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Terror in Jerusalem, PLO flags in Tel Aviv

Protesters bemoaning a concocted danger—the so-called “death of Israeli democracy” at the hands of the Netanyahu-led government—made a mockery of the actual mass murder of innocents.

Anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv waving Palestinian flags. Jan. 28, 2023. Source: Twitter/Moti Kastel.
Anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv waving Palestinian flags. Jan. 28, 2023. Source: Twitter/Moti Kastel.
Ruthie Blum. Photo by Ariel Jerozolomski.
Ruthie Blum
Ruthie Blum, former adviser at the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is an award-winning columnist and senior contributing editor at JNS, as well as co-host, with Amb. Mark Regev, of "Israel Undiplomatic" on JNS-TV. She writes and lectures on Israeli politics and culture, and on U.S.-Israel relations. Originally from New York City, she moved to Israel in 1977 and is based in Tel Aviv.

Neither the terrorist slaughter of seven Jewish worshipers and the wounding of three others in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood, nor the near-fatal shooting the following morning of a father and son at the entrance to the City of David National Park in the Israeli capital, prevented the anti-government protests from proceeding as scheduled.

Lest they lose an inch of their self-claimed moral high ground, however, those who came out in disputed numbers for the fourth Saturday night in a row—ostensibly to decry Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s plans to overhaul the judiciary—kicked off their demonstrations with a moment of silence for the victims.

Given the personal and national tragedy of the previous 24 hours, the gesture was warranted. Still, nixing the rallies would have been far more appropriate under the circumstances.

Organizers reportedly considered this option, but decided against it. That the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee was set on Sunday to step up discussions on judicial-reform legislation tipped the scales in favor of virtue signaling in town squares.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the business-as-usual spectacle that followed the 60-second acknowledgement of the occasion was abhorrent. Participants prancing around bemoaning a concocted danger—the so-called “death of Israeli democracy” at the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition—made a mockery of the actual mass murder of innocents.

These were 14-year-old Asher Natan, married couple 48-year-old Eli and 45-year-old Natalie Mizrahi, who were gunned down while attempting to administer aid to the wounded; Raphael Ben-Eliyahu, 56; Shaul Hai, 68; 26-year-old Ilya Sosansky; and Ukrainian national Irina Korolova.

The disrespect shown to the shattered families of the slain and injured didn’t end there; among the sentiments voiced at the intersectional happenings was empathy for Palestinian terrorists.

Channel 14 correspondent Moti Kastel asked a group of “judicial reform” opponents in Tel Aviv whether they weren’t “ashamed” to be waving PLO flags, particularly on such an evening, in the immediate aftermath of the murder of Jews.

“Not at all,” one answered. “I’m proud of it. We [Israelis] murder in return.”

Another replied by pointing to the “murder” of nine Palestinians in Jenin. It was an interesting way to describe the elimination on Thursday of Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists plotting a major, imminent attack on Israelis.

A third blamed—who else?—supporters of the new ruling coalition for the fatalities. He suggested that the right “tell the dead: ‘We chose for you to die. We didn’t want to compromise, so that’s why we’re burying you.’”

Alqam Khayri, the 21-year-old terrorist who opened fire on men, women and children outside the Ateret Avraham synagogue on the eve of Shabbat, and was killed by police before continuing his massacre, couldn’t have put it better himself. Like his Jewish in-crowd apologists, the Israeli-I.D.-carrying resident of a-Tur in eastern Jerusalem was aligned with Palestinians bent on the country’s destruction.

Unlike them, though, he didn’t distinguish between one Israeli government and another. He certainly wouldn’t have cared about the issue that’s supposedly at the root of the rallies: preserving the power of appointed judges at the expense of the elected legislature.

His evil deed, as the response to it on the part of the protest movement, should and does shed light on the outcome of the November 1 Knesset elections.

Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”

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