From the Rabbi - Historic mass demonstrations in Israel

As momentous events unfold in Israel, I'll continue providing you with materials from a range of sources. I hope you'll consider subscribing to some of these excellent news outlets and organizations. It's critical that American Jews stay informed, discuss these issues with one another, and make our views known to leaders of our community institutions and our elected officials. The primary focus of the mass demonstrations is the Netanyahu government efforts to make drastic changes to the Israeli court system that would undermine the authority of their Supreme Court.

I'll summarize a complex politcal situation this way: Israelis with progressive or moderate views protest that these changes to the court would constitute a threat to democracy by removing checks and balances against government corruption and extremism, while those with conservative or strictly religious views feel the liberal judiciary doesn't represent them when it supports the rights of LGBT citizens, non-orthodox religious groups or Palestinaians. This is a painful portrait of a sharply divided populace. It's important to understand that this movement to undermine the courts is happening in part due to the long-delayed but ongoing trial of Prime Minister Netanyahu on corruption charges. The proposed changes to the judicial system would most likely result in charges being dropped or repeal of the anti-coruption laws under which Mr. Netanyahu was indicted: Another pertinent detail is that the high court recently drew the ire of right wing parties by disqulifying a Knesset member from a ministerial post (similar to a US cabinet position) due to his extensive criminal convictions: disqualification of Shas chairman Arye Deri.  

How the judicial crisis is linked to the surge in violence:
A helpful overview of the judicial issue:

New York Times reports 100,000 at demonstration at the Knesset in Jerusalem. (Organizers estimated 300,000):

A mass strike took place on Monday:

Stirring words from the Israeli President Issac Herzog:

Polling on the political divide in Israel:

The government's recent move to legalize formerly illegal radical settler outposts (built without permits in the West Bank) and also to approve 10,000 new settler housing units in the West Bank:

Illegal extremist outposts and settlement expansion:

An informative and inspiring webinar with rally organizers in Israel and here in California:

An excellent webinar with Jewish American leaders on "The Role of Pro-Israel Progressives in this Moment."

Details of the judiciary issues:

An in-depth portrait of the extremist who now serves as minister of national security, "with an expanded portfolio that gives him unprecedented control over Israeli police, a flash-point Jerusalem holy site and security forces that operate in the occupied West Bank":

A powerful d'var Torah, "The Tears of Zion," by the brilliant Rabbi Sharon Brous in Los Angeles. "Israel is barreling toward an unrecognizable future."

What can you do to help? Consider signing up for updates from a new grassroots organization launched by Israelis living in the U.S.:

B'shalom ~ In peace,
Rabbi Naomi