(JTA) — The ninth week of protests in Israel brought hundreds of thousands of opponents to judicial reform into the streets on Saturday night, but within hours Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition advanced the legislation through the Knesset.
Protests against the reforms extended to areas of Israel’s establishment where political protest was once unthinkable, including among combat pilots and staff for the national airline, El Al.
The government is opening bids for other airlines to fly Netanyahu and his wife to Rome later this week after too few El Al employees signed up to work the trip. The airline denied that the worker shortage reflected a protest against the prime minister, who is scheduled to meet with Italy’s new right-wing leader, Giorgia Meloni.
But others are making clear that their refusal to show up to work represents a protest against Israel’s right-wing government, which is seeking to sap the judiciary of its power.
Thirty-seven of 40 combat pilots in the military reserves said they would skip the first day of a required week of training to “devote our time to discourse and thinking for the sake of democracy and the unity of the people, and therefore we will not report to reserve duty on this day, with the exception of operational activity,” according to a translation of the letter published by the Times of Israel. They would turn up as required for the rest of the week, they said.
Reserves pilots train multiple times a year, a regimen that is seen as critical to their effectiveness. Individual soldiers have refused to serve in the past, at times earning jail sentences, but a mass action by one of the most elite units is unheard of. The squadron in this case was responsible for destroying a nascent nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007.
The combat pilots joined a growing protest movement against legislation that would allow a simple majority of 61 Knesset members to overrule the Supreme Court and constrain the court in other ways. The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Sunday advanced the legislation, which has already passed the full Knesset on a first of the three required votes to become law, making only limited changes.
The opposition sees the reforms as gutting the independence of the judiciary, which has been a bulwark against the erosion of the rights of women, non-Orthodox Jews, and minorities including Arab and LGBTQ Israelis.
Netanyahu has said he is ready to negotiate on the judicial reforms, but the opposition wants him to first stop the legislative process; coalition lawmakers have said they want to pass the laws by Passover, at the beginning of April.
Organizers said 400,000 people turned out for the ninth weekly Saturday night protest, over 150,000 in Tel Aviv alone.
In his remarks opening his weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said he understood “that many of the protesters are loyal citizens most of whom don’t understand the details of the reform at all.”
The protests had been peaceful until Thursday, when mounted police used water cannons against crowds in Tel Aviv gathered for a “Day of Disruption.” Another “Day of Disruption” is planned for this week.
How far that disruption extends within the armed forces remains to be seen. Opposition leaders urged reservists to show up as required. Benny Gantz, who leads the Blue and White party and who was the defense minister until December, called on reservists and regular troops “not to give in to refusal to serve, although you are in pain.”
In a letter leaked Friday, Tomer Bar, the general who commands the Air Force, appeals to reservists not to miss call-ups, while saying, “I am aware of and sensitive to the difficulties and challenges we are all facing these days.”
Netanyahu on Sunday tweeted a photograph of himself when he was young and serving in a commando unit. “When we are called to reserves, we always turn up,” he said.
Among the dozens of appeals to Netanyahu to stop the reforms a standout was from 10 of the troops who joined his older brother, Yonatan, in rescuing hostages held on a plane in Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976. Yonatan was killed during the raid, which is seen as emblematic of Israel’s refusal to deal with terrorists and willingness to go to extreme lengths to rescue Jews in peril. Benjamin Netanyahu has since made his brother his lodestar.
The 10 veterans were especially offended by Netanyahu’s likening of the protesters — whom they have joined — to the settlers who rampaged through a West Bank village last week, burning houses and cars and injured dozens.
“We did the impossible with our brothers in arms,” said the letter, posted Saturday on social media. “And you and your cohort are doing everything you can to undermine motivation and to crack up Israeli society.”
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Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN
Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.
Bill Maher tells it like it is when it comes to what “the river to the sea” really means
Bill Maher cuts to the chase like no one else. Here’s a link to a segment from the most recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” where he exposes the total hypocrisy of the “useful idiots” everywhere chanting “from the river to the sea”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP-CRXROorw
Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25
The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.
A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.
Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg
Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed
Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs