(February 17, 2023 / JNS) The Movement for Quality Government (MQG) in Israel is the far-left organization at the epicenter of the Israeli left’s war against the Netanyahu government. MQG began its current campaign of delegitimization, subversion and demonization immediately after the Netanyahu government was sworn into office on Dec. 29. The next day, MQG petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent Shas leader Aryeh Deri from serving as a minister in the government.
There was no legal basis for the petition. But that didn’t bother the lawyers at MQG.
In its petition, MQG claimed that the terms of a plea deal Deri reached with the State Prosecution last year on tax reporting errors barred him from serving as a minister. Never mind that nothing in the plea deal stipulated anything of the sort or that 400,000 Israeli voters cast their ballots for Shas with the full expectation that Deri would serve as a senior minister.
Like MQG, the Supreme Court justices didn’t bother giving a legal basis for their decision to act on MQG’s petition and bar Deri from serving as a cabinet minister. The justices said Deri’s appointment was “unreasonable,” and with a stroke of a pen, the court retroactively disenfranchised Shas voters.
Building on its success, late last month MQG submitted a new petition asking the justices to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As in the case of Deri, MQG’s petition is based on a political rather than a legal argument. MQG argues that as a criminal defendant, Netanyahu is unfit to serve. The premier, MQG insists, is acting with a conflict of interest by overseeing judicial reforms while on trial. And as a result, the justices should declare him unfit and remove him from office.
Never mind that the justices have a conflict of interest since it is their powers the government’s proposed reforms would check. Never mind that in a bid to prevent politicized judges and prosecutors from overturning the will of the voters, the law explicitly permits prime ministers to serve not only while standing trial, but even if convicted. And never mind that the charges against Netanyahu have fallen apart in Jerusalem District Court.
MQG saw with the Deri ruling that the justices feel no inclination to respect either the law or the will of the voters when their personal interests are at stake. And indeed, last week, Justice Daphne Barak-Erez gave the attorney general and the government a month to explain why the court shouldn’t overturn the votes of 2.4 million Israelis who voted for Likud and its coalition partners to return Netanyahu to the Prime Minister’s Office.
In a withering response to Barak-Erez’s order, Justice Minister Yariv Levin described MQG as “a gang of lawyers who do not respect the outcome of the election, working to carry out a coup and remove the prime minister from office.”
Levin continued, “It’s not surprising that the partners in this effort are the same ones leading the opposition to judicial reform: the leftist group which refers to itself as the Movement for Quality Government, the attorney general and the Supreme Court. This effort to oust the prime minister in contravention of the law, while trampling on the democratic election, is no different from a coup that is carried out with tanks. The goal is the same. The outcome is the same.”
Lawfare, or the use of the language of law and the judicial process to achieve political, rather than legal, outcomes, isn’t the only aspect of the left’s current campaign to overturn the election results where MQG is leading the charge. The movement is also the primary organizer and sponsor of the mass protests against judicial reform. The speakers at the rallies stand under the MQG banner when they call for insurgency, civil war and violence.
Since the media, as full partners in MQG’s efforts, are working now as full-time propagandists, no one is asking the organizers who finances their activities. Someone is paying tens of millions of shekels to rent buses to transport scores of thousands of people to rallies, buy them flags, print banners and signs, rent stages and sound systems, and finance ad campaigns in every newspaper and on billboards across the country.
Whoever is footing the bill, the front group for all of it is MQG.
A look at MQG’s funding reports on the Government Registrar of Non-Profits website doesn’t reveal much. MQG’s private and institutional donors are unnamed. But under the law, all registered nonprofits are required to report funding they receive from foreign governments. So MQG’s only named donor on its annual reports is the U.S. State Department.
According to MQG’s annual reports, for the past three years the State Department has been funding its programs for “democracy education” in Israeli high schools. Since MQG’s primary activity is subverting democracy in Israel by waging lawfare and sowing chaos in a bid to block democratically elected right-wing governments from fulfilling their pledges to voters, it’s fairly clear that when MQG refers to “democracy education,” it doesn’t mean majority rule.
In this week’s Caroline Glick Show, parents’ rights activist Roni Sassover explained that “democracy” curricula like those promoted by MQG are disguised efforts to subvert Israeli democracy. In the case of its school programs, the subversion comes in the form of post-Zionist indoctrination.
While claiming to oppose religious coercion, the actual goal of the “democracy curricula” is twofold. First, it seeks to bar Jewish Israeli schoolchildren in nonreligious public schools from learning about the Bible, Jewish history, religious traditions and holidays. Second, it strives to replace Judaism with post-Zionist curricula. To the extent Judaism is taught, it is taught from a critical perspective.
Similar to Critical Race Theory curricula in the United States, which indoctrinates American schoolchildren to believe their country was born in the sin of racism and has no moral claim to justice, groups like MQG advance “democracy” as a means of gutting Israel’s Jewish character and indoctrinating Israeli children to believe that there is something inherently wrong with Jewish nationalism and national self-determination. The “democracy” programs in the schools indoctrinate children to believe that the only moral way for Israel to organize itself is as a post-Jewish “state for all its citizens.”
And the State Department is funding its efforts.
The State Department’s funding is small. In 2020-2022, it provided a total of around $40,000 to MQG. But the point of the funding is not the amount involved, but the message it sends.
Just as the State Department provides financial support for MQG’s subversion of Israel’s Jewish character, the Biden administration supports MQG’s campaign to prevent the Netanyahu government and the Knesset from passing the judicial and legal reform packages they ran on in November’s election.
During their visits to Israel last month, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed judicial reform with Netanyahu. Blinken took the unprecedented step of lecturing Netanyahu in front of television cameras about how democracy works, as if he were a tin pot despot rather than the leader of the Middle East’s only democracy, the U.S.’s most powerful ally in the region.
Hectoring Netanyahu, Blinken said, “Building consensus for new proposals is the most effective way to ensure they’re embraced and that they endure.”
Blinken’s hypocrisy left many observers dumbfounded. Since its first day in office the Biden administration has demonized its political opponents as “semi-fascists” and threats to democracy. Biden governs without regard for his political opponents, and at least in the case of his open borders policy, in contravention of federal law.
After Blinken went home, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris issued similar statements.
For his part, Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides delivered a passive-aggressive threat to the Netanyahu government over the judicial reform package. In an interview, Nides explained that “Israeli democracy” is a key component of the U.S.’s defense of Israel at the U.N. The underlying message was clear: Do anything that our client MQG considers “anti-democratic” and our ability to defend Israel will diminish.
The anti-democratic, hyperpolitical character of MQG came out strongly during the Lapid-Bennett government’s year and a half in office. Whereas MQG head Eliad Shraga and his comrades ran to the court against every initiative of the previous Netanyahu government, during the Lapid-Bennett government’s time in power, they went on an extended vacation.
When last fall, in contravention of explicit requirements of the law, then-interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed and forced through the implementation of the Biden administration-mediated maritime gas deal with Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon without Knesset approval two weeks before the election, MQG sat on its hands. The Biden administration which is now so concerned about Israeli democracy, didn’t care that a majority of Knesset members opposed the deal that Biden and Blinken compelled Lapid to sign.
In 2017, MQG led another anti-Netanyahu campaign. Many of its supporters quit in disgust after Shraga gave a speech at another well-funded rally where he called Netanyahu and his supporters “traitors” and used racist language to attack Sephardic Likud lawmakers.
As one disgruntled, just resigned member explained at the time, “When I heard the speech, I couldn’t believe Shraga was saying those things. He demonstrated with his vile statements that he is an anarchist and a racist. I listened to him again in the radio interviews he gave…[a few days later]. When I saw that he wasn’t retracting his statements but stating his claims even more forcefully, I understood that something is broken. The issue of corruption is important to me, but the movement has transformed itself into a radical leftist movement that is calling for a putsch. My place is not with them and I tore up my membership card.”
Notably, the State Department funding began two years later, when there was no longer any doubt about MQG’s subversive role in Israeli society.
In his statement on Israeli democracy, Biden said, “The genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary. Building consensus for fundamental changes is really important to ensure that the people buy into them so they can be sustained.”
Perhaps Biden is driven by jealousy. Two-thirds of Israelis support judicial and legal reform. Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration and inflation. A large majority of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy, foreign policy and crime issues. Biden could only dream of having as broad a consensus of support for his policies as Netanyahu has for his.
Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.
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