‘This is a hair-on-fire moment’: Why Canadian Jewish leaders are worried about Israel’s new government

Ben Murane, New Israel Fund of Canada (left), Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and Miriam Pearlman, former president of ARZA Canada and member of Temple Sinai, a Reform synagogue in Toronto. (Submitted photos)

This week, Israel’s incoming prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will announce the country’s cabinet ministers. It’s all but certain that this will comprise his coalition partners, including Bezalel Smotrich, an extreme right-wing politician who wants to take control of the entire West Bank and Gaza and opposes rights for LGBTQ people; Itamar Ben-Gvir, infamous for his anti-Arab political stances; and Aryeh Deri, who’s been convicted on separate counts of tax evasion and bribery—and spent almost two years in jail.

Netanyahu insists these men will have to walk back some of their more extreme plans. But one law that could change is the Law of Return, restricting aliyah to only those born to a Jewish mother, in accordance with the Orthodox viewpoint. And how they handle the ongoing crisis with Palestinians is also up for debate—whether new laws will incite more violence and terror.

To discuss all these issues and more, The CJN Daily assembled a panel of three Canadian Jewish leaders to share their concerns and make some predictions about what Israel will look like in the near future. Ben Murane is the executive director of the New Israel Fund of Canada; Miriam Pearlman is a past president of the Association of Reform Zionists of America Canada; and Shimon Koffler Fogel is the CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

What we talked about:



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Ellin Bessner:

That’s what it sounded like Saturday night in Toronto when police were called to control a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside an Orthodox synagogue and high school, Or Haim. The protest was held because of a lecture being given inside by a rep from an Israeli settlers’ advocacy organization called Regavim. The group was founded 16 years ago by Betsalel Smotrich. It goes to court to block what it considers illegal Palestinian construction projects in the West Bank and Bedouin ones in the Negev. It wants to reclaim every inch of what it calls Judea and Samaria for Jews. Smotrich is an extreme right-wing Israeli politician whose head of Israel’s Religious Zionist Party, and he will likely take a top cabinet post if Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister designate, manages to form a government, maybe even as the minister in charge of all building on the West Bank. So, while some critics say that sounds like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, Smotrich is just one of the issues setting off alarm bells for Canadian Jews, especially from the left and progressive movements. Netanyahu has until December 21 to finalize the cabinet, and thanks to his deal with six right wing and ultra right wing religious parties, the cabinet will include Smotrich, who is also against LGBTQ rights and Arabs and wants to weaken the power of the Supreme Court. Plus, Itamar Ben Gvir, who’s been convicted of inciting violence against Arabs and will likely be appointed head of the police, and Aryeh Deri of the Shas Party, who’s already been convicted of tax evasion and served time in jail. It’s going to heighten what is already the most divisive issue in the Jewish community today, which is Israel.

CLIP: Ben Murane, NIF Canada: What do you do about it? How do you talk about it? How do you engage it? There’s really no unanimity on Israel at all inside the family, especially if there’s violent extremists who are ministers of the government. How do you support that?

Ellin: I’m Ellin Bessner, and this is what Jewish Canada sounds like for Monday, December 19, 2022. Welcome to the CJN Daily. For the first day of Hanukkah. We’re a podcast of the Canadian Jewish News sponsored by Metropia.

Ellin: Benjamin Netanyahu says he’s in charge, not the coalition partners, and he predicts his new cabinet ministers will all have to walk back some of their most extreme plans. Netanyahu insists Israel won’t become a Halachic state, but a great topic of concern for Diaspora Jews are possible changes to Israel’s Law of Return that would make it apply only to those who were born to a Jewish mother, according to Orthodox religious law. So, what will Israel look like after this week? To discuss all this and more, I’ve assembled a panel of three Canadian Jewish leaders to share their concerns. So, joining me now are Ben Murane from the New Israel fund of Canada, Miriam Pearlman with the Reform Jewish community ARTZA, the Reform Zionist movement and Shimon Koffler Fogel, the CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs joins now from Jerusalem.

GUESTS: Good to be with you. Thank you.

Ellin: So, let’s just quickly do a lightning round. I’ll start with you, Ben. What is your group’s main two, three concerns about what is happening in Israel, potentially with the new government?

Ben Murane, NIF Canada: Our group is the New Israel Funder of Canada. Our purpose has been to protect and advance democracy and equality in Israel. We fund projects over there led by Israelis of all kinds of backgrounds, working on democracy, equality, shared society between Jews and Arabs, antiracism, opposing the occupation, women’s rights, the whole gamut. So, to us, this new government is really a whole new ball game. Considering how extreme it is and the players involved, the top two concerns that we have are Netanyahu who is not only included bringing Jewish supremacists, ultra-nationalists and some violent extremists into the government, he’s also handing control to those people of, say, the state armed forces like border patrol and police and whatever. Issues we thought were safe in the past, say, like the rights of any non-orthodox Jewish people. Not to mention any of those, say, like Palestinian citizens or Palestinian residents of the territories who aren’t Jewish, aren’t safe anymore. We can’t take for granted that those things won’t see huge and detrimental changes and that Israel’s democracy won’t be permanently or hugely wounded in this time.

Ellin: And Miriam?

Miriam Pearlman, ARZA Canada: For the Reform movement, it’s pretty easy for me, I must say, as we work closely with the Israel Reform Movement in Israel and with IRAC, which Ben knows well, Israel Religious Action Centre. So, our goals, our primary goals are to grow liberal, progressive Judaism in Israel. We say that there’s more than one way to be Jewish. And of course, all of these threats, they’re very worrisome too. It’s already been, always a fight. And IRAC has been wonderful in the Supreme Court getting us rights for rabbis, Reform rabbis to sometimes get paid. Most don’t. For women’s rights, for all the things that Ben just said. We don’t just work to grow progressive Judaism in Israel. We’re partnered with two very important congregations in Israel to help build them, but also all the 52 congregations now in Israel, Reform congregations. So, the whole progressive, liberal Judaism in Israel, if we’re going to be, if it’s a homeland for all of us, we need to feel home there. And all these threats to progressive Judaism, all of that, of course, a Halachic state, God forbid that we could have that, that’s the top worry. But the second worry is what Ben was saying, because we are also about a just society and about a democracy. So, the Supreme Court issue, which I’m sure you’re going to address, is a threat. The de facto annexation, God forbid. I keep saying God forbid. So those are the three top worries. I think 2002 was the last Intifada. This past year has been more violence and more deaths since then. And the fear is that we’re going into another very violent time, and we know what that means.

Ellin: Thank you so much. And Shimon, from CIJA’s point of view, what are the top issues from this side of the Atlantic that worry you? Just quickly, two lightning questions.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CIJA:

We are concerned about a sense of inclusion that all Jews in the Diaspora feel, that they are not just stakeholders, but partners in building and strengthening the State. And policies that might challenge the ability of everybody to feel equal access, equal validation is something that has to be of concern to us in Canada. And then more broadly, I don’t think that we can ignore the possibility that certain policies that might be pursued will challenge the relationship on the bilateral and multilateral level between Israel and other countries globally, and that Israel’s standing may be at some risk.

Ellin: All right, let’s pursue a couple of the things we’ve brought up. You mentioned Halachic State and you said God forbid. So, in Israel, there are certain comments and campaign pledges in the news that certainly give people pause, specifically the Law of Return. Let’s start with that. What are you worried about with the changes that could come in to change…It’s called the Basic Law of Israel, for the Law of Return.

Miriam Pearlman: But just from the progressive, liberal Judaism side, as you know, there’s, a million Russians came, and many of them they have not wanted to convert through the Halacha, through the Orthodox way, and they have converted in ways, or they’re not converted and they will not be recognized. So, the threat to so many that are already there in terms of being recognized as full citizens, not just with full rights, plus more that would want to come sorry, Shimon, I’ll let you carry on from there.

Shimon Koffler Fogel: No, I’ll just flowing from what you said. The Law of Return has been the subject of pretty intense debate for decades. A significant segment of the Russians who have come to Israel really have no desire or intention of embracing Judaism as a core part of their identity. The real question in this regard is what is their status? What is the basis on which they would be allowed access to essentially fast-tracking citizenship in Israel and so forth. And I think that that’s something to be worked out.

But Ellin, the one word of caution that I would offer for all of this discussion is in my experience, and I’ve been around for quite a while, there is a significant difference between the rhetoric that characterizes campaigns and what happens during a time of governance. I don’t want to be dismissive of some of the concerns that people have articulated and that I share, for the record. But I think that it would be a mistake to prejudge how things are going to fall out once a government is formed, once they are faced with the challenges of actually governing. Because the range of options is much narrower when you’re in government than when you’re seeking to form a government. So, I think that we may be surprised that many of the initiatives that have been identified with some of the more challenging actors will actually not move forward because there are so many other layers. It’s not just about the Jews. It’s not just about the paradox of us in the Diaspora and Israelis in Israel who have expressed their democratic right to select the parties and the governments they want. There are other players. Netanyahu is committed to developing relations with Saudi Arabia that could be at risk depending on who does what. The Palestinians. The Jordanians are also stakeholders. And then there’s the big elephant in the room of the United States, which has certain expectations of the values that will be reflected in Israeli government policy and ensuring that they align with America’s sense of inclusion and equity.

Ellin: But let’s get back to the Law of Return, just for our listeners. Maybe you’re not familiar with it. I had to check it again. There’s a law that allows any Jew to come as long as they have a grandparent that was Jewish, even if they themselves are not practicing. That was a change done in the 70s. It’s been a fundamental pillar of Basic Law, and now the talk is that they will get rid of that. And so how would that impact Reform? Conservative people from Canada, for example, who want to make Aliya?

Shimon Koffler Fogel: Well, but Ellin so the Law of Return isn’t the only way to secure citizenship. It’s a fast track way. I’ll put it on record that I think a year from now we will see that there has been no significant change in the application of the Law of Return.

Ellin: All right, well, we’ll put a doughnut on that.

Ben Murane: I would agree with Shimon on that. There’s a lot of other more immediate worries then that one about playing out. I’ll add to this, if I may, that I think we’d be naive to trust any promises that Netanyahu makes. Benny Gantz learned that the hard way. I don’t think his coalition partners are giving him any benefit, any trust. I think they’re going to hold his get out of jail free card, any promises that he’ll manage to escape his corruption trials for as long as they can. Because I think as soon as he gets that, I think the coalition finds itself on some weak leg. I think when we talk about the change of, say, the KOTEL or let’s just explain for a second. The change at the KOTEL means that there’s some movement, that it would only allow Orthodox prayers at the KOTEL and nobody else could go. That’s one thing on the table.

Miriam: But these are hugely symbolic issues for those of us in the Diaspora. And I think the messages of any significant changes there are just that they’re discussing them. Even the Reform rabbi who is a minister, a member of Knesset, Gilad Kariv, a dear friend and hero of mine, a very close partner of the New Israel Fund in Israel, as well as all of our Reform partners. Just talking about it is damaging enough.

Ben: It’s provoking and already moving conversation in the Diaspora about what does it mean to, quote, unquote, support Israel? Who are you supporting in Israel? What are you supporting in Israel? And I think it’s very divisive. You can’t obviously support violent extremists. And I think for young Jews, especially young Jews especially, who we know from recent studies, are more liberal than their parents and their grandparents, Canadian Jews to American Jews, to UK Jews, to young Jews, too. Australia. Everywhere. It’s true in the Diaspora, they’re going to look to their elders, look to their community for some sense of leadership on this. And if they see their leaders, their institutions, their communities, they’re sending out sort of become mealy mouthed apologists for Jewish extremism, I think they’re going to be upset, they’re going to be disturbed, and rightly so. Love of Israel is one thing, but support for policies is another.

Ellin: So, Shimon, somebody was mentioning earlier, and I want you to start this one, if you could. When we talked about violence, maybe another Intifada, I heard that one of the ministers was on an interview saying, quote, ‘If one Israeli mother cries versus 1,000 Palestinian mothers cry, I’ll take 1000 Palestinian mothers.’ I’m putting that as a sort of a lead into how worried are you and your organization about the potential for even more crackdowns on Arabs and Palestinians in the territories going forward with these new ministers in charge. We should say it’s Ben Gvir and Smotrich who have now got roles with the Ministry of Defence and police.

Shimon Koffler Fogel: Yeah. So, it was Ben Gvir that said that he’d be more responsive to one Jewish mother crying than a thousand Palestinians. I don’t think that that’s helpful rhetoric. What we have to recognize, though, is that the intensity of violence has been increasing sharply for well over a year during a time when arguably you have a much more progressive government in place trying to move forward on a number of things, including being much more responsive to Arab-Israeli needs and so forth. The violence comes from many different sources. It reflects the deterioration of control on the part of the Palestinian Authority, the rise of criminality and really tribal warfare between different families within the Arab community, even within Israel proper. So, I’m not sure that we’ll be able to make a very neat correlation between this government and an increase in violence. Lots of other things are at play, but while there are emotional issues or emotional triggers to the issues that we’ve just been talking about for the first few minutes, those actually aren’t the primary focus of the parties that we’re speaking of. They have other agenda items. One of them does touch on the management of the occupation in the territories, a significant focus on the Supreme Court and the idea of an override. I’m not sure that prayer at the wall is going to be the issue on which they’re going to fall on their swords. I think that all of them have very compelling reasons to want to ensure that some of these other policy issues are addressed. First and foremost, COGAT, the administration of the territories is not an uncomplicated package of administration, and Israel doesn’t do it in a vacuum. It does it with support from the US, from the international community. Even Canada is directly involved in some of the security dimensions. So, I think the latitude of a new government to move on all of these things is going to be far more compressed than their rhetoric so far will say. And Ben is right. The parties that Netanyahu has invited into the coalition – they have no trust in Netanyahu, and they look at his track record in terms of commitments made and commitments honoured, and they are rightly suspicious of him. This coalition is going into it with the absence of any trust. So, it’s not clear to me what comes out of it. But the one last thing that I have to say, Ben, there is unanimity amongst the Jewish community. It may not be on specific policies, but so far we have an overwhelming majority of the Jewish community in Canada and in the Diaspora generally, who are committed to the Jewish state, who believe in the Zionist project. And what they want to ensure is that it reflects the kind of big tent that allows everybody to feel a sense not just of partnership, but of part ownership. And that’s the paradox that we have outside. We’re told that Israel is core to our identity, but we’re not Israelis, we don’t get to vote in elections. And it creates a gap between our respective understandings of the imperative of the day, and it’s only going to lessen if there is a genuine commitment by all stakeholders, not just us on the outside, but Israelis on the inside, to ensure that there is that sensitivity and responsiveness.

Miriam Pearlman: I need to say that the unanimity is one thing, but we know that the impact on Diaspora Jewry is huge and the antisemitism that’s growing. I’m a former TDSB school superintendent and also the child of Holocaust survivors, so this is all very personal to me, and it’s affecting us deeply in Canada. So, we are facing a very scary time because of the perceived, whether they actually happen or not. But it is in the talk, as Ben said, when Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who’s a constitutional lawyer, also when he says just the fact that it’s being talked about is alienating, and it’s certainly alienating. I know all sorts here in Toronto that talked about going to Israel. Now they’re saying, ‘I don’t think I want to go to Israel’. It is affecting us as Canadian Jews in so many ways in terms of our connection with Israel, our next generation, it’s very scary. And the antisemitism that’s growing and if we have this de facto feeling of an annexation, it just empowers the Palestinian, the pro-Palestinian community that is increasing the antisemitism here in Toronto and elsewhere.

Ellin: We should say, I’m going to jump in there. There’s nothing wrong with being pro-Palestinian. I think what you mean is the anti-Israel movement.

Miriam: Absolutely. When it is Anti-Israel, it increases the antisemitism.

Shimon: I’m not going to be dismissive of the connection between things that happen here and spikes in antisemitism where they use Israel as sort of the collective or the proxy Jew for everybody. But it’s much more complex than that. What we’re experiencing, whether in the public-school system or universities, or in society in general, is a lot of different dimensions and evolution of antisemitism. So, the rise of antisemitism, which denies the Jewish people the ability to define for themselves their lived experience, has nothing to do with Israel. It has to do with a very woke perception that Jews by definition cannot have experienced hate and discrimination because they’re part of the oppressor class, the white privilege, or at minimum adjacent white.

Miriam: There are definitely multiple sources, but Israel is one of them. As you said, the woke that’s happening, which I’m…

Shimon: Very well, but Israel was one of it a year ago too. And how do we reconcile that? Ben Gvir was not in power, he was not even close to power. He was just a wild man on the right. It’s messy all the way around.

Ellin: You bring up the word court and I want to start talking about the reform of the Court, the Knesset override issue, the possibility that the Knesset will be able to override laws that are made or rulings that are made by the Supreme Court, which would, I think, correct me if I’m wrong, automatically absolve or dismiss the corruption trial against Netanyahu.

Ben: Yeah, it’s a huge concern. This is a hair on fire moment. We know from the Jewish community in Canada, knows from fighting antisemitism, from fighting extremists that take aim at our community, you have to take them at their word. When they say that they want to do something, they’re going to try and do it. And you don’t give them the benefit of the doubt that they won’t. And so Jewish extremists deserve the exact same sort of moral consistency. Let’s take them at their word and let’s be concerned. And one of the things that I think we cannot wait to raise a moral voice against some of these major threats to democracy because they’re offering these things now as they do their coalition negotiations and they will continue to jockey to prioritize the issues they want the most. They are looking for a reaction. Which are the issues they can get away with and where are they going to have to spend political capital. Now actually is some of the most important times to speak up about this. They’re discussing a court override clause that look, it could unfold in many ways, Ellin, so actually it could be a broad one. It could be broad, but it had limits like the notwithstanding clause in Canada has, or it could be exceptionally narrow, say, only an override only on, say, issues of Jewish national identity, which is hugely problematic in its own right. Or maybe it’s tailored to the corruption pieces, you know, like, it’s very unlikely that some version of the override clause will not pass. It’s just a question of when and what the extent it will be. And its part and parcel of broader legal reforms that the right wing has been asking, the right wing, the settler camp, the religious parties have been agitating for, for over a decade. We’ve been washing this very concern on fighting against. New Israel Fund has been funding projects, fighting this for along with IRAC and others because it threatens to undo all of the yield signs, speed bumps and stop signs in Israeli democracy over, say, protecting vulnerable populations, protecting foundational freedoms and rights. There isn’t a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Israel. There isn’t a constitutional level law, like there are quasi constitutional laws, but it could take 50% plus one of any Knesset to change them, to change Israel’s fundamental guiding principles. That is an incredibly weak constitutional system. It’s not the same as making a comparison to Canada, and the notwithstanding clause. Israel will go from being an embattled liberal democracy, an imperfect but embattled liberal democracy, to a majoritarian democracy, which is, the government in power, whatever government it is at the time, will just get to do anything they want. There will be no stops on them running over people’s rights, harming vulnerable populations. And when we say that they want to do that, we have to take them at their word and we have to say “No”. That’s crossing a red line.

Shimon Koffler Fogel: So, Ben, it’s not helpful, I don’t think, for us to exaggerate what is being proposed. The reality is that many countries have been increasingly troubled by what they call activist courts and are trying to seek some kind of balance between the court interpreting law and the court making law. There is a concept of being able to override something under certain conditions. Everybody who is debating this or proposing that kind of override, which, by the way, I’m not in favour of and I don’t think would be helpful. But they’re not talking about a simple majority. They’re talking about a supermajority that would be required. I think then it becomes problematic when they actually limit it in application to things, because that may make it more palatable to people because say, well, it’s not on everything, it’s just on some things. But if we’re talking about a point of principle, we have to be really concerned about the thin edge of the wedge. Let me just add one other thing because, I know Ellin is always interested in the Canadian dimension. I think we in Canada have a special concern about this. There has, over a number of decades, and Irwin Cotler was instrumental in this, developed a very close and collaborative relationship between the Israeli and the Canadian judicial systems. Lots of work has been done, and in fact, Israel has looked to Canada as the model of the kind of constitution that they would like to translate their basic laws into. So, I think that fundamental changes that challenge the independence and the integrity of the court will be viewed with even greater scrutiny and concern here in Canada. And I can tell you, as the lobbyists for the pro-Israel community, one of our banners is trumpeting Israel’s independent judiciary. If that comes into question, it takes away an important dimension of the shared values between Canada and Israel.

And so, I circle back to the beginning. It’s not just about us. It’s about how developments in Israel are going to impact on the bilateral and multilateral relationships that Israel has with others in the world.

Miriam: Shimon, I appreciate what you just said, and it’s important to keep in mind that Israel, they keep saying, “like Canada”, but we have province, we’re a different system. They have one Knesset with very limited, really separation between executive and the legislative, I guess, and then the Supreme Court. And they have one riding. Like, we have all these writings. They have like one riding, so it’s one electoral riding. It’s a very different system and so it’s much more fragile. So, I welcome what you’re saying, that we in Canada, and of course, I’m a strong support of CIJA as well, that we in Canada would react to any real taking over power, threatening the Supreme Court in Israel.

Ellin: Okay, we just want to close with one more topic, if we can. There have been talk about how Israel’s own population voted with their feet this time, and they’re moving to the more religious right. So maybe, limiting beaches to same sex, turning off power on the weekends, and also talking about limiting LGBTQ rights and transgender rights, which Israel has now. So, I would love you guys to just talk about what you’re hearing from your communities about how worrisome this is.

Miriam: Can I jump in on one particular one as an educator? The curriculum. The Haredi are saying they want the secular schools to have more Torah and Talmud study. We’ve been told that some of the mayors of the cities have said, “No way we’re going to allow that. We’ll pay for curriculum ourselves”. And the other thing is the Haredis are saying for their schools they want more funding without any change to their core curriculum. I’m sure we all know that they don’t study math or science. And my background was in mathematics, so I care. So never mind the beaches, because if there’s proportional and Netanyahu said it’ll be proportional to the population, whether they have segregated beaches. What about the women on the back of the bus? IRAC fought that and won that women cannot be told they have to sit at the back of the bus. What about that?

Shimon: There’s theory versus reality. It’s such a silly issue, this segregated beach thing. But in principle, I go to Good Life Fitness in Canada. There are dedicated Good Life Fitnesses for women because they want them, for whatever reasons, they would feel more comfortable with it. Again, I don’t think that these are going to be the big issues. I’m going to actually surprise you and go at it from an entirely different way. The assumption is that the Haredi community is monolithic, that it is simply being responsive to whatever this or that leader declares is going to be their position. That’s not the case anymore. Over the last, I’d say 20 years, but certainly over the last ten years, there has been an awakening within the Haredi community to deficits that are impacting on their quality of life. And there has been a huge movement, whether it’s inclusion in the IDF with accommodations for their particular needs or increasing the scope of their curriculum, to allow them to develop the tools to be functioning and productive members of society. Poverty is an issue that is not going to be resolved simply by government handout. And there are Haredi organizations that are dedicated to giving agency to young Haredi, both students and young adults, in order to allow them to be empowered. They’re going to push back against this too. They already are. It doesn’t attract the same attention because it’s not that dramatic kind of clash. But it’s a good example of the kind of other consideration that I think is going to impact on the public policy process over the coming period, because they’re not going to want to lose the gains that they’ve achieved in having more choices, being more inclusive and mainstreaming into Israeli life.

Ben: I’m actually going to pick up on that. I want to agree on that. The good news and the bad news is that Israel is divided 50 50 right down the middle. On the question of democracy like this, 50% of Israelis in the last election was like 49.5 voted for the alternative government. It was sort of implicitly or explicitly in support of continued Jewish Palestinian political partnership, the participation of Arab political parties in the coalition. That’s not insignificant. And when we look at the broader issues, we see these responses, like Miriam has pointed out, of local educational councils saying “Not in our schools”. And Shimon is absolutely right that the Haredi community is not monolithic and we fund projects in there of liberal Haredim led by women who believe in women’s rights and even ending the occupation, I might add. There’s a lot of exciting things happening in Israeli civil society over the past four, five elections, the percentage of the Israeli population that was open to, willing to, happy with the idea of Arabs in government, went from somewhere around 30%. The next election it went into the high 30s, then it went into the 40s, then it went into the crossed into a majority of Israelis are willing to consider, willing to accept Arab government in Israel like a political partner that is positive, that is great and that is then you look at the right wing, the centre right, which is a part of the Never Bibi camp. Ruby Rivlin, Dan Meridor, Benny Begin, these are Likud princes who have been very vocal about they are small D democrats in opposing the changes to the court, changes to democracy, handing power to extremists. The pro-democracy camp is bigger than just, say, like the peace camp or the left or Meretz and Labour. And what we’re looking at in Israel at the moment is the pro-democracy camp is coming into its own. The issue is crystallizing and the amount of activity, pushback and the amount of Israelis who are going to sort of like get off the fence about the religious status quo, I think we’re going to see this is an important moment for building the movement in Israel. And the question for us is what can we do here? We can support specific Israelis that are doing good things there. Supporting Israel means who are you going to support in Israel? Which Israelis? Are you going to put your money behind, your support behind, your voice behind? Every Jewish charity has always picked somewhere that its money goes. So, we should be asking where is the money going? Where is Canadian Jewish philanthropy focused and where will it be focused in, say, the next 5-10, 20 years? Will it be going to help strengthen the democratic core of Israel or are we going to see more of what we’ve seen now

Ellin: And again? We have a couple of days and it may all fall apart!

Ben: From your lips to God’s ears.

Ellin So have a happy Hanukkah, safe trip in Israel and thank you again for bringing these important points to the CJN Daily audience.

Guests: Pleasure been a pleasure. Thank you. Nice to meet all of you. Thank you.

Ellin: And that’s what Jewish Canada sounds like for this episode of the CJN Daily, sponsored by Metropia Integrity, Community Quality and Customer Care. Today’s listener shout out goes to Ricky Slipkoff of Toronto. And don’t miss tomorrow’s show. It’s about a Canadian menorah maker who has never lit Hanukkah candles. Thanks for listening.

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The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.