or so each we're, you know, we're running past but closing thoughts that you want to share with folks?


Jessica Montell  1:00:45

Yeah, so I jump on in terms of I mean, let's focus on what, for this audience that US Jewish community and the US administration, this government will make noises, much less responsive to criticism and concerns from the American Jewish community and from the US administration? They perhaps don't all of them understand how dependent the Israel is, on those communities. Economically, diplomatically. You know, all in all sorts of ways, there is a huge and diverse toolbox. You know, all of those settlements, have friends of organizations, fundraising in the United States, enjoying tax exempt donations. How long is that going to continue? I mean, one tiny example, again, of what I think is a very diverse toolbox that can and should be used to make clear to this government that benefits come because of shared values and a behavior in line with international expectations. I mean, this government takes for granted all of the benefits of the relationship with Europe and still has, you know, the nerve to be saying that Europe is hostile to Israel, when, of course, the United States government and Europe, European Union, all of the member states, the best friend that Israel has, and really, that the link between privileges, and, you know, behavior and shared values has to be made much more clear.


Hadar Susskind  1:02:34



Avner Gvaryahu  1:02:35

You have now, a short anecdote, when Netanyahu started, his last, last government that was seen as the most right wing government in the history of Israel, when a kid was Minister of Justice and benefit and so on. He was that was one of the moments when the tenure was in conversations with Nani Moses. Right, who was the publisher of the the the whole note, some of these conversations leaked, right as part of the indictments against Antonio in the back and forth. And there was a moment there that I think is is important, especially for in this crowd, where Nani Moses asks, now, aren't you scared of the pressure or the criticism of the world as you're forming this right wing government? And attack now answers? The world doesn't matter. There's only one country that matters. And that's the US. And Netanyahu didn't change his mindset. If there's something you can say and attend. Now he's all in he's the same, same Netanyahu. You know, we've been throughout his political career. And in that sense, the importance of making your voices heard, you know, your communities, your rabbis, your synagogues, speaking to your elected officials, is so important to this point. And I really agree with Jessica, it's not necessarily as if the government will respond automatically, but they are paying attention. And also something to remember. There will be a day after this government. And it's important to continue to build those ties and bridges for the day after.


Hadar Susskind  1:04:21

That's right. Wonderful. Thank you for those closing thoughts on our Jessica, thank you shake head. For those of you who asked, we had over 225 people who are on with us today. So I appreciate each and every one of you. I appreciate you for being here today. And for all of your support. I will take this year end opportunity to urge you to please continue that support for APN and for our colleagues and friends. We can't do this work without you. So thank you all and we will see you soon. Goodbye.