Juan Cole – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Wed, 07 Dec 2022 06:29:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.8 U.S. State Department Slams Al Jazeera for taking Israeli Assassination of Abu Akleh to Int’l Criminal Court, though US asked Court to Investigate Russia https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/department-assassination-investigate.html https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/department-assassination-investigate.html#respond Wed, 07 Dec 2022 06:25:48 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208646 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Qatar-based satellite news channel Al Jazeera has referred the case of one of its slain reporters, Shireen Abu Akleh –an American citizen — to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Ms. Abu Akleh, who had reported from Israel and Palestine for over twenty years for Al Jazeera, was shot in the head just under her helmet on May 11 last spring by an Israeli sniper even though she was wearing a vest clearly marked “Press” and had identified herself to the nearby Israeli army unit.

Ms. Abu Akleh’s killing has become a cause célèbre in the Arab and Muslim worlds. At the soccer World Cup on Tuesday, when Morocco beat Spain, Moroccan fans in the stands in Doha, Qatar, held up Palestinian flags and posters of Shireen Abu Akleh. The victorious Moroccan team also unfurled a Palestinian flag to celebrate their win. FIFA, the governing authority of the games, had banned such displays and threatened expulsion from the games.

The US State Department opposed this step by Al Jazeera. The US State Department typically runs interference for Israel, shielding it from any accountability. Secretary of State Antony Blinken even said business would go on as usual with the new extremist Israeli government.

The US hypocrisy is glaring, since Washington has urged the International Criminal Court to try Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. This step is hypocritical because the US refuses to sign the Rome Statute itself and has tried to bully the ICC into dropping an investigation of US soldiers serving in Afghanistan, not to mention that Washington never ever wants any Israeli officials tried for war crimes.

Israeli cabinet minister Avigdor Lieberman responded by saying that Al Jazeera’s press credentials should be revoked. The far-right extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir demanded that Al Jazeera simply be expelled from Israeli-held territory. So much for democracy.

The Al Frazer network said in a press release that this step comes after its legal research team discovered new evidence demonstrating that Abu Akleh and her five colleagues — all reporting for Al Jazeera from Jenin in the Palestinian West Bank — were targeted by direct fire from the Israeli army, and that the Israeli claim that she was accidentally shot during an exchange of fire with militants in the area is baseless. The network alleges that the killing of Abu Akleh was premeditated and was among a number of punitive stps taken by the Israeli government to silence the satellite channel.

The U.S. Department of Justice has instructed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open an inquiry into Ms. Abu Akleh’s killing, a move that the Israeli government has roundly denounced. Since she was an American citizen, it seems the least Washington could do, but the move appears to have been opposed by the State Department.

The Israeli authorities have declined to launch their own inquiry into the sniper who killed Shireen, saying that the killing was inadvertent and that the sniper is innocent. Since Israeli military inquiries into actions taken in the Palestinian West Bank almost always produce a whitewash, I suppose they saved themselves some time and money by skipping the investigation and going straight to the “innocent” verdict.

Shireen’s niece, Lina Abu Akleh, pointed out that Israel has a history of targeting journalists to silence them from uttering the truth, and had nevertheless managed to avoid ever being held accountable. She said that now is the time to hold Israel accountable.

The judges of the International Criminal Court function under the Rome Statute (1998-2002), which has been signed by 123 countries. The Statute incorporates several international law instruments, including the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of persons in Occupied territories. The ICC does not judge countries but rather individuals who have responsibility for violating human rights. Some of those tried int he past twenty years have been deposed African dictators. The ICC ordinarily only has jurisdiction in countries that have signed the Rome Statute. The Palestine Authority sought and gained non-state observer status and the UN, which allowed it to sign the Rome Statute. In the wake of that step, the ICC reviewed the situation and has concluded that it has jurisdiction in occupied Palestine because the Palestine Authority is the recognized authority in these territories
The ICC is studying potential war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, both by the Israeli military and by the fundamentalist Hamas Party of Gaza.

It is not clear whether the judges at the ICC will take the case.

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In Escalation, Iranians in 23 Provinces join in National Strike, as Truckers, Shopkeepers Walk Out https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/escalation-provinces-shopkeepers.html https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/escalation-provinces-shopkeepers.html#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2022 06:46:18 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208625 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Protesters in Iran, including political prisoners had called for three days of national strikes beginning Sunday, and if reports and videos posted to social media can be believed, there was substantial buy-in to the strike, as shopkeepers closed their establishments and workers in key industries stayed home. So report Patrick Wintour and Maryam Foumani at The Guardian.

BBC Monitoring concluded after reviewing the relevant postings and videos that strikes were launched in 23 of Iran’s 31 provinces. Monday also saw a string of small demonstrations in various parts of Tehran and some 14 cities around the country.

Although major Persian cities saw strikes and rallies, the strike seems to have been especially effective in Iranian Kurdistan, where Hengaw reported that 29 cities in four Kurdish provinces were on strike. Mahsa “Zhina” Amini, the young woman whose death in the custody of the morals police provoked this fall’s demonstrations, was a Kurdish Iranian.

BBC Monitoring notes that in Isfahan, the country’s third most populous city and an important trade and industrial center, the workers at the Diziche Cement Co. staged a walk-out and gathered in the street, according to video posted at Telegram.

Likewise, Atena Daemi tweeted, “Today, Azar 14, in addition to the strike of marketers and businessmen in more than 40 cities, the contract workers of the Mahshahr Petrochemical Terminals and Tanks Company are also on strike for the second day.”

Mahshahr is a Gulf port city in the southern Khuzistan Province. It was the site of a regime massacre of protesters against high fuel costs in 2019.

This is not the first time we’ve see workers in the hydrocarbon industries strike in sympathy with the wave of protests led by young women this fall, but it is always significant in a country like Iran, where those industries are central to funding the state, when they do strike.

BBC Monitoring also notes that truck drivers, who had begun a ten-day strike, were still out on a work stoppage on Sunday and Monday, which overlapped with days 9 and 10 of their ongoing strike.

Truck driver strikes are particularly damaging to an economy, and have been used effectively by French workers, for instance, to obstruct any Neoliberal move toward cutting benefits or salaries for workers. They are likely to be just as effective in Iran, and alongside petrochemical workers, the truck drivers are probably among the best allies the demonstrators could have.

If it is true, moreover, that large numbers of shopkeepers joined in, that is another reason for the Iranian government to fear the staying power of these protests.

The announcement by Iran’s attorney general that the country would abolish the morals police may have been a trial balloon to see whether this step would help tamp down the protests. There is no evidence of the morals police having actually been decommissioned.

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Spike in Extrajudicial Executions by Israeli Police of Palestinian Youth https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/extrajudicial-executions-palestinian.html https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/extrajudicial-executions-palestinian.html#respond Mon, 05 Dec 2022 06:35:58 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208603 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The European Union has expressed its profound concern about the rash of extra-judicial killings by Israel of Palestinian young men, with ten having been killed recently. This year alone, some 207 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. The new extremist government of Binyamin Netanyahu and his fascist partners in ‘Religious Zionism’ is suspected of having more Palestinians killed since October. Although a ‘shoot to kill policy’ has been on the books for many years, Some observers fear that the new far right government may be resorting to it more often.

A case in point is the execution by a policeman of a young man in the Palestinian hamlet of Hawwara

Al Jazeera English: “Israeli police accused of ‘executing’ Palestinian in West Bank”

Israeli security forces and police often allege that the victims of their police brutality had been involved in a violent attack, in this case allegedly with a knife. Unfortunately for these Israeli security personnel, that doesn’t actually allow a person to shoot someone who has been subdued on the ground and is helpless. That action is a war crime.

Moreover, in the case of Nabil Naasan, for example, charges laid against him of being involved in throwing molotov cocktails before he was shot down have been falsified. Video exonerates him from that charge, however, though too late to save his life.

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52% of S. Dakota’s Electricity comes from Wind Power and other Green Energy Triumphs even in Red States https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/dakotas-electricity-triumphs.html https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/dakotas-electricity-triumphs.html#respond Sun, 04 Dec 2022 08:18:54 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208579 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – About 10% of the electricity generated in the US comes from wind installations. It isn’t nearly enough, either to fight the climate crisis or just to improve people’s health. It has now become clear that the people who get lung cancer but do not smoke are living near coal-fired power plants. Now a study has shown that “the health advantages of wind energy could more than quadruple if operators prioritized reducing the output of the dirtiest fossil fuel-based power plants when wind energy is available.”

Although public health and combating climate change are admirable goals, the bottom line often counts more. Thus, Allianz is finally closing a large coal-fired plant in Iowa, but the reason is that wind power in Iowa is just cheaper for consumers.

Still, there is some good news. Factories fueled by clean energy and the jobs that both create are changing the minds of some Republicans who had opposed green energy, as in Dalton, Georgia.

Via Pixabay. File.

Joshua Haiar at Argus reports that last year 52% of South Dakota’s electricity was produced by the state’s wind turbines. South Dakota has become an exporter of electricity to other states, since it produces twice as much electricity as its uses.. More electricity is now produced by wind than by hydroelectricity in the state.

Last month, Montana’s largest wind farm, with a nameplate capacity of 750 megawatts — nearly equal to a small nuclear power plant — went on line and began generating electricity for neighboring Washington State.

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Israel: Defying Biden, Netanyahu allows extremist Religious Zionists to rule over West Bank Palestinians https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/netanyahu-extremist-palestinians.html https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/netanyahu-extremist-palestinians.html#respond Sat, 03 Dec 2022 07:03:42 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208553 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Israeli newspaper Arab 48 reports that that Binyamin Netanyahu’s far right Likud Party concluded a coalition agreement with the extremist right-wing Religious Zionism bloc on Thursday, defying the warnings by the Biden administration that unilateral Israeli steps in the Palestinian West Bank would harm security between Washington and Tel Aviv.

The agreement specifies that the Religious Zionism bloc head Bezalel Smotrich would be a minister in the Ministry of Security, responsible for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which had until now reported to the Israeli military. Smotrich has said he wants to make Israel a theocratic state, and he or members of his party advocate expulsion of “disloyal” Palestinians and easing the rules of engagement for Israeli army troops so that they can simply shoot down defiant Palestinians throwing stones.

This step will imperil the relationship of the Netanyahu government with the international community, especially the United States and the European Union, as the Israeli press admitted.

The US and the EU have extensive contacts with COGAT, especially in Area C, which Israel rules directly. COGAT sets rules for and oversees Palestinians in the West Bank, but also provides administrative support to Israeli squatters on Palestinian land. Somtrich’s Religious Zionism bloc openly despises Palestinians and champions the squatter movement of Israelis who encroach on Palestinian property, encouraging them to expand their squatter-settlements and to steal more Palestinian land.

Smotrich will appoint the new Security Ministry minister in charge of COGAT, and so his party official will now be the point person for the US and the EU in their quest to improve the welfare of the Palestinians, which is guaranteed to lead to explosive tensions.

Smotrich’s appointee can be depended on to increase the number of Israeli squatters while strangling planning and construction in Palestinian townships in Area C. He will likely also order the demolition of many Palestinian homes and buildings in Area C on the grounds that they were not properly permitted through the Israeli administration, and will likely refuse to grant Palestinians new building permits. He will also likely begin the process of annexing Israeli squatter settlements to Israel proper.

One Israeli general called these administrative changes “the most dramatic change in the West Bank since 1967.”

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Yemen: Ukraine War, boosting Wheat Prices, has increased Food Insecurity and Acute Malnutrition for Children https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/increased-insecurity-malnutrition.html https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/increased-insecurity-malnutrition.html#respond Fri, 02 Dec 2022 07:33:48 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208543 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Russia’s War on Ukraine has added to global inflation along many dimensions, including higher gasoline and fossil gas prices. It has also affected the price of wheat, since Ukraine and Russia used to be responsible for 9% and 19% of global wheat exports. Although wheat shortages of the magnitude that some economists warned about last March have not materialized, the price of wheat is nevertheless higher. In July 2021, wheat went for $6.26 per bushel. In summer 2022, it ranged from $8.65 to $9.55 per bushel – a 30% to 35% increase.

The other thing you need to know is that most famines are not caused by a complete lack of food. They are caused by the price of the food rising beyond the means of some proportion of the population to pay for it.

Yemen imports 90% of its staple foods, and 57% of such food imports are in the form of wheat. In 2021, 40% of Yemen’s wheat imports came from Russia and Ukraine.

This year, Yemen has maintained its imports of wheat by going to other countries, including India and Australia. They have been able to replace a lot of the wheat they lost to the Ukraine War. In summer 2022, wheat prices spiked 35% in Yemen.

A big problem in Yemen is that its major ports of Aden and Hodeida only have warehouses capable of storing 20% of the country’s wheat needs. The other 80% has to be imported constantly and so is vulnerable to volatile prices.

About 3.5 million women and children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition. Another 19 million Yemenis are food insecure, meaning that they are not malnourished but they are only one step away from being malnourished.

The World Food Program aims to support 13 million Yemenis, the most vulnerable, out of 29 million Yemenis. It focuses on the poorest 13 million, giving emergency food assistance in 2022. The World Food Program had to reduce the amount of food it distributes because of the rise in the price of wheat and other grains. WFP can now only afford to give out 60% of the food basket portions it had earlier provided

Some of the shortfall from Ukraine was made up from other suppliers. But one of them, India, has now banned further exports of local grain to make sure Indians are fed first.

So, no, the shortfall in Russian and Ukrainian wheat did not cause an absolute lack of wheat. It did cause wheat to be more expensive, and for aid agencies to cut back because of budgetary reasons on how much wheat they could give to the poor.

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The Pakistani Mega-Flood and our Climate Emergency https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/pakistani-climate-emergency.html Thu, 01 Dec 2022 05:10:17 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208484 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Here is a talk I recently gave about the mega-flood this fall in Pakistan, which affected 33 million people, inundated a third of the country at one point, and caused between $15 billion and $30 billion in damages, including to crops and food supplies at a time when the Ukraine War has already increased global food insecurity. The video and the powerpoint slides are below.

I had written about this catastrophe, “The massive monsoon floods that affected 33 million people in Pakistan, destroyed 1.3 million homes, turned the southern province of Sindh temporarily into a new inland sea nearly 70 miles across, and killed off 80% of the country’s livestock was in part fueled by the human-caused climate emergency. So argues a new paper by Friederike E. L. Otto et al., “Climate change likely increased extreme monsoon rainfall, flooding highly vulnerable communities in Pakistan,” is up at World Weather Attribution.

Some 45% of the cotton crop has been lost, along with billions of dollars in food crops, raising the specter of widespread starvation. $30 billion in damage has been done. 11 million people in Pakistan are newly food insecure.

Climate scientists are very careful about attribution. But these scientists wrote, “we found that the 5-day maximum rainfall over the provinces Sindh and Balochistan is now about 75% more intense than it would have been had the climate not warmed by 1.2C, whereas the 60-day rain across the basin is now about 50% more intense, meaning rainfall this heavy is now more likely to happen.”

The heating of the surface temperature of the earth to 2.16 degrees F. above preindustrial norms has been caused by burning coal, petroleum and fossil gas, which sends heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Pakistan is only responsible for about 1% of that carbon dioxide, and historically the bulk of it was put into the atmosphere by the United States, Britain and other early-industrializing states. Pakistan is nevertheless stuck with the bill for this orgy of greenhouse gas production. That imbalance has led to calls for debt relief and even reparations for the disaster-struck country.

The scientists are confident that the maximum five-day rainfall during Pakistan’s monsoon has been turbocharged by heating up the earth and its oceans.

They note, “The record rainfall that fell between 1st-31st August over Sindh and Balochistan were 726% and 590% of the usual totals for August in the respective regions … Pakistan as a whole received 243% more rainfall than usual during this period.”

So here is the talk:

IAGD Masjid: “Climate Change and its impact on Pakistan | Professor Juan Cole”

And here are some slides:

It isn’t Enough that Oath Keepers were Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy: Trump must be, Too https://www.juancole.com/2022/11/convicted-seditious-conspiracy.html Wed, 30 Nov 2022 06:47:04 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208507 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Ryan Lucas and Carrie Johnson at NPR report that on Tuesday, a jury convicted five leaders of the fascist Oath Keepers militia of “obstructing an official proceeding” by being involved in the invasion of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to keep Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden as president. In addition, two of the leaders, Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes and Kelly Megs, were convicted of seditious conspiracy. The jury deliberated for three days.

The two are the first individuals to be found guilty of seditious conspiracy since the al-Qaeda operatives who were convicted of the first bombing of the 1993 World Trade Center. Given that the Oath Keepers are just Vanilla al-Qaeda, the parallel is fitting. The other three, Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell, had been charged with seditious conspiracy as well, but the jury acquitted them on that weighty charge. The main evidence against the five defendants consisted of their own text messages, which laid out their plans to find a way to obstruct the transfer of power from Donald Trump to President Biden.

After the insurrection failed, Rhodes was secretly recorded saying that the Oath Keepers “should have brought rifles . . . We should have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang (expletive) Pelosi from the lamppost.” The group had stockpiled weapons and ammunition at a motel across the river in Virginia with a “Quick Reaction Force,” at the ready if Trump called upon them to act. He never made any such explicit statement.

These far right extremists and some 95 others gathered in Washington, D.C. that day at the request of Trump, and they believed, according to Laura Italiano at Business Insider, that he would deputize and “federalize” them to stop Biden’s certification. They believed that the president had the authority to call forth a militia according to the 1792 Insurrection Act. Constitutional scholars disagree.

The Oath Keeper leaders did not just make up this expectation of being deputized. Trump had told the Proud Boys, another far right militia, “stand back and stand by,” giving these self-appointed paramilitaries the impression that he was willing to put them to use when the time was right. Otherwise, why should they “stand by?”

The conviction of Rhodes and Kelly is a great but minor triumph for democracy. What would be a major such triumph?

The conviction of Donald Trump on these same charges. This is the Trump who addressed the crowd in Washington on Jan. 6 and said, “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,”

Tom Dreisbach at NPR observed that Trump had ignited the fire on December 19 with a tweet, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. . . . Big protest in D.C. on January 6th . . . Be there, will be wild!” Kelly Megs, the just-convicted seditious conspirator, reacted gleefully,

Meggs responded on Facebook, recognizing a call to insurrection when he saw one, “”Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your s***!!”

The Oath Keepers are dangerous extremists and gun nuts, but they don’t give evidence of wanting to act autonomously. They yearned for a leader, for a president who would give them marching orders and deputize their militia for the, as they saw it, protection of America.

If they are guilty of seditious conspiracy, Trump is more so, and justice won’t be done until he is in the slammer for it.

I wrote when Rhodes and his stooges were first indicted of the Oath Keepers and all the ways it resembled al-Qaeda:

The group was founded in 2009 in the wake of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency and comprises far right-wing conspiracy theorists. It is led by the terrifyingly looney Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes. The Southern Poverty Law Center writes, “In 2014, Rhodes claimed the group had an unlikely 35,000 dues-paying members who are said to be mostly, although not exclusively, current and former military, law enforcement and emergency first responders.” Some Oath Keepers hold, or are running for, elective office.

Leader Rhodes said things after Biden’s win like “This is a military invasion by the cartels and a political coup by the domestic Marxist controlled left, which sees open borders and mass-illegal invasion as their ticket to permanent illegitimate political power . . .”

The DOJ Indictment alleged that

    “Rhodes and certain co-conspirators, to include selected regional leaders, planned to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power by January 20, 2021, which included multiple ways to deploy force. They coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington, D.C., equipped themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were prepared to answer Rhodes’s call to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction. Som co-conspirators also amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., distributed them among “quick reaction force (“QRF”) teams, and planned to use firerms in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”

… The DOJ complaint says that the insurrectionists invaded the outer part of the Capitol at 2 pm on Jan. 6, and that “at that time, Rhodes entered the restricted area of the Capitol grounds and directed his followers to meet him at the Capitol.”

Then Oath Keeper fascist brown shirts marched up the east steps of the Capitol in “stack” formation. Stack One joined an angry mob, some of whom assaulted police officers shouting “take their shields” and “Our house!” At 2:38, the indictment says, the doors were breached and Stack One advanced into the Capitol with the crowd. Stack One then split up, one group heading for the Senate Chamber, where they ran up against stiff resistance from the Capitol police. Unable to break into the Senate, they regrouped and left the building. The other half of Stack One attempted to find Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives, but failed to do so and left.

Another formation of Oath Keepers constituted Stack Two and forced their way into the Rotunda. They again ran into a forceful response from the police.

Still others were waiting outside Washington, DC, having formed Quick Reaction Force teams.

Israel: Netanyahu puts Homophobic Fundamentalist who doesn’t think most American Jews are Jewish in Charge of Office of Jewish Identity https://www.juancole.com/2022/11/netanyahu-homophobic-fundamentalist.html Tue, 29 Nov 2022 06:57:04 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208462 Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – So Noam is a far right Jewish fundamentalist party in Israel that has a connection to the Har Hamor seminary in Jerusalem. One of its leaders is Rabbi Zvi Tau, who seems to have a conspiracy theory that LGBTQ groups have prevented Israelis from implementing Jewish law, the Halakha. He and other leaders of the Noam Party see Israeli toleration for gay and trans people as a falling away from true Judaism. This tolerance is an “attack” they say, on Israeli “values.”

The Associated Press reports that incoming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of the far right Likud Party has done a deal with the chairman of the far, far right extremist Noam Party, Avi Maoz. In return for Noam’s support for Netanyahu in parliament, Maoz, a squatter on Palestinian land in the West Bank, was named a deputy minister in the cabinet. One of his portfolios is the reinforcement of Jewish identity for Israelis.

That’s right. The guy responsible for bolstering Jewish identity among Israelis is a flaming homophobe. Putting religious fundamentalists in charge of Jewish identity in Israel is most unfair, since only fifty percent of Israeli Jews say they are sure they believe in God. Some 23% are atheists or agnostics.

Maoz does not believe most American Jews are even Jews, since he does not recognize Reform and Conservative Judaism as legitimate. He not only wants to suppress LGBTQ people, he does not want Israelis of Palestinian heritage to be able to teach Jewish students in Israeli schools.

This is like Christian white nationalists saying they do not want Jews to teach Christian students in American schools.

Maoz also wants to curb women’s equality, keeping women from serving in the army.

Israel does not have gay marriage, but the state recognizes such marriages that have been contracted abroad. Some Israeli gay couples with children are apprehensive that Noam could seek to dissolve their marriages and take away their children. He says gay pride parades should be outlawed.

Maoz says he wants to “cancel” gender studies programs in Israeli education.

Whether gay couples will continue to have access to surrogacy services is also in question.

Some apologists for the extremist Religious Right in Israel point out that the previous government accepted as part of its coalition the Raam Party, Palestinian-Israelis who tilt to the Muslim Brotherhood and who are also homophobic. Raam, however, remained relatively marginalized in that center-right government and was not given oversight of Jewish identity, to say the least. It is just a silly whataboutism argument.

Since Maoz has a very narrow view of who a Jew is, there could be repercussions from his appointment for potential immigrants into Israel. He might not let in those whose mothers were not Jewish or who did not raise them in Orthodox Judaism, for instance. With the war in Ukraine, many persons who consider themselves Jews in the former Soviet bloc have been nervous and considering going to Israel. Now, they might not be welcome.