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‘Two Israels’: What’s really behind the judicial reform protests

(JTA) — When Benjamin Netanyahu put his controversial calls for judicial reform on pause two weeks ago, many thought the protesters in Israel and abroad might declare victory and take a break. And yet a week ago Saturday some 200,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv, and pro-democracy protests continued among Diaspora Jews and Israeli expats, including those who gather each Sunday in New York’s Washington Square Park. 

On its face, the weeks of protest have been about proposed legislation that critics said would sap power from the Israeli Supreme Court and give legislators — in this case, led by Netanyahu’s recently elected far-right coalition — unchecked and unprecedented power. Protesters said that, in the absence of an Israeli constitution establishing basic rights and norms, they were fighting for democracy. The government too says the changes are about democracy, claiming under the current system unelected judges too often overrule elected lawmakers and the will of Israel’s diverse electorate.

But the political dynamics in Israel are complex, and the proposals and the backlash are also about deeper cracks in Israeli society. Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, recently said in a podcast that the crisis in Israel represents “six linked but separate stories unfolding at the same time.” Beyond the judicial reform itself, these stories include the Palestinians and the occupation, a resurgent patriotism among the center and the left, chaos within Netanyahu’s camp, a Diaspora emboldened to weigh in on the future of Zionism and the rejection on the part of the public of a reform that failed the “reasonableness test.”

“If these protests are effective in the long run, it will be, I think, because they will have succeeded at reorganizing and mobilizing the Israeli electorate to think and behave differently than before,” said Kurtzer. 

I recently asked observers, here and in Israel, what they feel is really mobilizing the electorate, and what kind of Israel will emerge as a result of the showdown. The respondents included organizers of the protests, supporters of their aims and those skeptical of the protesters’ motivations. They discussed a slew of issues just below the surface of the protest, including the simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict, divisions over the increasing strength of Israel’s haredi Orthodox sector, and a lingering divide between Ashkenazi Jews with roots in Europe and Mizrahi Jews whose ancestry is Middle Eastern and North African.  

Conservatives, meanwhile, insist that Israeli “elites” — the highly educated, the tech sector, the military leadership, for starters — don’t respect the will of the majority who brought Netanyahu and his coalition partners to power.

Here are the emerging themes of weeks of protest:

Defending democracy

Whatever their long-term concerns about Israel’s future, the protests are being held under the banner of “democracy.” 

For Alon-Lee Green, one of the organizers of the protests, the issues are equality and fairness. “People in Israel,” said Green, national co-director of Standing Together, a grassroots movement in Israel, “hundreds of thousands of them, are going out to the streets for months now not only because of the judicial reform, but also — and mainly — because of the fundamental question of what is the society we want to live in: Will we keep living in a society that is unequal, unfair and that is moving away from our basic needs and desires, or will it be an equal society for everyone who lives in our land?”

Shany Granot-Lubaton, who has been organizing pro-democracy rallies among Israelis living in New York City, says Netanyahu, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and the coalition’s haredi Orthodox parties “are waging a war against democracy and the freedoms of citizens.”

“They seek to exert control over the Knesset and the judicial system, appoint judges in their favor and legalize corruption,” she said. “If this legal coup is allowed to proceed, minorities will be in serious danger, and democracy itself will be threatened.”

Two researchers at the Institute for Liberty and Responsibility at Herzliya’s Reichman University, psychology student Benjamin Amram and research associate Keren L.G. Snider, said Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reform “undermines the integrity of Israel’s democracy by consolidating power.” 

“How can citizens trust a government that ultimately has no limitations set upon them?” they asked in a joint email. “At a time when political trust and political representation are at the lowest points, this legislation can only create instability and call into question the intentions of the current ruling party. When one coalition holds all the power, laws and policies can be swiftly overturned, causing instability and volatility.” 

A struggle between two Israels

Other commentators said the protests revealed fractures within Israeli society that long predated the conflict over judicial reform. “The split is between those that believe Israel should be a more religious country, with less democracy, and see democracy as only a system of elections and not a set of values, and those who want Israel to remain a Jewish and democratic state,” Tzipi Livni, who served in the cabinets of right-wing prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert before tacking to the center in recent years, recently told Haaretz

Author and translator David Hazony called this “a struggle between two Israels” — one that sees Israel’s founding vision as a European-style, rights-based democracy, and the other that sees that vision as the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland. 

“Those on the first side believe that the judiciary has always been Israel’s protector of rights and therefore of democracy, against the rapaciousness and lawlessness of politicians in general and especially those on the right. Therefore an assault on its supremacy is an assault on democracy itself. They accuse the other side of being barbaric, antidemocratic and violent,” said Hazony, editor of the forthcoming anthology “Jewish Priorities.”

As for the other side, he said, they see an activist judiciary as an attempt by Ashkenazi elites to force their minority view on the majority. Supporters of the government think it is entirely unreasonable “for judges to think they can choose their successors, strike down constitutional legislation  and rule according to ‘that which is reasonable in the eyes of the enlightened community in Israel,’” said Hazony, quoting Aharon Barak, the former president of the Supreme Court of Israel and bane of Israel’s right.

(Naveh Dromi, a right-wing columnist for Yediot Achronot, puts this more bluntly: “The problem,” she writes, “lies in the fact that the left has no faith in its chance to win an election, so it relies on the high court to represent it.”)

Daniel Tauber, an attorney and Likud Central Committee member, agrees that those who voted for Netanyahu and his coalition have their own concerns about a democracy — one dominated by “elites,” which in the Israeli context means old-guard Ashkenazi Jews, powerful labor unions and highly educated secular Jews. “The more this process is subject to veto by non-democratic institutions, whether it be the Court chosen as it is, elite military units, the Histadrut [labor union], or others, the more people will lose faith in democracy,” said Tauber.  

Green also said there is “a war waging now between two elites in Israel” — the “old and more established liberal elite, who consist of the financial, high-tech army and industry people,” and the “new emerging elite of the settlers and the political far-right parties.”

Israelis protest against the government’s planned judicial overhaul, outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

And yet, he said, “I think we will lose if one of these elites wins. The real victory of this historic political moment in Israel will be if we achieve true equality, both to the people who are not represented by the Jewish supremacists, such as the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to the people who are not represented by the ‘old Israel,’ such as the haredi and Mizrahi people on the peripheries.”  

The crises behind the crisis

Although the protests were ignited by Netanyahu’s calls for judicial reform, they also represented pushback against the most right-wing government in Israeli history — which means at some level the protests were also about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of religion in Israeli society. “The unspoken motivation driving the architects and supporters of the [judicial] ‘reform,’ as well as the protest leaders, is umbilically connected to the occupation,” writes Carolina Landsmann, a Haaretz columnist. If Netanyahu has his way, she writes, “​​There will be no more two-state solution, and there will be no territorial compromises. The new diplomatic horizon will be a single state, with the Palestinians as subjects deprived of citizenship.”

Nimrod Novik, the Israel Fellow at the Israel Policy Forum, said that “once awakened, the simmering resentment of those liberal Israelis about other issues was brought to the surface.” The Palestinian issue, for example, is at an “explosive moment,” said Novik: The Palestinian Authority is weakened and ineffective, Palestinian youth lack hope for a better future, and Israeli settlers feel emboldened by supporters in the ruling coalition. “The Israeli security establishment took this all into account when warning the government to change course before it is too late,” said Novik. 

Kurtzer too noted that the Palestinians “also stand to be extremely victimized following the passage of judicial reform, both in Israel and in the West Bank.” And yet, he said, most Israelis aren’t ready to upend the current status quo between Israelis and Palestinians. “It can also be true that the Israeli public can only build the kind of coalition that it’s building right now because it is patently not a referendum on the issue of Palestinian rights,” he said. 

Religion and state

Novik spoke about another barely subterranean theme of the protests: the growing power of the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, parties. Secular Israelis especially resent that the haredim disproportionately seek exemption from military service and that non-haredi Israelis contribute some 90% of all taxes collected. One fear of those opposing the judicial reform legislation is that the religious parties will “forever secure state funding to the haredi Orthodox school system while exempting it from teaching the subjects required for ever joining the workforce. It is to secure for them an exemption from any military or other national service. And it is to expand the imposition of their lifestyle on non-Orthodox Israelis.”  

What’s next

Predictions for the future range from warnings of a civil war (by Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, among others) to an eventual compromise on Netanyahu’s part to the emergence of a new center electorate that will reject extremists on both ends of the political spectrum. 

David E. Bernstein, a law professor at the George Mason University School of Law who writes frequently about Israel, imagines a future without extremists. “One can definitely easily imagine the business, academic and legal elite using their newfound political voice to insist that future governments not align with extremists, that haredi authority over national life be limited, and, perhaps most important, that Israel create a formal constitution that protects certain basic rights,” he said. “Perhaps there will also be demand to counter such long-festering problems as corruption, disproportionate influence over export markets by a few influential families, burgeoning lawlessness in the Arab sector and a massive shortage of affordable housing.”

Elie Bennett, director of International Strategy at the Israel Democracy Institute, also sees an opportunity in the crisis. 

In the aftermath of the disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur war, he said, Israel “rebuilt its military and eventually laid the foundations for today’s ‘startup nation.’ In this current crisis, we do not need a call-up of our reserves forces, or a massive airlift of American weaponry to prevail. What we need is goodwill among fellow Israelis and a commitment to work together to strengthen our society and reach an agreed-upon constitutional framework. If we are able to achieve such an agreement, it will protect our rights, better define the relationships between the branches of government, and result in an Israel that is more stable and prosperous than ever as we celebrate 75 years of independence.”

The post ‘Two Israels’: What’s really behind the judicial reform protests appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Comparing European, American, and French Roulette at Canadian online casinos

Roulette is the most popular table game at online and land-based casinos alike. You can easily find a seat at the table, place your bets, and hope that the wheel turns in your favour. But you have surely noticed that the roulette section is quite rich, featuring at least a dozen different tables. Most of them come with a different design and different rules. The most popular roulette variants are American Roulette, European, and French Roulette. In this article, we will try to explain the main differences between each one.

French VS European Roulette

We’ll first compare the French versus the European version of roulette since they are the most similar. The layout of the bets and the wheel is basically the same. Even the table layout is pretty much the same at most online casinos. Depending on the provider some differences can be found, like the layout of the table or the order of the numbers of the wheel. But as far as the odds and gameplay are concerned, European and French Roulette are basically the same. 

Both roulette variants have a single 0 on the board and the same number of slots on the wheel and numbers on the table. There are 36 additional numbers you can bet on, along with the standard Red or Black and Odd or Even bets. This means both games come with a house edge of 2.7%. So, the only difference comes from the introduction of two basic rules in French Roulette. 

  • La Partage
  • En Prison

La Partage

This rule applies to even money bets, and in case the ball lands on the 0 slot. The term comes from the French word which means to divide. All even money bets are divided into half, and the player gets one half, while the other half goes to the house. This rule works greatly in your favour, especially if you’re playing on higher bets. 

En Prison

The En Prison bet is also applied to even money bets and only when the ball lands on 0. Instead of counting as a loss, the bets are held on the table for the following spin, and if you win, you get your bet back. Even though you don’t actually win anything extra, the En Prison rule gives you a chance to get your money back without a loss. 

The introduction of these rules lowers the house edge on French Roulette down to 1.35%. This is why many players prefer the French version, as the odds are better for the player. 

French VS American Roulette

The main and pretty much only crucial difference between American and French roulette is the 00 and the layout of the slots on the wheel. The added 00 on the American version means that the house edge is higher. It climbs up to 5.26%, which is almost double the house edge on European Roulette and a massive difference from the 1.35% on the French version. 

Since there is an added 00 number, the layout of the slots on the wheel is different. On the table, the 00 is next to the 0, so it doesn’t make a big difference to the layout of the table. But the rules in American roulette are quite simple. If your number doesn’t come up, you lose the bet. There are no extra rules like in the French version. 


If you go by the odds alone, it turns out that the best roulette variant to play at Canadian online casinos is French roulette. But this doesn’t mean you will lose more when you play American or European Roulette. Many players prefer to play the American wheel as it’s faster and more exciting. With the right strategy and some luck on your side, you can easily make a profit on any type of roulette game. 

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Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism

niversity of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram

University of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram – “Never would I have imagined that I’d need to fight for my right to exist on campus,” laments Shabbos Kestenbaum, a student at Harvard University who is suing the school because “antisemitism is out of control.”

Jewish students have suffered an unrelenting explosion of hate on American higher education campuses—so far with little relief. They have endured antisemitic rhetoric, intimidation, cancellation and violence. But those charged with keeping campuses safe—whether administrators who govern student and faculty behavior or federal agencies responsible for ensuring that schools adhere to civil rights protections—are failing in their jobs.

Many Jewish students have complained to their colleges’ administrators about the injustices. But instead of responding with measures to ensure Jewish students’ safety—like stopping pro-Hamas protestors from hijacking campuses or expelling militants who incite Jew-hatred— administrators have largely shown indifference. In some cases, college authorities have made things worse for Jewish students by appeasing the riotous, pro-Hamas mobs who have been primary perpetrators of Jew-hatred on campus.

Snubbed by college administrators, Jewish students and their supporters have appealed for federal protection, filing Title VI complaints with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the body tasked with enforcing protections under the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, the OCR, which has the power to levy severe financial punishments against colleges that neglect students’ Title VI rights, has so far rewarded negligent universities with little more than slaps on the wrist.

Until college and university boards of trustees begin hiring administrators committed to Jewish students’ safety—and until the OCR begins seriously punishing antisemitic perpetrators—we can expect no respite. Safe to say, colleges and universities run by arrogant, apathetic administrators will not change until their jobs and schools’ survival are threatened.

College/university administrators don’t take antisemitism seriously. Their reactions to Jewish students raising concerns about Jew-hatred range from indifference to outright hostility. For example, when Mohammed Al-Kurd, who the Anti-Defamation League says has a record of “unvarnished, vicious antisemitism,” came to speak at Harvard, Shabbos Kestenbaum and other Jewish students complained to administrators.

Rather than cancel Al-Kurd’s appearance, which would have been the appropriate action, the administrators ignored the students’ complaints. “Harvard’s silence was deafening,” Kestenbaum wrote in Newsweek. Kestenbaum said he “repeatedly” expressed concerns to administrators about the antisemitism he experienced, but as his lawsuit alleges, “evidence of uncontrolled discrimination and harassment fell on deaf ears.”

Administrators at Columbia University reacted to Jewish students’ complaints about antisemitism even more cynically. In fact, during an alumni event, several administrators exchanged text messages mocking Jewish students, calling them “privileged” and “difficult to listen to.”

When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania if calling for genocide against Jews violated their schools’ codes of conduct, none could say “yes.” The presidents of Harvard and UPenn have since resigned. Good riddance.

Some college/university administrators have outrageously granted concessions to pro-Hamas students. For instance, Northwestern University agreed to contact potential employers of students who caused campus disruptions to insist they be hired, create a segregated dormitory hall exclusively for Middle Eastern, North African and Muslim students, and form a new investment committee in which anti-Zionists could wield undue influence. Brown University agreed to hold a referendum on divestment from Israel in October.

Similar appeasements were announced at other colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, the University of Minnesota and the University of California Riverside.

So far, OCR has failed to take concrete action against antisemitism on campus. This is evident in recent decisions involving the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan. CUNY was ordered to conduct more investigations into Title VI complaints and report further developments to Washington, provide more employee and campus security officer training, and issue “climate surveys” to students.

The University of Michigan also committed to a “climate survey,” as well as to reviewing its case files for each report of discrimination covered by Title VI during the 2023-2024 school year and reporting to the OCR on its responses to reports of discrimination for the next two school years.

Neither institution was penalized financially, even though the Department of Education has the power to withhold federal funds, which most colleges and universities depend on. There are now 149 pending investigations into campus antisemitism at OCR. If these investigations yield toothless results similar to those of CUNY and Michigan, it is highly unlikely that colleges and universities will improve how they deal with antisemitism.

Putting an end to skyrocketing antisemitism on campus involves three things.

First, donors and governments at every level should withhold funds from colleges that fail to hire administrators who will take antisemitism as seriously as they take pronoun offenses or racism directed at people of color.

Second, the OCR must mete out serious consequences to Title VI violators in the form of funding cuts. This may require legislation that specifically mandates withdrawing funding from offending parties. A bill recently introduced by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.)—the University Accountability Act—may be ideal, as it is designed to financially penalize institutions that don’t crack down on antisemitism.

Third, if OCR won’t act, Jewish students and their supporters should turn to the courts. Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the legal director of the Deborah Project, a public-interest Jewish law firm, argues that the CUNY settlement demonstrates the futility of going to OCR and that going to court is more likely to produce “a clearly delineated and productive result,” such as punitive and compensatory fines. As of late May, at least 14 colleges and universities are facing lawsuits over their handling of antisemitism on campus since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

As long as college administrators are allowed to ignore antisemitism on campus and as long as OCR and other government institutions fall short in punishing Jew-hatred, antisemitism will continue to plague Jewish students.

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Candace Owens Claims US ‘Being Held Hostage by Israel,’ Suggests Zionists Killed JFK

Candace Owens speaks at CPAC on March 2, 2023. Photo: Lev Radin via Reuters Connect

Political commentator Candace Owens claimed on Friday that the US is being held “hostage” by Israel and suggested that AIPAC, the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US, was behind the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy.
“It seems like our country is being held hostage by Israel,” Owens, a right-wing provocateur, said during the opening segment of her YouTube show, where she interviewed far-left commentator Briahna Joy Gray.
“I’m going to get in so much trouble for that. I don’t care,” Owens lamented.
Gray, who was the guest for this episode, was recently fired from The Hill‘s TV show, Rising, after aggressively cutting off and rolling her eyes at the sister of an Israeli hostage who said that Hamas sexually assaulted women during the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and that people should believe those women. Gray, who claimed her firing was politically motivated, had repeatedly cast doubt on the sexual violence perpetrated against Israeli women during the Hamas-led onslaught.
However, Owens said that part of the reasons she was addressing the subject was that people were being fired because they were “not happy … when an innocent Palestinian kid dies” or for “critiquing a foreign nation.”
Also on Friday’s show, Owens claimed US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was “wading into some dangerous waters” when, during an interview with host Tucker Carlson, he spoke about how effective the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is at lobbying members of Congress and suggested the group should have to register as a foreign agent that is acting on behalf of Israel.
The reason it was dangerous, Owens said, was because “we know there was once a president that wanted to make AIPAC register, and he ended up shot … so Thomas Massie better be careful.”
Owens was referencing the fact that Kennedy wanted the American Zionist Council, a lobby group, to register as a foreign agent. However, there is no evidence the group had anything to do with Kennedy’s assassination.
Owens and The Daily Wire, which was co-founded by conservative and Jewish political commentator Ben Shapiro, parted ways after Owens flirted with antisemitic conspiracy theories for a number of months, especially following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
“In all communities there are gangs. In the black community we’ve got the Bloods, we’ve got the Crips. Well, imagine if the Bloods and the Crips were doing horrific things, murdering people, controlling people with blackmail, and then every time a person spoke out about it, the Bloods and the Crips would call those people racist,” Owens said while still at The Daily Wire. “What if that is what is happening right now in Hollywood if there is just a very small ring of specific people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from any criticism. It’s food for thought, right? … this appears to be something that is quite sinister.”
Additionally, after getting into a spat with an outspoken and controversial rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, she said, “Are you going to kill me? Are you going to kill me, because I refuse to kowtow to you, and I think it’s weird that you and your daughter are promoting and selling sex toys, that’s why I deem you an ‘unholy rabbi?’”
“You gross me out. You disgust me. I am a better person than you, and I do not fear you,” Owens continued.
The list of controversial incidents involving Owens continued to grow longer with time. In one case, she “liked” an X/Twitter post that promoted the antisemitic “blood libel.” The post read, in response to Boteach, “Rabbi, are you drunk on Christian blood again?”
The “blood libel” is a medieval anti-Jewish slur which falsely claims that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children in their religious rituals.

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