Women? "Get married and have a lot of children for Israel’s sake.’ Arabs? ‘You are here by mistake because Ben Gurion did not get the job done.’ LGBTQ+? ‘Imagine if the disabled were to demand that everyone cut off their own leg.’ Reform Judaism? ‘There should be no room for a public space adapted to the Reform approach’. The Finance Minister of Israel, Bezalel Smotrich, has been talking a lot about ‘brotherly dialogue’ but a comprehensive survey of his positions, as expressed in interviews, articles and social media, paints a picture that is far from reflecting any kind of faith in dialogue
Revealing Minister Levin's Extensive Engagements Amidst the Reform Agenda. Eighteen long meetings with Simcha Rotman, the head of the Knesset’s Constitution Committee; several meetings with members of the Kohelet Policy Forum; briefings and interviews with right-wing media outlets; and a dozen meetings with the director of the Pardons Department in the Justice Ministry. In contrast, not one single meeting with the head of the Israel Bar Association, a handful of meetings with the attorney general and increasingly sporadic meetings with Israel’s chief justice.
With secularism and Zionism as the root of all evil, textbooks in ultra-Orthodox society are rewriting Israeli history so that it is harnessed to religious faith: The IDF won its wars thanks to ‘wonders and miracles, the second Intifada broke out because of civil weddings, and you can forget about asking where was God when the Holocaust had taken place. The Education Ministry isn’t even in the picture. Published also on Mako website (Hebrew), Followed by Kan Public Radio (Hebrew)
Senior civil servants are being kept in limbo, their contracts unrenewed. There is an atmosphere of ‘cleaning the stables’ and chasing out ‘leftists.’ And there’s been an 80 percent drop in legal memoranda and a 50 percent fall in government-sponsored legislation. Yariv Levin chose to serve as minister for judicial overhaul and not justice minister – and the legal system is paying the price. Since the start of the Netanyahu trial, there has also been a sharp decrease in corruption cases investigated because if you don’t investigate, you can’t get into trouble. A Shomrim report
Lawmakers who are in a conflict of interest can vote in the Knesset only if they make a due diligence statement about their case. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted on the legal overhaul without making such a statement. The speaker of the Knesset made a statement for the record, saying that “the attorney general claims that the PM is in conflict of interest.” Netanyahu has already signed a conflict-of-interest agreement on this very matter – and this is not a claim, it’s a fact. A Shomrim follow-up
Israeli headlines have been dominated by the proposed legal reform of Justice Minister Yariv Levin, but below the radar, buried deep in the coalition agreements, Likud has agreed with its partners to enact an equally dramatic revolution, which would split the Israeli judicial system and grant rabbinical courts the same powers as any other court. ‘You don’t need to be an expert to recognize that there’s more chance now of the legislation being passed.’ A special Shomrim report
If there is one place you could be forgiven for thinking would be immune to the symptoms of the Israel-Arab conflict, it would be the healthcare system. The struggle against the coronavirus pandemic even strengthened the sense of solidarity. But then came the 2021 war in Gaza, the riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities, and, most recently, the suspension of Dr. Ahmed Mahajana from Hadassah Hospital – all of which began to expose something that had been kept hidden for years. A special Shomrim/Calcalist report exposes the racism in hospitals: Not only between patients and medical teams but among the staff as well
No court order and no discussion in the hospital’s ethics panel; it now turns out that the genetic tests given to the parents of Sophia – the ‘disputed Assuta embryo’ – were improvised and misguided. Sheba in response: ‘A byproduct of the tests is genetic linking to the mother.’ Health Ministry: ‘All of the tests were done legally’
Opinion polls are predicting many floating voters in the ultra-Orthodox community will vote for the far-right Otzma Yehudit party reflecting the processes and changes that are taking place, deep below the surface, within ultra-Orthodox society. A combination of increased nationalism, anger at the leadership in the aftermath of the Meron disaster and their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as outrage over the exposure of sexual harassment scandals, is leading many Haredim to look for a political alternative to their aged representative in the Knesset. ‘The traditional Haredi issue is on the agenda in any case, and someone will take care of it,’ explains one ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemite. ‘I won’t vote for United Torah Judaism again; I’ll vote for someone else who has similar views to me – and that’s Ben-Gvir.’ A Shomrim analysis
The State Comptroller issued a dire caution, professionals in the field waved warning flags and MKs demanded answers. But the Education Ministry insists that high-school attrition is waning. Where does the discrepancy come from? The ministry is not considering the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic or hidden dropouts – children and youths who are registered at school in name alone. A special Shomrim report looks at the root causes of attrition, which is threatening the futures of tens of thousands of Israeli children and youths.
The Public Security Ministry has been boasting about a 20 percent drop in the number of Israelis with a firearms license over the past decade – but is only counting one of the two categories of permitholders. The ministry is even keeping the full figures from the Knesset’s Public Security Committee and its Research and Information Center. Various experts believe that the motivation behind this policy is a desire to hide the increase in the number of permits issued in Israel and the resultant spike in suicides and domestic violence. Shomrim has filed a freedom of information request. An exposé
Sapir Nahum, the 24-year-old Israeli woman whose body was recently discovered 11 days after she disappeared, is far from being a rare case. Shomrim has obtained the real figures regarding the number of missing persons in Israel: some 4,500 missing person files are opened every year, and close to 600 have remained open since the establishment of the state. Their families face complete chaos, with many descending into a financial tailspin and their bank accounts being foreclosed – but the bills and debts continue to mount up. The weakest sectors of society, who have no voice and resources, are helpless; the law does not provide any solution, and the State Comptroller has been asked to weigh in on the police's inadequate handling of the problem. A police response: "We see the issue as a mission.". A Shomrim investigation with Mako
Unbeknownst to many Israelis, an Interior Ministry committee has the authority to impose fines on mayors and civil servants who improperly use municipal taxes. However, a Shomrim investigation has found that there is no correlation between the extent of the waste and the severity of the fines – which, in any case, are often reduced or remain unpaid for years. Despite a scathing report by the state comptroller, nothing has changed.
The case of Eti Craif, who was appointed to serve as a judge on the Netanya Magistrate’s Court – despite not making the cut when she came up before the Judicial Training Committee – has shone a light on the path that people take before being appointed to the bench in Israel. In a special report, Shomrim reveals for the first time what goes on behind the appointment process: the trick questions, the behind-the-scenes pressure, the group dynamics and why are only one-third of the candidates Arabs? “Many people just don’t understand what’s wanted of them,” says one judge on the panel. Another senior lawyer assets that “Eti Craif is right when she says you need connections and acquaintances.”
The use of personal information stored on the cellphone of Nir Hefetz – as well as the phones of Yonatan Urich and Ofer Golan, two of Benjamin Netanyahu’s former aides – provide yet further proof of how legislation and rulings in Israel lag far behind technology. Whether or not it ends in a plea deal, the trial of the former prime minister shows that, when a court allows police to look on our computers and cellphones, it gives them carte blanche to pilfer whatever information they want. Moreover, the police often use that information far beyond the scope of their investigation. “This is a far greater violation of privacy than a wiretap or a physical search.” A Shomrim follow-up.
Maltreatment – including denying sleep, drugs and medical attention. Threatening to ‘drop a bombshell’ that will cause great distress to family members. Humiliation, lies and – incredibly – rats and fleas. The high-profile arrests of Nir Hefetz, Shaul Elovitch and Moshe Hogeg have shone a light on some of the methods police investigators in Israel use to extract confessions from suspects. Unless you happen to be the head of a crime family, in which case the officer will bring you coffee and cake. Where is the line between acceptable and unacceptable deception? In Israel, there is no line. Unlike the United States or the United Kingdom, there are no laws protecting suspects’ rights. A special Shomrim report.
We are constantly being filmed: On the beach in our swimsuits, at the gas station, on the road, and while we’re looking for a parking spot. Drones are photographing us from the skies and the lobby of every building now has closed-circuit cameras. Sometimes we know we’re being filmed, but most of the time we’re blissfully unaware. Citizens have barely any access to the filmed material or to the ever-growing databases that record where we’ve been and exactly when we were at any given moment. The public space has never been as exposed and every citizen is considered a suspect until proven otherwise.
After five months and despite an opposition boycott, the speaker of the Knesset has announced the establishment of the Knesset’s Ethics Committee and sent letters to MKs Gila Gamliel (Likud) and Yaakov Margi (Shas). They, however, continue to drag their feet. Could that be because, as long as the Ethics Committee doesn’t convene, Benjamin Netanyahu is free to continue raising as much money as he wants to fund his legal defense?