columnIsrael News

The Israeli left threatens murder and incites civil war

When the left began its anti-government campaign, the public expectation was that violent lawbreakers would be treated the same way as their right-wing counterparts had in the past. That has not been the case.

Anti-judicial reform protesters interrupt Knesset member Simcha Rothman during a panel on the Law of Return in Tel Aviv on April 24, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Anti-judicial reform protesters interrupt Knesset member Simcha Rothman during a panel on the Law of Return in Tel Aviv on April 24, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Caroline B. Glick
Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and host of the “Caroline Glick Show” on JNS. She is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14, as well as a columnist for Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.

On Sunday, retired Brig. Gen. Nehemiah Dagan, one of the heads of the left’s anti-government campaign, published a post on his Facebook that included an explicit call for civil war and physical destruction of the Kohelet Forum—a think tank in Jerusalem that Dagan and his associates have singled out for harassment and assault.

Dagan’s post, which he deleted three days later, is worth quoting at length.

“A response to a comrade. What do I propose …

“The current phase: Demonstrations, which we can maintain at their current level.

“The Black Flags are doing good work, also in the sense that they are challenging the other groups like for instance the pilots, the commandoes, the academics, the health people, the women, etc.

The Black Flags is a group of violent activists formed by Shikma Bressler in 2020 to carry out violent mob riots against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Channel 13, the Black Flags are financed by former prime minister Ehud Barak.

Dagan continued:

“The next phase: Transformation of the demonstrations into a protest that will neutralize all members of the coalition. Not the IDF’s “neutralization,” [i.e., killing]. Neutralization in the sense that the riots around them and around their offices will be of such a level that they won’t be able to work.

“In this vein, I make one exception: We need to cause the disappearance from Israel of the Kohelet Forum. I am suggesting this to the people who need to suggest it to.

“We must compel that institution to shut down and the two billionaires, (maybe also the Israeli) that finance it. They are the sort of Jews that the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion was based on.

“The next phase: Paralyzing the economy. Paralyzing the economy will necessarily foment violent clashes between the economy and the establishment that is liable to become a civil war. A civil war is a war.”

Dagan described the civil war as “short and violent.”

On Wednesday, Kohelet Forum’s attorney Ariel Erlich filed an urgent complaint against Dagan with the police and sent a copy to Attorney General Gali Baharav Miara, beseeching her to order the police to carry out a prompt and thorough investigation lest Dagan’s many followers carry out his call to kill Kohelet scholars and those who fund their operation.

Kohelet’s concern is well-placed. Since the left began its campaign of political violence in January, Dagan and his comrades have singled Kohelet out for abuse because Justice Minister Yariv Levin thanked Kohelet’s scholars for helping him to prepare his judicial reform proposals.

Last Thursday, a group of a hundred rioters gathered outside of Kohelet founder Professor Moshe Koppel’s home at 6:30 a.m. armed with megaphones, whistles, drums and incendiary banners. Led by former deputy chairman of the national security council Eran Etzion, they demonized Koppel and his life’s work, and intimidated and terrorized his family and neighbors. The police took an hour to show up. They made no arrests.

In February, thugs barricaded Kohelet’s Jerusalem offices with garbage, bricks and barbed wire. When Kohelet director Meir Rubin went outside to try to speak to them, the rioters, led by former commando officers, took a page from the Brownshirts playbook. They assaulted Rubin and stuffed fake dollar bills down his shirt.

Weeks later, a member of the goon squad spotted Rubin and his wife having dinner in a Jerusalem restaurant. He called his gang, and they stormed the restaurant and threatened Rubin, terrorizing him and his wife and the diners in the restaurant.

Two weeks on, using a fake flower delivery ruse, a group of female rioters stormed Kohelet’s offices, and harangued and assaulted its employees.

Former IDF Chief of Staff Bogie Yaalon, and another former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin threatened Koppel to his face in a meeting they requested at his office.

Harassed, attacked and intimidated

Throughout the past several months of leftist political violence, Kohelet scholars and donors have been subjected to a continuous stream of violent threats on social media.

Kohelet has filed repeated complaints with the police. To date, no one has been indicted.

Given the violent context of repeated assaults against Kohelet in which Dagan wrote his post, it is clear that his words must be viewed as a call for murder. Despite this—and despite the fact that his post was widely circulated and reported on by journalists—as of Thursday afternoon, Dagan had not been arrested or investigated by police.

The political violence that the leftist anti-government campaigners have directed against Kohelet is notable because Kohelet is not a political organization. Its “crime,” is thinking the wrong thoughts and working effectively with likeminded people to transform their “wrong thoughts” into legislation and government policy.

Kohelet personnel are far from the only ones who have been abused and attacked.

Leftist goon squads have repeatedly assaulted Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Simcha Rothman. Last Sunday, the Knesset member was assaulted and silenced at Tel Aviv University, where he was invited to speak on a panel. His security detail barely managed to block would-be assailants who repeatedly lunged at the lawmaker while their comrades were using megaphones, whistles, drums and shouts to intimidate and terrorize him. A similar fate met Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman at the University of Haifa last Wednesday. When Education Minister Yoav Kisch sent a letter to the University Presidents demanding that universities stop silencing half the country, they accused him of stifling academic freedom.

At the end of last week, Rothman, and several other lawmakers and government ministers, traveled to New York to participate in the annual “Celebrate Israel Parade.” Rothman and his wife were assaulted by rioters as they walked from a Shabbat dinner on Friday night to their hotel. The rioters were part of a delegation of anti-government thugs who were flown to the United States from Israel to attack and humiliate them during their public appearances.

As they walked down the street waiting for the local police to arrive to protect them, two megaphone-carrying rioters blasted curses at Rothman directly into his ears. The media, which have underplayed the violence of the attacks on the lawmakers, were quick to massively promote a clip of Rothman grabbing one of the megaphones out of the hand of a female rioter. The goal of the clip was to present Rothman as a violent man and his threatening assailant as an innocent victim.

Economics Minister Nir Barkat, Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli and other government ministers were similarly subjected to harassment and attempted assaults during their visits. Rioters flew to Toronto, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, as well as New York, to attack and humiliate them. On Wednesday, reporter Yaki Adamker revealed that one of the ministers told him that a member of his security detail had been leaking every detail of his schedule to rioters. Thursday, in Boston, an Israeli assailant supported by a mob screaming “Shame!” lunged at Barkat in the halls of an office building in Boston. Barkat’s bodyguards wrestled him to the floor. That was the fourth physical assault against Barkat since January.

The volume of menacing riots outside the homes of government ministers and coalition members is so vast that it is hard to keep track of them. Only the grossest examples of malice and violence seem to make the news, and when they do—as was the case with Rothman’s effort to defend himself and his wife from megaphone-wielding assailants—the media portray assailants as victims and politicians and their bodyguards as perpetrators. Journalists and media organizations who report critically on mob violence are likened to Nazis. Leftists led by Benny Gantz’s former political strategist Ronen Tzur are now waging a lawfare campaign against Channel 14 to get its broadcast license revoked.

When the left began its anti-government campaign, the public expectation was that violent lawbreakers would be treated the same way as their right-wing counterparts had in the past. In the overwhelmingly non-violent nationwide protests that led up to the expulsion of all Jews from Gaza and the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces from the area in August 2005, 6,000 protesters were arrested. Nine hundred were indicted for crimes related to the protests.

Since January, as leftist rioters repeatedly block highways and carry out acts of vandalism, harassment, mayhem and assault, a mere 96 people have been arrested, and no one has been indicted. None of the leaders of the mob campaign have been arrested or called in for questioning despite the fact that their identities are known.

‘Denied the right to distort reality’

How are we to contend with this situation where the most powerful institutions of governance are seemingly colluding with the leftist rioters against the elected leadership of Israel and their voters and supporters?

The obvious answer is that the government must fire Baharav Miara. She has blocked the police from arresting or investigating the rioters and those who direct their criminal activity. At the same time, she has blocked every government effort to assert its authority.

Unfortunately, firing her is not an option.

When Netanyahu tried to fire Defense Minister Yoav Galant after Galant gave a prime-time press conference calling for the cancellation of judicial reform while Netanyahu was in London, leftist rioters responded by paralyzing the country with nationwide strikes and violence. If the government fires Baharav Miara, their response will be much more violent. And the Supreme Court will reinstate her.

So if the government cannot fire Baharav Miara and her ilk—and she protects the likes of Barak, Dagan, Bressler and their shock troops on the ground—what can be done?

Before anything can change, the rioters and their partners in the governing bureaucracy, the opposition parties, the media and the courts must be denied the right to distort reality. Their actions are not “pro-democracy protests.” They are fascist mobs. They are not champions of democracy. They seek to destroy democracy in Israel and subjugate the public and Israel’s elected leaders to the permanent control of a hostile oligarchy led by the Supreme Court and the Attorney General. Those, in turn, represent the wishes of leftist, anti-religious Ashkenazim who are concentrated in Tel Aviv and its environs and hate the rest of the country.

To this end, they are engaging in lawfare and political violence, and defamation against the elected leaders of the country, their intellectual and media supporters and their voters.

The difference between the government and its voters on the one hand, and the rioters led by the likes of Barak, Baharav Miara, Bressler and Dagan on the other, is that the latter are willing to destroy the country to protect their privilege and prestige, while Netanyahu and his voters are determined to protect the country and keep it whole. Commitment to Israel’s survival places limits on what is possible.

The more exposed the true nature of the rioters and their bosses inside and outside of official Israel, the more options the government will have for defusing the situation and taking the actions that must be taken to protect Israel’s citizens, their rights and their democratic institutions.

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