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"I've erased everything I said, everything I thought"

Ten days ago, Israel was on the cusp of civil war. Today it is more united than it has been in decades. We look at a few key voices who are calling for a new era in Israeli social and political life.

Keep daylight savings time for now?

What doesn’t get affected by war? Almost nothing, actually. The following headline just went up:

YNet screenshot (Oct 16 2023)

“Will the end of daylight savings time be delayed? Shas [a Haredi party] objects, Barkat [former major of Jerusalem, now an MK] is in favor: ‘It will help the national mood.’”

In other words, there’s enough darkness all around. People don’t need it to start getting dark at 4:30 pm … let’s make the days as light-filled as we can.”

No news yet on whether we’re changing the clocks.

AND the Knesset just this minute voted to delay the country’s Municipal Elections. I imagine that about that, there was no disagreement.

Speaking of the national mood. ….

Today, we’re looking at a dimension of Israeli life that is all over the news and social media here in Israel, but not so much in the English press. The number of people who are right-ish, right, or even far right who have gone out of their way to embrace the left with whom they were recently in vicious, toxic disagreement not long ago, is astounding.

Today, we’ll look at three examples:

  • A post by Ben Caspit, who defines himself as “right-ish” (though many would question that description), in which he is effusive in his praise of the “Brothers in Arms” group that was, of course, one of the mainstays of the protest moment.

  • We’ll see a column from Makor Rishon this past Friday. Makor Rishon is Israel’s intellectual, right-leaning and religious newspaper. Emunah Elon writes for Makor Rishon regularly. An accomplished novelist and award-winning feminist activist, she was once a writer for Yediot Ahronot, Israeli’s widest selling daily newspaper. But she left the paper when it endorsed the Disengagement from Gaza in 2005, and over her objections to its characterizations of settlers. Later, she began writing regularly for Yisrael Hayom, the distinctly pro-Bibi newspaper established by Sheldon Adelson. (We’ve produced a quick translation of her column from Friday below.)

  • Finally, what I thought was an astounding moment in the Channel 14 studio (Channel 14 is Israel’s rough equivalent of Fox News, though the two are not entirely parallel). In the clip, Shai Goldin, a well known writer and journalist, hard-right in no uncertain terms, has an unbelievable encounter with a guest on the show, whom he then throws out of the studio. And Goldin then goes fairly nuclear in explaining why he did it. To me, it’s incredible. It’s a new Israel, is all one can say—is all one can hope.

Ben Caspit on the “Brothers in Arms”

We’ll just translate the tweet. It requires no commentary.

So, the operation that “Brothers in Arms” created is an insane event. They have for all intents and purposes become the Home Front Command. They are the ones who are checking the shipments of ceramic vests [essentially flack jackets] that are now streaming to Israel. They do ballistic tests on them, check that they’re up to standards (yes, they actually shoot at samples of each shipment that arrives), then they sew them, re-pack them, and pass them onto the IDF. It’s insane.

Israelis are facing an unfolding horror. If you would like to share our conversation about what they are feeling and what is happening that the English press can’t cover, please subscribe today.

Emuna Elon in Makor Rishon: “For We Are All Guilty”

In a different world— the world that we lived in until last week— the most pressing question was whether or not there would be separation by gender on Simchat Torah in Dizengoff Square. 

The most critical project was to press forward with passing the “judicial reform” legislation, no matter what, and at the same time the most critical project was to stop the “governmental coup” no matter what….

[From every direction] Israelis silenced each other, trod all over each other’s values and feelings, and did all they could ruin each other’s lives.

In the language of that other world, we were used to calling the towns (yishuvim) of the Western Negev the “Gaza envelope.” Many of us believed that Israel could “disengage” from the ticking time bomb that we called the “Gaza Strip” and just surround it with towns. Many thought that Hamas should be supported while calling Israeli Arab citizens “supporters of terror” whose membership in the coalition [Lapid-Bennett 2022] was the mother of all sins. 

In that other world, poison rained in every direction, and we were all severely injured. Deeply committed Israelis—from different sections of the country and society—were accused of bribery, being privileged, being deserters, being treasonous, endangering democracy or harming peace. Many people were afraid to express their political views near their friends, and at times even in front of their family. 

In that other world, there were people who thought they were right, intelligence agencies that thought that they knew and security units who thought they were protecting, and there were a Prime Minister and cabinet ministers who thought that they were leading.

But in the world of now, our eyes flow with tears of sadness, but also of pride; and behind those tears that other world is becoming blurred, is starting to fade, to wash away. Everything that it contained is no longer important and everything that preoccupied us there no longer matters. 

But it’s important that we remember that that other world once was. There’s no point in hunting for the guilty—in one way or another we are all guilty. Only if we remember that other world will we succeed in being careful and vigilant about not returning to it after the war. Only a clear marking of its place will enable us to avoid returning to it ever again, even by accident. 

In that other world— just a week ago— we stood at the cusp of a civil war. We saw a general in the IDF, with a heroic combat background, declare that he was going to suggest to his grandson not to enlist for combat. We saw Jews harassing other Jews wrapped in their tallit on Yom Kippur. And we saw sixty-four representatives of the public [i.e., the members of the present coalition] who behaved as if there was no one other than them and as if the state treasury belonged only to them; they, and they only owned Zionism, Judaism, truth on earth.

In the world of today, intelligence agencies understand that they did not know and the security units understand that their defense was insufficient. Finally, at long last, we have an emergency government. Signs of political leadership are starting to appear and not only from the direction of the President of the United States.

Let us hope that we do not forget how close that other world still is. Let us pray that we never return to it.

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We’ll get to the Channel 14 clip (which went viral in Israeli social media) in a second. In the meantime, for those who have been asking for addtion recommendations for reading:

A “must listen” — and I’ve heard many people say that about this. (If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll recall that we’ve had Micha Goodman on our podcast here and here.)

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