Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
Israel from the Inside with Daniel Gordis
"The ideological roots of democracy in this country don’t run deep": Ambassador Michael Oren, just hours before the Knesset passed the first judicial overhaul law[excerpt]
"The ideological roots of democracy in this country don’t run deep": Ambassador Michael Oren, just hours before the Knesset passed the first judicial overhaul law[excerpt]
As the Knesset prepared to vote on one of Israel's most historic and consequential days, Ambassador Michael Oren and I chatted about his new book, and where the Jewish state might be headed.

But before we get to Ambassador Oren, our continuing efforts to share parts of the picture that may not be represented in the mainstream English media:

Israelis woke up this morning to quite the sight at their local makolet, or corner grocery store, where newspapers are sold. You’re on your way in to buy milk or whatever, and you’re confronted by the front pages of many of the country’s papers. (There were more … I just didn’t photograph them all.)

All the front pages were black. And in what was clearly a coordinated effort (apparently launched, and I presume paid for, by the hi-tech community), they also all had precisely the same words at the bottom of the front page:

July 25 2023 A black day for Israeli democracy.

I’m no expert on the history of Israeli journalism, but I’m aware of only one other day when all the newspapers coordinated in such a way. It was the edition after Independence, in May 1948:

“The people declares the State of Israel,” the headline read in a joint publication of mosts of the papers of the time (there’s more detailed discussion of this front page in my Impossible Takes Longer).

Seventy-five years later, the papers all coordinated once again … and the message was very different.

There are obviously dozens of WhatsApp groups organized by all sorts of people. Most are in Hebrew, obviously, but there are a few for Anglos. Here’s what one posted earlier today, updating readers on the doctors’ strike currently underway in Israel:

Joining a WhatsApp group is hardly an indicator of much, but that Channel 12 made a note of reporting it gives one a sense of the mood.

And now, Ambassador Oren:

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As the Knesset was gathering, preparing for one of the most consequential votes in its history, Ambassador Michael Oren and I spoke. We discussed his new book, 2048: The Rejuvenated State, in which he raises the key questions Israeli society will have to address head on by the time the Jewish state reaches that age of 100 in 2048.

It was, of course, impossible to ignore the events unfolding even as we spoke. Ambassador Oren reflected on the positions of “both sides,” on the dangers of what is likely permanent and irreparable damage to the army, and, as you will hear, struggled out loud to find a path of optimism in what — regardless of where one stands on any of the issues — was a heartbreakingly agonizing and dark day in the history of the Jewish people.

The link above will take you to a brief excerpt of our conversation; the full conversation, along with a transcript for those who prefer to read, is being made available to paid subscribers to Israel from the Inside.

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Impossible Takes Longer is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and at other booksellers.

Music credits: Medieval poem by Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gvirol. Melody and performance by Shaked Jehuda and Eyal Gesundheit. Production by Eyal Gesundheit. To view a video of their performance, see this YouTube:

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