Welcome! Willkommen! !أهلاً وسهلاً! ברוכים הבאים

Welcome to the Website of the  FES Israel Office.


Contact Us

Israel Office

Tuval 40, Sapir Tower
Ramat Gan 5252247

+972 (0) 9 9514760
+972 (0) 9 9514764

General requests:

Meet the team

About us

What's New at FES Israel?


Schlaglicht Number 20/20, Latest News from the Israeli Press, November 16-30, 2020

"Schlaglicht Israel" offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.

Download the latest Publication of “Schlaglicht Israel”!

Main topics covered in this Publication:

  1. Pact of Pragmatists: Netanyahu and Mansour Abbas
  2. Defence Minister Gantz Orders Investigation Into Submarine Affair
  3. Iranian Nuclear Researcher Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Murdered
  4. Selection of Articles

1. Pact of Pragmatists: Netanyahu and Mansour Abbas

Jewish MKs must support Arab colleagues’ outreach

In recent years, there has been a widespread tendency in Israeli politics to label any discussion, as meritorious as it may be, according through a lens of “Yes to Bibi” or “No to Bibi.” This appears also to be the fate of the growing coordination between the ruling Likud and Ra’am, the political party led by MK Mansour Abbas that represents the southern faction of the Islamic Movement and is part of the Joint List coalition of predominantly Arab parties. (…) Abbas is taking unprecedented moves in the framework of Arab politics, focusing on broad cooperation with the ruling party in order to solve the acute fundamental problems of Arab society, most notably crime and violence.

Overshadowing his efforts are critiques from elements of the Joint List, and also from Jewish politicians who have presented him as another “Bibi lacky,” being used by the prime minister to weaken his political faction without any real intention of solving the problems of the people he represents. The truth is that Abbas’ actions reflect a much deeper and principled discussion about the path of Arab politics, which seems to have reached a dead end. Abbas himself makes it clear that (…) he is willing to break conventions to promote a response to the plight of Arab Israelis, even if it means cooperating with a government that dismisses the Joint List and the community it represents. Abbas is not alone in this (…). He has broken out of the pattern of identity politics, which automatically puts all Arabs on the same side of the political map and in the pockets of the leftist camp. The lawmaker has become a relevant and influential actor, characteristics that are in part foreign to Arab politics. (…) the Islamic Movement, with its inherent pragmatism and adaptability (…) has demonstrated a far-reaching capacity for change and ideological flexibility. The ball is currently in the court of Jewish politics and society. Now the Jewish side must also show an ability to change, and especially its willingness to open the gates of the major parties and coalitions to those who approach from the heart of Arab society.

Michael Milshtein, YED, 16.11.20

Netanyahu is not the man teach us morals

Never in the entire history of the universe was there a more cynical and hypocritical person than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The man who ingrained into the political system (…) the notion that under no circumstance should you do business with the predominately Arab Joint List party. The man who led considerable sections of the Zionist left not daring to accept the support of the Joint List, not even in a single vote. But little by little, it turns out that the “unbelievable” is also the most anticipated thing in the world: Netanyahu himself is doing business with the party’s Islamic faction. (…) if you were wondering why were fines for illegal construction of residential homes were suddenly frozen, pay attention to the astounding fact that every single Joint List lawmaker want this law repealed. (…) Netanyahu cares only about Netanyahu, and every moral or political stance is just a tool in his hands. (…) One day you have to be careful because the sword is on our necks and the Arabs are flocking to the polls, but after a few days, in a blink of an eye, he will use them to serve his interests. The rumors about where the deal between Netanyahu and the Ra’am faction is heading to will make your hair stand on end. (…) they include lowering the electoral threshold with Ra’am breaking off from the Joint List and running independently. Netanyahu will then use the party’s votes to pass a law to stop his corruption trial. (…) Netanyahu will continue lecturing us on what is legitimate and what is not. (…)

Amichai Attali, YED, 20.11.20

Arab Israelis are joining the new Middle East

(…) We can assume Abbas will be expelled from the Islamic Movement in Israel, which has no room for compromise and flexibility. The movement that was created by (…) adherents of the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine, is no longer right for him. (…) MK Mansour Abbas, the deputy speaker of the Knesset, made a difficult decision stating the Islamic Movement can act as a moderate and conciliatory body that highlights the good values in Islam. (…) He calls for rapprochement between Jews and Arabs and for the Joint Arab List to empower women in political life. This is assuredly not the platform of the Islamic Movement, which is part of the Joint List. (…) Abbas, before the last election, called for the establishment of an obstructionist bloc against Netanyahu (…) the views expressed by Abbas are akin to a sharp dagger in the heart of the anti-Israeli public relations machine that has been built and cultivated over the decades by the Arab MKs whose entire political platform has been predicated on incitement. Abbas is the first sign of a new spring, one that is fundamentally different from the events of the “Arab spring.” Following his footsteps will be many more Arab Israelis who want to responsibly partake in the state’s affairs. Abbas and many others with him are beginning to realize that a new reality in the region is taking shape before our very eyes. (…) Abbas will want to change the reality of “two states for two peoples,” not out of defiance and rejectionism, but out of moderation and compromise. If he continues on this path and isn’t stopped by his faction mates, he’ll likely be a cabinet minister one day. (…)

Moshe Elad, IHY, 20.11.20

We need a centrist Jewish-Arab party more than ever

(…) It’s hard to understand – but it’s not surprising. For 72 years, Israeli Arabs have been participating in Israeli democracy as an independent, isolationist unit, and their parties represent people who didn’t vote for them in Libya, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, Nablus, and the Gaza Strip. They formed alliances with the Israeli Left, but voted against peace accords, refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish, democratic state, and missed every opportunity to enlist on behalf of Israel’s Arab citizens. (…) they glorified isolationism, sanctified divisiveness, embraces those who wished Israel ill, kissed the terrorists who murdered innocent people, and are standing at the front of the campaign to delegitimize Israel, which they define as an apartheid state to be boycotted. But now, given the expanding regional peace, the need for a far-reaching, deep-seated change is becoming clearer than ever. We need an Arab-Jewish party that will operate as a centrist party. A party that won’t be the mouthpiece for haters of Israel and will aspire to an egalitarian Israel obligated to righting historic wrongs in the Arab sector and making immediate improvements to its life: personal safety, infrastructure, employment, education, higher education, and yes – integrating into Israeli society by serving in the military or through civilian national service. (…) Israel needs a Jewish-Arab party that sees the Arabs of Israel and the Jews of Israel as equal partners in a single purpose: ensuring that Israel develops, flourishes, and grows, as a Jewish democratic state that protects the national identity and culture of every sector. (…) A Jewish-Arab centrist party would bring hope to our shared lives in the country we love and whose economy, society, and military we want to strengthen. A country where what its Jewish and Arab citizens have in common is greater than what keeps them apart. (…)

Nael Zoabi, IHY, 24.11.20

Israel’s Arabs are finally waking up

The winds of peace and reason that have been blowing between the State of Israel and the Arab Gulf and moderate Sunni Arab states are quickly drawing closer to Israel’s Arab citizens, many of whom are coming to see that, for decades, they have been held hostage in the service of the Palestinians. (…) Israel’s Arab citizens are entitled to equality, just like every other citizen. (…) Israel’s governments throughout the years have made remarkable efforts to ensure equality, but these efforts have not been fully realized and there are signs of discrimination against the Arab sector. The greatest obstacle to realizing these rights is the political leadership of Israel’s Arabs, a leadership that convinced many Israelis that their allegiance lies with the Palestinian narrative, even when it leads to suicide attacks, bombs on buses, ramming attacks, and stabbing attacks. Arab states have recently declared that the Palestinian narrative is a sham. The time has come for Israel’s Arabs to admit the same. (…) A historical revolution is now underway; Israel’s citizens from the Arab sector are beginning to wake up. Mansour Abbas, the chairman of the Ra’am party, now a member party of the Joint Arab List, has wisely and bravely internalized the trap his voters are in and has decided the time has come for Israeli Arabs to worry more about themselves and less about the recalcitrant Palestinians. (…) should he persevere in this process, a great many of Israel’s Arabs will support him, and the treatment of this sector will undergo incredible change. (…) support for Abbas will ultimately lead to an agreement with the Palestinians as well.

Haim Shine, IHY, 26.11.20

Netanyahu has paved way for new Jewish-Arab alliances

Any improvement in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel is to be commended, and not least of all, a political alliance. But Benjamin Netanyahu’s new relationship with the Islamic Movement southern branch, a part of the predominately Arab Joint List Knesset faction, should not be confused with a change in the prime minister’s opinion of any political cooperation with Arab legislators that could one day result in a coalition to unseat him. Netanyahu has always demonized the Joint List and labeled any political alliance with it as no less than treason, citing its members’ support for the Palestinian national cause and accusing them of backing terrorism. His budding friendship with Mansour Abbas, leader of the Ra’am faction of the Joint List alliance, is motivated by the desire to win votes outside his natural right-wing coalition. (…) Abbas is the most moderate of all Arab MKs when it comes to cooperation with the government (…). Unlike others in the Joint List alliance, Abbas’ party does not hold nationalist or anti-Israeli positions and any success in swaying the other factions to a more moderate approach would be a welcome change. (…) The Arab sector is in the midst of a debate on the new direction Abbas appears to have taken, bringing him closer to Netanyahu and even being willing to supply votes to push through laws that would not otherwise have a majority in the Knesset. Netanyahu has built his political base (…). And now he is opening the door for other Jewish and Arab politicians to cooperate. It may not have been the prime minister’s intention, but it would be a step in the right direction for the country at large.

Ben-Dror Yemini, YED, 26.11.20

The Joint List? The Confused List

(…) Benjamin Netanyahu is an ace when it comes to dividing and ruling. (…) Odeh is worried about the collapse of his party and the loss of its hefty political power (…), which the representatives of the Arab public obtained by uniting, despite their ideological differences. But disputes were there before the arrival of Netanyahu, and they’ll remain after him. The same applies to the leftist camp: The great confusion among its members allowed Netanyahu to completely break it apart. We shouldn’t mock the left’s confusion or try to conceal it behind a tall and gentlemanly candidate. It’s a real disorientation (…) it is tightly linked to the Jewish-Arab question. The alternative to Netanyahu broke down due to the inability of some of those who were part of it to form a government that relies on Arab votes. (…) the internal debates among Israeli Arabs also ultimately revolve around the issue of cooperating with Jews. (…) Abbas (…) has more in common with the right than with the left. If he wants the freedom to make political maneuvers regarding LGBTQ issues, does the fact that he’s Arab oblige him to be in the liberal left-wing camp despite his being religious and conservative? On one hand, we could say that only in a world that’s embraced liberal values could he, as a member of a minority group, garner the sufficient political clout that enables him to deliberate between two camps, which is why he’s actually sawing off the branch he’s sitting on. On the other hand, the ultimate realization of his political power resides in his freedom to choose which camp he belongs to, while representing the values of his voters. This question is relevant not only for the Arab minority, but for any group that has attained political power. (…)

Carolina Landmann, HAA, 29.11.20

2. Defence Minister Gantz Orders Investigation Into Submarine Affair

There is no ‘normal life’ with coronavirus

The second wave of coronavirus hitting Europe and the closures of varying scopes now being imposed teach us that even in countries with leaderships unburdened by corruption and with populations that tend to be more disciplined than Israelis, the pathogen is a tough adversary to beat. This of course does not diminish Israel’s responsibility for the mess (…), caused by the government’s hasty and reckless exit from the first lockdown; nor does it ease the blame that Israelis share in brushing off the danger. But the rise in cases in countries like Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy and even Sweden (…) is proof that COVID-19 remains rampant and may not be controllable at all. The recent resurgence around the world and the rise in cases despite careful mitigation demands that we rethink the assumption that we can maintain a degree of normalcy while living alongside coronavirus. In a reality in which any mundane activity – such as going to work or meeting family and friends – can cause contagion, it is hard to see how regular economic activity can be restored and how we ourselves can resume our normal lives. As long as most of the population is not immune to the virus, we cannot allow hundreds of thousands of students back in school without mass contagion occurring. Hotels cannot open their doors to guests, industry cannot return and commerce cannot expect to continue uninterrupted for any length of time when the spread is surging and hospitals are once again facing the threat of being overrun, the latter ultimately leading to an inevitable third lockdown. In this global emergency, talk of reopening economies is unrealistic. It is time to stop fooling the public into believing we will all soon be back to normal. (…) those in power should at least try to mitigate the danger to the very lives of their citizens.

Sarit Rosenblum, YED, 01.11.20

Israel’s schools in the coronavirus age: Back to abnormal

There’s nothing normal about “back to normal” for the children in grades one to four except the chaos provided by the Education Ministry since day one of the coronavirus crisis. (…) The absurdity is that even if holding classes in smaller groups is an efficient way to avoid a spike in infections, that advantage will be scuttled when children from the different capsules mix in afternoon programs. What’s the logic in that? School has lurched into session three times like this now. It’s inconceivable for the approach to such a large system – 3 million children – to be so amateurish and confused. (…) By cutting back on the material studied, many local authorities throughout the country have drawn up better plans that will allow elementary school children to study five days a week in capsules while following Health Ministry guidelines and without the need to hire extra staff. But the Education Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Health Ministry prefer to ignore the local authorities, apparently according to the crooked logic that if it’s broke, don’t fix it. The wavering over dates for the winter matriculation exams is also putting undue pressure on teachers and students, and it looks like we’re set for another failure by the Education Ministry. The impression is that decision-making at the Education Ministry is unprofessional, a shoot-from-the-hip approach without learning from previous mistakes. When decisions are made by a small forum of the minister and his people, keeping professionals out of the process, such a complex and sensitive system can’t be properly run.

Editorial, HAA, 08.11.20

Netanyahu, crack down on Arab, haredi coronavirus violations

The signs are beginning to look worrisome once again. (…) amid all the discussions and meetings about what to do to prevent a third lockdown, the country’s decision-makers are walking on eggshells. The whole country does not need to be under a nighttime curfew, as most Israelis adhere to the restrictions and regulations about holding large gatherings, wearing masks and personal responsibility to stem the virus’s spread. Two sectors of the population who don’t fall into that category – the country’s ultra-Orthodox and Arab citizens – are the ones who need to be targeted. All statistics point to those sectors as being responsible for the bulk of infractions and new infections. (…) the declining trend in the number of cases in the ultra-Orthodox sector had stopped in some localities and in some instances, it had increased. Meanwhile, the infection rate in the Arab sector remains high. (…) Of course, not everyone in the haredi and Arab communities are flouting the coronavirus restrictions, but both sectors have become notorious for continuing to hold large weddings and public events with participants far beyond the allowed number, despite the increase in fines and beefed up police monitoring. (…) Efforts should be made to focus on those areas of the country where a major infection issue remains. At the same time, the rest of the country should be allowed to slowly continue to open up amid stringent supervision and oversight. (…)

Editorial, JPO, 12.11.20

Putting out the coronavirus fires

(…) There may already be reason enough to roll back some of the measures taken to reopen the country but the fight against the virus is an exercise in risk management during a time of extreme uncertainty, and as such is difficult to explain to the population. It is difficult to justify to Israelis why more restrictions are imposed by the government after a seemingly minor shift in positive tests. The most important guiding principle in risk management is a quick response. Another guiding principle is that there is no such thing as zero risk in determining the proper policy in the battle against COVID-19. (…) It is up to leadership to manage the risk and determine which is worth taking considering health, economy and education concerns. (…) As greater the chance of contagion in a certain economic or social activity, the longer it should remain out of bounds – and when it does resume, the quicker it should be shut down if infection rates rise as a result. These measures (…) must be recognized solely as the result of a careful policy and concern for public safety. (…) In light of recent spikes in COVID-19 cases across Europe, the government should indeed consider a nighttime curfew. (…) A nighttime curfew would also bring home the message that the virus is still with us and is no less dangerous that we believed it to be at the start of the pandemic.

When the ultimate solution is still out of our grasp, we must choose the next best answer and waste no time in implementing it.

Sever Plocker, YED, 14.11.20

3. Iranian Nuclear Researcher Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Murdered

The meaning and consequences of Mohsen Fakhri Zadeh’s elimination

The elimination of Mohsen Fakhri Zadeh, who is widely regarded as the father of Iran’s nuclear program, is an important milestone in the campaign against Iran’s nuclear program. Zadeh (…) has been a key figure in Iran’s nuclear efforts (…) the knowledge that existed in Zadeh’s head from his time as head of the Amad project was unique and priceless, and this fact, together with the deterrent dimension of the elimination that should warn every element in Iran not to lend a hand to such a move, should help achieve this goal. (…) However, it is important to note that Iran’s nuclear program does not rise or fall on Mohsen Fakhri Zadeh. Iran’s enrichment system is a large and well-established program (…) and eliminating a single individual, important as he may be, cannot harm that. Furthermore, the disclosures following Israel’s raid on Teheran’s nuclear archive proved that Iran’s nuclear knowledge is extremely broad, and certainly does not reside in the mind of just one person. (…) The chances (…) of Iranian retaliation for this elimination are high because failure to respond could severely damage the regime’s security image. (…) the Iranians (…) are likely to do so through the clandestine cells they operate around the world mainly in the areas where they operate with relative ease, whether it’s Asia or South America. Their likeliest targets will be diplomats, embassies and scientists. Either way, if Iran chooses this kind of response, it cannot carry it out immediately because of the logistical complexity, so we have tense weeks ahead of us. Iran can also decide to carry out its response through her proxies (such as Hezbollah) but history shows that in these kinds of events Iran prefers to carry out the response itself from different locations. (…)

Danny Citrinowicz, TOI, 28.11.20

Killing of Iranian scientist is a dangerous provocation

A moment before the transition of power in Washington, President Donald Trump presumably gave his blessing to the assassination of the father of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in Absard, northeast of Tehran. The goal of the operation, which has the potential to ignite a regional escalation, is to take advantage of the final moments of Trump’s term in order to constrain the President-elect Joe Biden and thwart a U.S. return to the international nuclear agreement with Iran. (…) Iranian leaders have already threatened harsh retaliation. (…) This intoxication with power may well lead not only to a dangerous military conflict with Iran, but also to Israel’s first diplomatic crisis with the Biden administration even before it enters office. (…) instead of striving to preserve this strategic alliance, which is vital also for the struggle against Iran, Israel is only widening the rift. (…) Few ask how Israel would respond were Iranians to carry out a hit on a senior official on Israeli soil, much less one of its best scientists. And too few ask what has happened to diplomacy, why has it been removed from the toolbox. There is a balance of terror between Israel and Iran, an arms race to obtain deterrence without any solution on the horizon. Diplomatic solutions, rather than only military ones, to an escalation must be considered. This issue currently divides Democrats and Republicans in the United States, yet in Israel any discussion of it has become completely taboo.

Editorial, HAA, 29.11.20

Between a rock and a hard place

Iran is both furious and embarrassed by the assassination of its nuclear chief. (…) Desire to exact revenge over the killing of a key official aside, Iran’s threats of a devastating reprisal reflects more than anything else the colossal embarrassment the assassination has caused the Iranian security apparatus, which has again emerged as helpless. Fakhrizadeh was one of the most secured individuals in Iran. (…) But they were unable to protect him. Determined to retaliate, Iran now faces a three-pronged dilemma: First, they have to decide on a target for their wrath. (…) Tehran believes that Israel wasn’t working alone. Reports in Iranian media hedged that the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian militant organization that recently made explicit threats against Fakhrizadeh, was involved. Other reports name the Saudis as co-conspirators (…). And, of course, Iran believes US President Donald Trump has something to do with it, especially given reports that his advisers convinced him not to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. This brings us to the Islamic republic’s second dilemma: What type of retaliation to mount. Do they target an Israeli embassy? Order Iran’s Lebanon-based proxy Hezbollah to fire a missile on the Golan Heights? Target Saudi oil facilities? (…) The third dilemma focuses on the consequences of Iranian retaliation. (…) A major concern for Iran is that even a limited military response on its part would be seized by the US and Israel as an opportunity to unleash a wide-scale response against it. (…)

Oded Granot, IHY, 29.11.20

Iran’s revenge for slain nuclear scientist could include missiles on Eilat

The tone used (…) by leaders of the Islamic Republic, following the assassination of Iran’s leading nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was concerning. (…) the regime is now forced to calculate its next move carefully. (…) If Iran’s revenge is to be successful in deterring Jerusalem from further attacks and satisfying the vengeful needs of the Islamic Republic, it would require time and planning. A far-reaching Iranian response, however, one that might cause fatalities in Israel, would compel Biden to postpone any plans to remove the crippling sanctions placed on Tehran by his predecessor. As a result, as long as there is the slightest chance that the incoming administration will lift sanctions, Iranians will refrain from a response that would deteriorate the bilateral relations any further. (…) the Iranians (…) have an infrastructure in place in cities across the world, from which to launch attacks against Israeli and Jewish institutions, like their attack on the Jewish community building and the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in the 1990s. (…) They may attempt to target Saudi Arabia’s oil production, as they had done in 2019 when a well-coordinated strike that included missiles, drones and suicide bombers, halted half of the Gulf kingdom’s ability to produce oil for many weeks but exacted no human toll. Should Iran opt to attack Israel in a similar matter, they would have to carry out such a strike from a base closer to Israeli borders. They would also likely use proxies so as not to leave their own identifying prints on such an operation. Since the regime in Tehran understands they are compromised in terms of intelligence inside their own borders as well as in Syria and Iraq, an attack – should one be planned – would likely come from the south, probably using the Houthi rebels in Yemen to carry it out, perhaps targeting an Israeli vessel in the Red Sea or even launching a ballistic missile at the southern city of Eilat. Iran’s leaders have proven their ability to be patient and calculated in their responses. (…)

Ron Ben Yishai, YED, 29.11.20

Assassinations and sanctions aren’t working: Why America and Israel need a new Iran strategy

The U.S. and Israel have two problems with Iran: its regional meddling and its nuclear aspirations. Their current approach, which devolves to bumping off senior officials, imposing extraterritorial sanctions, and abandoning negotiated agreements isn’t working, and seems unlikely to work in the future. (…) assassination doesn’t solve the underlying problem. It does, however, incur risks both in the near term and down the road. (…) More generally, killings of this kind are legally questionable, and lower the barrier for other states that might want to get in on the game. (…) There’s a better way to deal with these underlying problems. On the nuclear side, the U.S. could go back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), assuming the Biden team can successfully engage an Iranian leadership that has little reason to trust Washington. (…) On the regional security side, however, an alternative strategy might be easier to apply. And that would be to direct Arab financial and commercial prowess to outbid Iran wherever it tries to get a foothold – or increase its influence – within the region. This approach might also clip the wings of an increasingly authoritarian and aggressive Turkey. From both an American and Israeli perspective, mobilization of Arab resources to compete with Iran is simply more practical than the use of U.S. power or Israeli covert operations to subjugate or weaken it. (…)

Joshua Landis, Aiman Mansour, Steven Simon, HAA, 29.11.20

Israel and Iran’s atomic two-step

(…) Iran’s desire to avenge the killing of the head of its nuclear program Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, coupled with the regime’s wish to salve its wounded pride, could lead us down a murky path. (…) it is a safe bet that any retaliation for the death of Fakhrizadeh will be carried out on foreign soil. (…) One should assume that Israel is currently taking precautions against any actions by Iran targeting its institutions and individuals abroad. Meanwhile, the Iranians are now most likely to make use of any sleeper cells within the West Bank or even inside Israel’s own borders. Israel’s guiding principle in its war against the Iranian nuclear program is to constantly be on the offensive. While Jerusalem knows there is not one single action it can take to decimate Iran’s entire nuclear program, Tehran also knows there is not one element of that program that is immune to Israel’s attempts to thwart it. This includes physical strikes and cyber attacks on nuclear facilities, as well as targeting its human factor – the scientists, managers and aides. (…) Some Israeli officials have begun, either directly or indirectly, to claim credit for covert operations, thereby eliminating any plausible deniability and almost inviting our enemies to respond.

Alex Fishman, YED, 29.11.20

4. Selection of Articles

Protest Against the Appointment of Effi Eitam as Director of Yad Vashem

Effi Eitam is a deplorable choice to head Yad Vashem

(…) There is always a very clear, moral line that cannot be crossed in any way, otherwise, you are not a leader but rather an opportunist who has lost his own soul. A clear example of crossing the clear line is the nomination by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister Ze’ev Elkin of Effi Eitam as Chairman of Yad Vashem. (…) the post of chairman of Yad Vashem is not just another public position. Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, is a symbol; it is a holy place. (…) Effi Eitam has a personal history that disqualifies him for this special position (…) because of his actions and his rhetoric. Under his command in the Givati Brigade ​​in 1988, four of his subordinates were on trial for the murder of a prisoner. (…) After his discharge from the army in 2000, Eitam lectured on the need to reoccupy all of Judea and Samaria and to expel overnight the entire Arab population from there. He said the army has the ability to do so, it just lacks the will. He has called several times over the years for the expulsion of all or some Arabs from Judea and Samaria. Of the Arabs within the State of Israel, Eitam said they were “the ticking bomb beneath the whole democratic Israeli order.” He called these Israeli citizens an “elusive threat” that “by their nature resemble cancer. (…) Yad Vashem has become a major force in the global fight against genocide and ethnic cleansing even without this being part of its exhibitions and outright agenda. (…) Eitam’s views, expressed in his speeches and declarations, support what is defined in the world as ethnic cleansing. It is no wonder the great Holocaust scholars and many survivors are shocked by what they call the appointment that will turn Yad Vashem “into a mockery and a disgrace.” (…)

Rabbi Michael Melchior, TOI, 22.11.20

Jonathan Pollard Is Allowed to Leave

Pollard – What Is There to Celebrate?

(…) It is (…) difficult to work up empathy for the released convict when his crime, for which the defendant entered a guilty plea in court, was the despicable offense of espionage against the elected government of his own country—a robust democracy, not a repressive totalitarian regime. When that crime seems to have been motivated at least in part by a desire for personal profit, the criminal’s actions reach the level of heinous. What is there to celebrate, then, about Jonathan Pollard’s intent to move to Israel now that he has been released from his parole restrictions 35 years after he was caught selling top secret documents? He apparently spied at least as much for the money as for Israel. (…) Press reports cite US intelligence officials as saying that Pollard also sold documents to Pakistan, South Africa, and two other countries they declined to identify. (…) Pollard modeled treasonous behavior toward a democratic country, and in doing so he also caused grievous harm to the status of American Jews in the eyes of American public officials and the American public. (…) America’s Jews had spent centuries trying to put to rest accusation of dual loyalty. After an American Jew admitted to offering to spy for Israel and did what the US Defense Department described as enormous damage to American national security, those who questioned the loyalty of America’s Jews were provided with ample arguments. (…) Pollard is not another Sharansky, not a refusenik whose brave defense of human rights and Zionist commitment led to his persecution by a tyrannical regime. (…)

Peretz Rodman, TOI, 24.11.20

Visit of the Outgoing US Secretary of State

The last days of Pompeo

Mike Pompeo chose to end his term as secretary of state with a tour of solidarity with Israel’s extreme right, while spitting on decades of pre-Trump U.S. foreign policy, on the norms of international law and on justice. (…) It’s a good thing that he will soon leave office. (…) Pompeo announced that the State Department will regard the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as antisemitic and called the movement a “cancer.” With that, the secretary of state embraced the false propaganda of the Israeli government, according to which anyone who supports a boycott of the settlements or of Israel over the occupation is an antisemite. This dangerous position constitutes an anti-democratic silencing of free speech. (…) Sanctions and boycotts are internationally accepted tools against unjust regimes, and so long as the Israeli occupation persists and the Palestinian people is not free, there will be more and more calls to use these tools against Israel as well as the settlements. (…) It would seem that the only thing that still remains for Pompeo to do during his visit is to approve Israel’s annexation to the Yesha Council. These are the last days of Pompeo. How good it is that this is the case.

Editorial, HAA, 20.11.20

HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes

Published: December 2020.

Responsible: Dr. Paul Pasch, Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel
Editors: Susanne Knaul, Judith Stelmach

Focus Areas

Social Justice

Social Justice

Social justice on the basis of equal social rights and standards is a central pillar of the work of the FES in Israel.


Labor relations

Labor relations

Decent work and labor relations based on a strong social partnership are core values and ideas of social democracy.


Shared Society

Shared Society

As a social democratic foundation, we want to promote a society in which all members have equal rights, equal accessibility to resources and all contribute to society.


Gender Justice

Gender Justice

The situation of women and the LGBTQ community in Israel has steadily improved over the past few years. Nonetheless, the gender gap remains wide and misogynous or homophobic prejudice persists in many sections of Israeli society.


Peace and Security Dialogue

Peace and Security Dialogue

FES Israel contributes to the peace and security policy dialogue with the introduction of progressive concepts.


Israeli–German / European Relations

Israeli–German / European Relations

For more than 50 years, FES Israel has played an essential role in promoting dialogue between Israel and Germany.


Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Find out more about our previous and future events. More



Would you like to learn more about our focus areas? Have a look at our publications. More

Press Review

Press Review

“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press. More



Here you will find selected video clips on several subjects and from FES Israel events. More

Looking for more insights?

IPS Journal

IPS Journal

IPS-Journal is a young magazine with a much older heritage. The online journal highlights global inequality and brings new perspectives on issues such as the environment, European integration, international relations, social democracy and development policy.


The Future is Feminist!

The Future is Feminist!

Feminism has always challenged social circumstances and demanded more justice. Courageous and committed feminists tirelessly advocated for human dignity and the legal and factual equality of women, and many positive changes were achieved.


 FES in the Middle East and North Africa

FES in the Middle East and North Africa

The promotion of social democratic values, including democratic and inclusive decision-making, social justice, sustainable economic development, the preservation of the environment for everybody, and peaceful international relations, are at the core of FES’ activities in the MENA region.


back to top