Professors Condemn Anti-Reform ‘Revolutionaries’ for Rending Israel’s Social Fabric

Meanwhile, more violence as anti-reform activists attack employees at right-wing think tank behind the judicial overhaul.

By JNS | | Topics: Judicial Reform
Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv against the government's judicial reform plans grapple with police, March 4, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv against the government's judicial reform plans grapple with police, March 4, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

Professors for a Strong Israel issued an open letter on March 29 denouncing the protests against the government’s judicial reform program, saying democracy wasn’t saved but “trampled.”

The protesters’ victory was a Pyrrhic one in which the whole country lost, the group said.

“The government capitulated and halted the legislation opposed by a minority. Now the coalition and opposition have convened to try and hammer out an agreement. They may succeed, or they may not. However, the fabric of Israeli society has already been tremendously damaged,” the letter states.

Israel’s social compact, by which conflicts are “resolved in parliament by compromises and coalitions,” has been broken, according to the group. “A minority rose and broke all the rules,” declaring that “it is glimpsing a slippery slope that may one day lead to a dictatorship that destroys the basis of our existence, and therefore all is permissible.”

The letter was signed by professor Amihood Amir of the Computer Science Department of Bar-Ilan University, who serves as chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel. The group’s aim is to promote the security and Jewish character of the state.

“Employees, students and faculty members feel threatened and are afraid of voicing their opinions, and there is an overall feeling akin to that in the old USSR,” wrote Amir.

“Co-workers who for years collaborated in harmony, because they did not introduce politics into their relations, are now compelled to take a stand—are you with us or with the enemy?” the letter states.

“When one side prohibits the other from working, for a political reason that the coerced party does not identify with, it invariably mars the work relationship. In some cases employees who support the reform were forced by their employer to express satisfaction that their ideology had been trampled. … The feelings of frustration then evolve into feelings of hate. This rift will not be easily mended.”

The group also referred to the refusal of reservists to serve, describing it as “a military revolt—when pilots and reservists refuse to report to duty. … Soldiers are dictating to the government who the ministers should be.”

The “revolution” of the anti-reform activists is in no way justified, the group said, noting that the “philosophers of modern democracy” identified only a few, extreme cases where revolution was “the only available option,” involving life, liberty or property.

“Life, meaning that a majority has no right to massacre a minority. Liberty, whereby a majority cannot inter a minority in prisons and camps, and property; the majority can not confiscate the property of the minority. The only time in the history of Israel when we came close to violating one of these rights was when 10,000 people were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif [in 2005]. Even then, the minority tearfully accepted the majority’s decision,” the letter continues.

“The situation today is nowhere near that. There is no threat to the life or property of any minority. Nor is anyone under threat of incarceration. The only existing threat is in the minds of some people who frightened themselves with the thoughts that, perhaps, the end of democracy is around the corner.”

“The problem with acting upon self-induced fears is that they are not quantifiable,” the letter continues. “This unchecked and unquantified behavior leads to anarchy, erosion of democracy and the destruction of the state. The surrounding Arab countries have already recognized this process and are calling it ‘the Jewish Spring,’ expecting the results of Rabin Square to equal those of [Egypt’s] Tahrir Square.”

Amir concludes with a plea to the protesters:

“I entreat the revolutionaries to come to their senses. It is indeed a joy to burn tires, and it is exhilarating to feel that one is a revolutionary, but for the sake of democracy, for the sake of the nation and for the sake of our country, please desist. Return to the path of parliamentary democracy, for this is the only viable way for a shared existence in a society like ours.”

The entrance to the Kohelet Policy Forum offices in Jerusalem that was blocked by opponents of the Israeli government’s planned judicial overhaul, March 9, 2023. Photo by Flash90.

Six arrested for assaulting Kohelet staff in Jerusalem

Six women were arrested on Sunday after entering the Jerusalem offices of the Kohelet Policy Forum, and verbally and physically assaulting employees.

The six trespassers were from the “Wall Breakers” organization affiliated with the mass demonstrations that have aggressively opposed the government’s efforts to remake the legal branch.

According to reports, they threatened workers at the conservative think tank that is considered the brains behind the legislative proposals being pushed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition in the Knesset. Police were called, and the six women were taken in for questioning at the Moriah police station.

One of the Kohelet employees wrote on her Twitter account that “a woman attacked me today at my workplace. She cursed and shouted and ran towards me quickly and tried to hit me. Another called my friend a ‘violent Ashkenazi’ because my friend refused to be humiliated next to her. This must not happen in a democracy. This must not happen, not happen at all. The incitement against the Kohelet Forum is dangerous—don’t ignore it, the writing is on the wall here.”

“Today, incited protesters broke into the offices of the Kohelet Forum and attacked its employees. For many minutes, they went on a rampage inside the offices, pushing and attacking the employees,” the public policy think tank said in a statement.

The organization said that it was filing a complaint with the police.

Last month, hundreds of Israeli army reservists protested outside the Kohelet offices. The Kohelet protest was put on by the Brothers in Arms reservist group.

Seven people were arrested at the Kohelet protest for attempting to block the entrance to the building. Video from the scene showed piles of cement bags and wire coil fencing along with protest signs at the front door.


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