Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Progressives in the US need to understand that the Palestinians are oppressed by Palestinians'


Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan

With the enormous media pressure facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government over the proposed judicial reform, new Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan has her hands full.

The proposed overhaul of the judiciary has set off a political firestorm and prompted protests in Tel Aviv and elsewhere. 

There is intellectual degeneration and ignorance on the Left, Distel Atbaryan, who spent part of her life working in left-wing institutions, notes. The "masses" are protesting, completely convinced that democracy is dying, but they have not checked how the judiciaries work in other countries, compared to Israel, and how judges are appointed elsewhere. 

A simple 10-minute explanation of how the balance between the legislative executive and judicial has been violated in Israel for the past 30 years immediately disproves their claims, she stresses. 

Q: If that is the case, why didn't the government lay the necessary groundwork ahead of the announcement? Perhaps some of the reactions could have been prevented. 

"We thought the ground was ready as the Right had spoken of nothing but the need for a judicial reform for the past five years. The discussions did not focus on the two-state solution, nor the Palestinians, but on the reform. From the moment the elite resorted to incriminating someone who is innocent, it was a mistake to their detriment, because what was under the surface was revealed by the Netanyahu trial. 

"And if you look at social media, you will see that was the burning issue. Looking back, there is an error of perspective here, which stems from the fact that we did not take into account that there were many centrists in Israel who were unaware of the discourse. And the Left, which buys ink by the barrels, reached them before us. If I tweet, I will reach a maximum of 20,000 Israelis out of a population of 9 million. When it comes to public opinion, the Left wins. And former and current leaders of the judicial system joining the protests is actually a good thing because the truth has surfaced: that it is ultimately a war of the privileged against those who have been left behind and stepped on for years."

Q: So what part of the announced reforms is going to ultimately pass? 

"All of it. The opposition does not reflect the public, but only the privileged. Let there be no mistake: We are the ones in the right; the ones with the truly liberal values, and it's not just about bridging the gap."

Q: Another government initiative that faces strong opposition is disbanding the Kann public broadcaster. Why not propose reform – rather than shutting down – in this case as well? 

"Kann is an important resource, but there is an unfortunate element to it. Its documentaries, comedies, and other works are excellent, and I myself am a fan. In fact, I worked for the company and I know that their quality control is excellent and the employees are professional. But there is also discrimination."

Q: What do you mean? 

"Kann prides itself on diversity, but I myself have been told when working there that 'Netanyahu supporters will not have a voice here.' The last time I checked, Netanyahu supporters made up half the country. "

Q: So how will its closing help? 

"The move will bring populism, appeal to ordinary Israelis, and a free market and will open up regulations and concessions. And the people who oppose it now are good and dear people with whom I interact, but right now they are unable to listen."

Q: But as of now, there is no possibility to open another channel, much less a right-wing one. 

"Well, if Channel 14 News, which identifies as right-wing, reaches a 30% rating, half of Netanyahu's opponents will become his supporters. But it just doesn't have the budget for it. I used to work at Channel 13 News, which is problematic, and Channel 14 News

at the same time. I can say that Channel 14 News' entire weekly budget was what Channel 13 News spent on breakfast."

Q: Then why don't you and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi go instead to the people who run Kann and demand diversity? 

"It was already tried in the past, including when I worked there. When there was oversight, there were changes, but as soon as the oversight ceased, it went back to its old ways. Why would it be different this time?"

The appointment of Distel Atbaryan, one of few female members of the Netanyahu government, was a long and tumultuous road. She was first expected to be appointed deputy minister, then a minister at the Prime Minister's Office, and only later was announced to have received the public diplomacy portfolio. Despite being new to politics, during the Likud primaries for the Knesset candidate list she ended up high up, reaching the 10th slot. 

"I did really well in the primaries, she said. "I am the first in the history of the Likud to have succeeded in the primaries after Netanyahu's list was finalized. Usually, people crash. I only had a year and a bit to prove myself, and yet I got a good place on the list that had no earmarked slots, neither regional nor national."

Q: You are becoming the most powerful woman of the Likud. 

"For many years now, I have been writing opinion pieces and over time, tens of thousands of people felt that they had a voice, and I translated that voice to the electorate."

Q: Why do you think there aren't more women in the new government? 

"This time, the Likud decided to adopt part of former Transportation Minister and Labor chief Merav Michaeli's method and earmark places for women in the party. But all it did was create camps, remove free choice – regardless of gender – and turn women against women. As usual, identity politics only made things worse, rather than helping. Otherwise, some excellent women would have made it in. And in general, perhaps instead of hyper-focusing on the number of women in the government, we should look at how many Israelis of Sephardi origin are on the Supreme Court."

Q: And how do you plan to run the Public Diplomacy Ministry?

"I see the Public Diplomacy Ministry as a chocolate factory for everyone involved. I will produce content both for Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli's war against the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement and for Ron Dermer for his campaigns in the Strategic Affairs Ministry. 

"In addition, there are about 2,000 civil public diplomacy groups in Israel and the world that are not in contact with each other, and we need to create a uniform language. The Public Diplomacy Ministry will be the connecting thread. I'm recruiting the best Israeli minds to build a factory that takes people from the national service and schools and produces a headquarters with TikTokers and Instagramers in Israel and around the world."

Distel Atbaryan is the fourth lawmaker – and first woman – to head an independent Public Diplomacy Ministry. Back when it was part of the Foreign Ministry, it was also headed by such famous figures as Aharon Yariv, Shimon Peres, and Yisrael Galili. Today, it works closely with the Strategic Affairs and Diaspora Affairs ministries. 

Traditionally, prime ministers preferred to keep the Public Diplomacy Ministry part of the Foreign Affairs or Strategic Affairs ministries. During the Bennett-Lapid government, for example, it was not independent. As such, certain aspects of it are yet to be organized, even such basics as office space. 

Q: How will public diplomacy be different from what we've known until now? 

"I will not be trying to sell the idea of "fun Israel" with sunny beaches or a place where cherry tomatoes and thumb drives came from because when selling such "goods," the world hits back with accusations of occupation and enjoyment at the expense of another nation. 

"Public diplomacy is supposed to be the exact opposite: first of all, to explain that this is our home, that the Arabs of the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria succeeded in creating a false narrative. There are people today who have made conservatism sexy, like Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and others. The pro-Israel and pro-Zionist sentiment is huge. When they do a podcast, a million people listen. Young people, in particular, crave knowledge. 

"Hasbara, as public diplomacy is known in Hebrew, is – first and foremost – a battle against ignorance, because many people in the world have no idea what is happening here and how Palestinian leaders treat their people. I want progressive students in the United States to understand that if they support LGBTQ and women's rights, then their support for the Palestinians is contradictory. I want them to know that the Palestinians are only oppressed by Palestinians."

Q: What would you say is the hardest part of public diplomacy? 

"Accusations by our best journalists and politicians that Israel has apartheid policies and is committing genocide against the Palestinian people. Claims that Israeli democracy is coming to an end. The situation is much more complex because not only am I dealing with antisemitism from the outside but rejectionism on the inside. 

"Take the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, for instance. It informs us of strikes and bombings, but the Public Diplomacy Ministry is the one that has to fill in the gaps: that these are terror targets and that Israel is never the oppressor, but extends its hand in peace, from the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan until the 2000s." 

Distel Atbaryan is also planning to focus on Israel's ties with other nations. 

She explained, "Israel's foreign affairs deteriorated during the premiership of Yair Lapid. Look at the harming of ties with Poland."

"Look at the situation with Russia and Ukraine. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thought of mediating and ruined things with both Moscow and Kyiv. The United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and other countries of the Abraham Accords, on the other hand, support Netanyahu and are happy with the economic and social cooperation with Israel. 

"When there is a reality of prosperous agreements, there is no need for forced explanation. I recommend to Israelis whose confidence in their country has dropped travel to Dubai or certain cities in the US and say that they are from Israel. They will be welcomed with open arms and told that they love the IDF and Netanyahu." 

Q: You asked the prime minister to establish a war room to help pass the judicial reform. How will that work? 

"I have no interest in acting as a spokeswoman for the government, on the contrary. The reform comes to create transparency. I want to present the systems of other countries versus the ones in Israel. To create digital public discussions. I want to do away with the propaganda, not create it."

Q: In your opinion, what is the essence of the reform? 

"That the voter decides what his or her life will look like, because nine million Israelis know better what's best for them, and not a panel of nine judges."


Garnel Ironheart said...

The problem isn't what's being done but who's doing it. Everyone knows the urgency of judicial reform is to keep Bibi out of jail.

Dusiznies said...

I don't understand your comment "urgency?"
This corrupt Supreme Court whose justices are appointed by themselves and whose majority are blood related have been in power for much too long. There isn't a country in the entire world where the Justices are appointed by themselves! And the right has been running on this "Judicial Reform" for over a decade. They ran on this premise and were elected by a majority of the Israeli population. The lefts' mob funded by Leftist US NGOs want to overturn the democratically elected government. They should get over it.
And if this reform keeps Bibi out of jail, so be it!