columnIsrael at War

The Biden administration’s war against the government of Israel

Before Oct. 7, rioters demanded the overthrow of Netanyahu’s coalition due to its “anti-democratic” policies and “corruption.” The new rallying cry is to free the hostages.

Tents set up by Israeli protesters outside of the Knesset in Jerusalem, demanding action by the government to bring home the hostages still being held captive by Hamas in Gaza, April 1, 2024. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.
Tents set up by Israeli protesters outside of the Knesset in Jerusalem, demanding action by the government to bring home the hostages still being held captive by Hamas in Gaza, April 1, 2024. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.
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.

The war rages in the Gaza Strip, northern Israel, Lebanon, Eilat and on the streets of Israel’s cities as Iran’s Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni proxies maintain and escalate their operations against the Jewish state. Unmoved by this state of affairs, Israel’s far left is reinstating the anti-government riots that occurred regularly through the first three-quarters of 2023.

The newest round of leftist political violence began officially on Saturday night in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the first of what has been billed as four days of protests. As was the case in the anti-government protests before Hamas’s invasion of and one-day holocaust in southern Israel on Oct. 7, in the current round, demonstrations are followed by riots in which a few dozen participate.

As before, riots feature bonfires along major traffic arteries, assaults on police and ultra-Orthodox Jews, threats to murder Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and storming police barricades protecting the premier’s home.

They also involve massive exaggerations of the number of protesters. On Sunday night in Jerusalem, for instance, organizers proclaimed the participation of 100,000 protesters. But aerial photographs of the event indicate that at most, a tenth of that number showed up.

Before Oct. 7, rioters demanded the overthrow of the government due to its “anti-democratic” policies or its “corruption.” The new rallying cry is to free the hostages.

On Saturday night, relatives of 10 of the 134 hostages declared, “To return our loved ones, we have decided to work in the service of Hamas. We are demanding that the Israeli government accept the organization’s demands immediately. If not—we will burn the country down.”

Obviously, if the families get their way, Hamas will demand that Israel cease to exist in exchange for the hostages. Given that their demand causes harm to their loved ones, why are the organizers putting them up to this?

To be sure, there are a number of reasons this is happening. But perhaps the main one was revealed on March 17 by riot leader Ami Dror in a WhatsApp group chat with his colleagues. The communication, which Dror authenticated in an interview with Channel 14, was first reported on X by a poster who operates under the handle, Arbelu the Tuna Hunter.

In that communication, Dror told his colleagues that the White House was asking them to reinstate the riots.

Based on what he referred to as a conversation with his contacts in the White House, Dror set out in granular detail the White House’s four-part plan to overthrow the government. The components involved actions on the ground in Gaza; the use of the U.N. Security Council; extortion of government ministers; and mass protests.

Dror called his report: “An important update from the American administration.”

He explained that his update followed an earlier text he sent out on March 6 on the same topic. “The American plan, as I published it on March 6 remains unchanged. The day after my publication, the Biden administration announced the establishment of an American port [in Gaza] that will seize from Israel the ability to rule the Strip—the port will be used initially to provide food, but the central purpose of the port is to rebuild Gaza.”

The purpose of the U.S. campaign for humanitarian aid, he explained, was twofold: undermining the control of the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza and blackmailing government ministers.

In his words, “Government ministers are receiving messages from ‘American friends’ that they will be accused of war crimes. Under our radar, the U.S. and the E.U. have framed the hunger in northern Gaza as a war crime. This is an excuse for seizing control over the territory from Israel (parachuting food continuously, including by the German military, and building a port), but the words “potential indictment” for all members of the government of destruction is the clincher. How does it work? There are many members of the government that don’t want to lose their physical or economic freedom. The immediate targets are [billionaire Economy Minister Nir] Barkat (by freezing assets and turning the millionaire into a wanted man) [and] the Haredi parties … they and their communities worldwide have many properties. … Ministers in the government will become potential fugitives if they don’t enable the formation of a government without Kahanists. … Don’t be surprised if [Shas party leader Aryeh] Deri and [Agudat Israel head Minister Yitzhak] Goldknopf bring down the government soon. The Hareidi draft is just an excuse—their Hareidi cronies in America don’t want to get in trouble with Uncle Sam.”

As for the United Nations, 10 days before the administration abstained from the vote for a Chinese- and Russian-sponsored resolution for an immediate ceasefire not conditioned on the release of the hostages, Dror wrote, “The United States intends to pass a resolution in the UN Security Council that calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza. The draft resolution was already published and it is being used as a means to pressure the government to prevent it from undermining a hostage deal [on Hamas’s terms]. If Netanyahu agrees to the deal [which will effectively involve strategic defeat in war], [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben Gvir will have to leave the government, (if he doesn’t he will lose most of his supporters). In this case, the government ‘will survive’ and be dependent on [Benny] Gantz and [Gideon] Saar and it will be easy to expand the government to include [Yair] Lapid and [Avigdor] Lieberman, [and so transform it into a government controlled by the political left]. This is the administration’s preferred option. If Netanyahu rejects the hostage deal in the next ten days—the Security Council will approve the U.S. draft, (or even worse—a different draft that the U.S. will not veto) [requiring] Israel to accept a ceasefire. (And practically speaking, ending the war will bring about the government’s overthrow.)”

Dror moved to the role of domestic political actors in achieving the White House’s plan. Initially, he wrote, the administration believed that Benny Gantz, National Resilience Party leader and Netanyahu’s chief political rival, would bring the government down for it. But he has lost their confidence.

“Gantz,” he wrote, “was summoned to the United States for a reprimand. He was humiliated. The Americans said hair-raising things to him. At the start of the war, the Americans demanded that he join the government. He was their man. The man that would ensure that Netanyahu and Ben Gvir didn’t set the world on fire. He came in and blocked the war in Lebanon, and promised that he was going in for six weeks and then he and the protest groups would take the government apart. After six weeks, he and Deri promised that by January 1 they would deliver the goods and in practice, the final deadline the Americans gave him was Ramadan. When he didn’t deliver for the U.S., the administration understood that they can’t trust Gantz. Maybe he’ll be a comfortable prime minister in the future. But the Americans seized full control over management of the war [against Netanyahu].”

‘We are sick of the threats from extremists’

Now that Gantz is out of the game, Dror said that the administration is moving the center of gravity to Dror and his fellow riot chiefs.

“And the most important thing? Us, and President Biden’s request from us: The American method of dealing with misbehaving states, includes the destruction (economic and legal) that is centered on the leadership on the one hand, and driving a wedge between “the nation,” and “the leadership.” In our case … for this to work—the nation of Israel must show (in the streets!) that it is fighting the leadership. … The American administration needs to see the nation in Israel fighting the government of Israel.”

The new slogan of the protests, he said, must be the hostages. “The most urgent task is the return of the hostages, and the way to return the hostages is by replacing the government=setting a date for elections now.”

Last week, in a Zoom meeting with progressive American Jews, reported by Channel 14, Dror heralded a loss of Israeli sovereignty to the White House. He said that he prefers to be an American colony than to have the Israeli right in power.

So far, the new protests have done more to turn the public against Dror and his comrades than against the government. Moments after the demonstration began in Tel Aviv, statements went out from hostages’ families that the relatives calling for protesters to “burn down the country” do not represent them. The media, which had tried to present the families of 10 out of 134 hostages as “the hostages’ families,” were forced to acknowledge that they represented a tiny fraction of the families.

Bereaved parents of soldiers also began to speak out in short order, to great effect. One of the prominent statements came from Hagai Luver, whose son Yonatan Luver was killed in battle in Gaza in late December.

Luver wrote, “No one is going to burn down my country. We are sick of the threats from extremists. Yes, even when the extremists have relatives in Gaza. You will not burn the country. This will not happen. And if fighting you is required, I will fight you. Millions of people are looking at you in disbelief … and only because of your suffering, they are silent. But I will not be silent. My son was killed in Gaza. He went to defend and rescue your children, and was killed. He left everything. He left a pregnant wife and a 9-month baby boy, and was killed. He will never come back. No agreement will bring him back. And so I have a right to tell you this: You may not tear apart the country.”

Dror’s boasts of close ties to the White House may or may not be empty. But what is clear enough is that the people of Israel—while deeply sympathetic to the fate of the hostages—will not be taken for a ride and will not allow the State of Israel to be driven into political chaos. The riot leaders and the administration may well believe that the enemy is the Israeli government. But the Israeli public isn’t buying it. On Oct. 7, the people’s eyes were opened, and they will not be closing any time soon. Israel is waging war and will continue to wage the war against its actual enemies—Hamas, Hezbollah and their puppet master Iran—until victory.

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