Kafe Knesset for August 9
Three cheers for Bibi: Thousands of Likudniks are expected to gather this evening in Tel Aviv for a mass rally and demonstration of support for Netanyahu. The rally was scheduled in the wake of all of the PM’s legal troubles and the Likud has been preparing quite a buildup for the event. Bibi himself is the keynote speaker and everyone is waiting for his speech, in which he is likely to address the latest developments in his investigations. A senior Likud figure told Kafe Knesset that he believes Netanyahu will be putting on quite a show. “It will be a declaration of war – on everyone – from the media to the Left – and even on law enforcement authorities.”
While the Likud has organized buses for the activists from around the country, a majority of the Likud’s ministers and MKs have made sure everyone knows they RSVPed “yes.” The event’s main organizer, coalition chairman David Bitan, has been aggressively urging them to attend in recent days. Bitan has been spreading unsubtle threats that the electorate will “take revenge” on anyone who does not back Netanyahu. Bitan’s threats, alongside considerable pressure from Bibi’s political aides, brought everyone in line, and even Israel Katz, one of Bibi’s political rivals in the party, made clear that he plans to be there. On the other hand, another rival, Gideon Sa’ar, also aspiring to replace Netanyahu in the future, will not attend the event because he is on his summer vacation abroad. Ministers Gilad Erdan, Yariv Levin and Gila Gamliel are also spending leisure time overseas and will be absent from the rally.
Bibi, who is expected to be accompanied by Sara, will be embraced with a whole lot of love and high energy. The Likud knows how to produce an effective rally and the event was wisely scheduled for the prime time TV news shows. Bibi’s message will definitely be heard. The main theme will be to reaffirm Bibi’s bold leadership of the country and is likely to include the well-known talking points that accuse the media and the Left of attempts to topple him with criminal procedures. That said, it remains to be seen how far Bibi intends to go and will he be lashing out at the Police and the Attorney General as well. The Likud’s bad boy, MK Oren Hazan, told a group of supporters this week that “if there is a stable that needs to be cleaned, because it is full of excrement, it is the State Prosecutor’s Office.” Bitan disavowed Hazan’s comments, but he did say that “there are very hard feelings in the Likud against the State Prosecutor, a deep feeling of unfairness.”
Not in the bag anymore? As if Netanyahu doesn’t have enough to worry about, senior United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni referred to an interesting letter in a talk to yeshiva students this week, according to a Walla! News report. Gafni recounted that Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach, who was the undisputed head of the Lithuanian Haredi community while he was alive, wrote a letter to former Prime Minister Menachem Begin while he was negotiating peace with Egypt that it is permissible to evacuate settlements for peace. “Concessions made only for peace are not considered concessions, and when God has mercy on us and the time comes, the ceded land will all be returned to us,” Rabbi Shach wrote. “According to Halacha, there is nothing preventing us from giving up part of the Land of Israel for peace, and according to history, we suffered more from European countries than Arab ones.” Haredi parties have long been reliable members of any right-wing government. Is Gafni hinting to Netanyahu that they aren’t his natural partners anymore anymore?
Historical precedent says otherwise. Rav Shach, as he is known in Israel, may have been fine with giving up settlements, but he was no fan of the Left. He passed up on the chance to have his party work with Shas and Shimon Peres’ Alignment (now Labor) to topple Yitzhak Shamir’s government. Rabbi Shach once delivered a famous speech in which he said that Labor doesn’t know what Yom Kippur is, and that the kibbutzim raise “hares and pigs” – meaning non-kosher animals. But then why would Gafni bring up the letter again?
Molad vs. Yair Netanyahu, round three: Progressive think-tank Molad is suing Yair Netanyahu for libel. The lawsuit is the result of rancorous Facebook posts in recent weeks. It all started with Dog-doo-gate, when Yair allegedly did not clean up after the First Dog, Kaiya. Yair gave a neighbor who said something about it the middle finger, and the neighbor wrote a Facebook post about it. When the post went viral, a Molad Facebook page piled on, pointing out that Yair, 26, is the first adult child of a Prime Minister to live in the official residence and be protected by a 24-hour government security detail. Molad also wrote about the freebies Yair has gotten from Aussie billionaire James Packer. Netanyahu Jr. responded with a harshly worded post, in which he called Molad “anti-Zionist,” and paid for by the “fund to destroy Israel,” an apparent reference to the New Israel Fund. Now Molad has slapped Netanyahu with an over NIS 140,000 lawsuit, saying they’re not anti-Zionist, and that Netanyahu is implying that they are enemies of the state.