Major British Newspaper Warns: ‘Israel’s Greatest Threat Is From Within Its Own Ideological Divisions.’

The Economist, a major British newspaper, warned today that Israel’s greatest threat is from within its own ideological divisions. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Some 300,000 reservist soldiers, including many who before the war had been threatening to suspend their service in protest at the proposed constitutional changes, rushed to their units. Israelis seemed to set aside their differences; secular and religious volunteers came together to help families who had been displaced by the fighting.

But as the conflict has continued, the splits within the country have resurfaced. Support for the invasion of Gaza has not translated into support for the government. The disputes over the judicial system have been replaced by anger at the politicians who have catastrophically mishandled the war.

On Memorial Day, which falls the day before Israelis celebrate their independence, the country remembers fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks. This year government ministers were heckled at services of remembrance. Relatives of soldiers who have been killed in the war in Gaza walked out of Mr Netanyahu’s speech at the national cemetery. In his address Mr Herzog implored Israelis to allow “the tear in the heart of the people” to “heal the tear in the nation”. A year ago the president tried to use his position, above politics, to find a compromise over constitutional reform. He failed to reconcile Israel’s warring tribes then and seems likely to fail now.

According to one recent survey 62% of the country now thinks a temporary ceasefire agreement to release the surviving hostages in Gaza should take priority over another military push into Rafah. But Mr Netanyahu is reluctant. The hardliners in his cabinet are threatening to bring down the government if the war is paused.

Today, it is clear that even at the height of war, the greatest threats to Israel remain those within its own borders.’


“And the people will be oppressed,

Each one by another, and each one by his neighbor” — Isaiah 3:5


The only things stopping Israel from becoming the next Sanhedrin are the United States and Jewish moderates. One day, it will come to the point when America will wash its hands from the actions of Israel, and this will leave the moderates as the only bulwark against Israel becoming the courtroom that condemned Christ. These two camps the secularists and the religious fanatics, have two radically opposing visions for Israel, and if the latter are going to ever form their Talmudist theocracy, they are going to have to purge out the secularists and their influence. This struggle has manifested in the judicial overhaul agenda of the Israeli right; for by diminishing the leverage of Israel’s supreme court, the theocrats can push for the rules of rabbis through the Knesset without hinderance.

There is tremendous division within Israel, between the moderates and secularists on the one side, and the far-right and ultra-religious on the other. The former wants to keep Israel as a secular democracy. But if the latter gets what it wants, Israel will become a theocracy. But this is just putting things in formal terms. If the religious get what they really want, Israel will be transformed into the very type of Sanhedrin that crucified Christ. For decades, in the modern state of Israel, there has been a very active movement to undermine the supreme court in favor of religious law. One could have seen this in 1999, when Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (once the chief rabbi of Sephardic Jews) called the justices of Israel’s supreme court bo`alei nidot, meaning literally that “they are all [men who] have intercourse with menstruating women,” and therefore give birth to “sons born of uncleanness.”

The fanaticism is seen in the politicians for whom many Israelis have voted. One of the biggest have been Itamar ben-Gvir who the Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief, Yaakov Katz, described as  “a threat to the future of Israel’s fragile democratic character.” Ben-Gvir’s party is called Otzma Yehudit, which means “Jewish power” (the Jewish version of “white power”). In the 2022 election, Jewish Power joined forces with two other far-right Jewish parties, the Religious Zionist Party and Noam, and together they won 14 seats in the Knesset, making it the third largest political alliance in the parliament. One thing that truly shows how much might the far-right in Israel has, is the fact that they have dominated the coalition government with the Likud.  The Likud party is in an alliance with United Torah Judaism — an orthodox Jewish party —, Shas, a religious party representing Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews —,National Religious Party–Religious Zionism — a far-right religious party, Otzma Yehudit — a Kahanist, anti-Arab party —, and Noam — another far-right religious party. These parties are a leviathan, possessed by the spirit of that mob that called for the crucifixion of Christ. You can see this spirit, for example, in Otzma Yuhidit. A well known member of this party, Bentzi Gopstein, wants to burn down all Christian churches in Israel. During a panel discussion in 2015, a question was asked whether one of the speakers “is in favor of burning churches in the Land of Israel,” to which Gopstein said: “Did the Rambam rule to destroy [idol worship] or not? Idol worship must be destroyed. It’s simply yes – what’s the question?” When he was told that if the recording of the talk ever got to the police he would be arrested, Gopstein replied: “That’s the last thing that concerns me. If this is truth, I’m prepared to sit in jail 50 years for it.”

One can even find explicit nazism within the political circle of Gopstein and ben-Gvir. Chanamel Dorfman, the son-in-law of Gopstein and legal advisor for ben-Gvir, once said in a protest against African asylum seekers: “The only problem with the Nazis is that I was on the losing side”. In other words, the only problem that Dorfman has with the Nazis is that they killed Jews, but he doesn’t mind that they murdered other people.

In the past when ben-Gvir would do interviews from his home, he would proudly display a portrait of the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinians in a mosque in 1992. He stopped showing the portrait to better his image, but he still demands for the prohibition of Jewish-Arab intermarriage. There is another thing that he calls for that shows just how divided Israel is: ben-Gvir wants to expel Jews he considers enemies of Israel. For example, he called for the deportation of Israeli liberal politician Ofer Cassif who he accuses of actively working against the State of Israel.

Avi Maoz, the leader and sole Knesset member of the far-right Jewish party, Noam, wants for non-Orthodox sects of Judaism to be banned from worshiping in Ezrat Israel, the area to the south of the Western Wall prayer space that was chosen for egalitarian prayer in 2013. The ideological head for the Noam party, Rabbi Zvi Thau, has been influential in the inter-Jewish struggle between Orthodox and Reformed Jews. In a 2016 conference, in which Thau’s followers had a strong presence, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner affirmed that the growing numbers of the Reformed Jewish movement in Israel was really a good sign, because, as he said: “It’s the last heartbeats, the final spasms of the evil. They are frightened. We are heading for victory. In the country, too, there is more and more Torah. We are not in a position of weakness, we are in a position of strength, and we need to fight. Certainly to fight.”


The hatred between Reformed and Orthodox runs so deep that even an Orthodox rabbi having dialogue with the Reformed brings out the most vicious hatred. Thau’s gang boycotted rabbi like Eliezer Melamed, the religious-Zionist head of the Har Bracha Yeshiva in the West Bank, because he met with Reform Jews as part of an inter-religious dialogue. Rabbi Aviner stated, “Holding a panel discussion with the evil impulse so as to appear to be open? No. On the evil impulse, you open fire immediately. You don’t talk, you don’t discuss.” Just as, after the time of Christ, the Zealots butchered the Sadducees and Pharisees during the Roman-Jewish conflict, so the day will come when the Orthodox will shed the blood of the Reformed.

For the Orthodox, the war against the Reformed is the most important of all conflicts, because it is the war over the soul of Israel. For the Orthodox, a Jewish state means a country for the Jewish religion, governed by Jewish law, not a secular idea of a country for all Jews to live in. Thus, the winner of this war will determine which Israel will exist in the future. If the Orthodox win, then Israel will have its Jewish sharia, but if the Reformed, moderates and Leftists get what they want, then the Kosher state that the religious envision will not come to pass. As Avi Maoz put it:

“Our banner is the most important one. The primary struggle in the forthcoming election is the one and only question: whether the State of Israel will continue to be a Jewish state or, heaven forbid, will become a state of all its citizens [meaning a state in which all religions will have equal rights]. The left-wing camp wants a state of all its citizens. The Jewish-national camp, to which we belong, wants it to continue to be a Jewish state. The struggle for the essence, the identity, the soul, is the struggle of struggles, the banner of banners, it is the main thing… The unequivocal war against what is progressive and the war for Jewish identity, that is the principal banner. That has to be in the forefront of the struggle.”

This struggle has been going on for decades in Israel. In 1999, in a rally for religious diversity in Israel, Jewish Agency Chairman Avraham Burg declared: “There is a war in Israel. There is a cultural war…that will determine the life or death of democracy in Israel.” And even in the late 1990s, this struggle between the Jews was centered around the Supreme Court. In 1999, the rage was against the Israeli supreme court justice, Aharon Barak, who the orthodox Jews called “an enemy of the Jews” because he allowed for non-orthodox conversions to be registered and for conservative and Reform Jews to be seated on religious councils. Professor Shlomo Ben-Ami warned (also in 1999):

“The ties that hold Israel together as a united society have long been in a tragic process of disintegration. What we have here is not a society but cells inimical to one another in a state of potential civil war. Israel will not be able to stand this way before an enemy or confront the difficult challenge of peace…Years after the assassination [of Yitzhak Rabin] we have learned nothing and forgiven nothing; we are in exactly the same place. This is a nation that is not even capable of mourning together.”

In 1999, a Gallop Poll, done by the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, posed the question of whether the country was close to civil war. 56% of the respondents responded ‘yes.’ In that same year, the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research asked Israelis to rate what would most likely cause an outbreak in violence. 79% cited the relations between the secular and religious factions. In 1993, Elyakim Ha’etzni, a settler activist in the West Bank and a Knesset member for the now nonexistent right-wing Tehiya Party, signed an open letter exhorting soldiers and police officers to defy any orders to force out settlers from the West Bank.

The same letter warned that any giving up of territory to Palestinians would spark a civil war.

When we say that there may be a civil war in Israel in the future, there are those who would argue, “A Jew would not want kill a fellow Jew.” But this logic goes against the reality that when a Jew hates another Jew over a religious or political difference, he does not consider him to be a real Jew. Jews will even call each other “antisemites” in a political spat. After Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords in 1994, the ultra-Orthodox magazine, Hashavna (“The Week”), called Rabin an “anti-semite” and in 1995 the same publication went so far as to say that Rabin and Peres “are leading the state and its citizens to annihilation and must be placed before a firing squad”.

His Jewishness became so irrelevant to his haters that he was eventually assassinated by a fellow Jew.  A day before his murder, Asher Zuckerman, Hashavna’s publisher, wrote that “The day will come when the Israeli public will bring Rabin and Peres into court with the alternative being the gallows or the insane asylum. This nefarious duo has either lost its mind or is flagrantly treasonous.” In fact, a group of fanatical rabbis gave their blessing to whoever would kill Rabin, making it open season on the prime minister. They made reference to two precepts, din rodef (the obligation to slay a Jew who endangers the life or property of another Jew) and din moser (the obligation to kill a Jew who wants to turn another Jew in to nonJewish authorities). By signing the Oslo Accords and thus giving up land to the Palestinian Authority, the rabbis argued that Rabin had fit these descriptions.  Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, an Orthodox rabbi and West Bank settler, declared that, “Hundreds of people heard the word rodef in connection with the late prime minister months before and around the time of the murder. The fact that these discussions leaked out and inspired a heated public debate in the religious community turned the obsolete notions of rodef and moser into household words.” “If Rabin comes to visit Gush Etzion, I myself will climb on a roof and shoot him with a rifle,” boasted Rabbi Shmuel Dvir, a teacher in the Har Etzion Yeshiva in Gush Erzion. Even in the United States, hundreds of Orthodox rabbis signed a statement declaring that Rabin was indeed a moser and rodef. It is no wonder that when Yigal Amir assassinated Rabin, he was hailed as a hero.  A Jewish man in the ultra-Orthodox stronghold of Bnei Brak stood before TV cameras and declared: “There is no mourning here. Yitzhak Rabin was not one of us.”

Yigal Amir

Jews in the West Bank settlements of Tapuach and Yizhar hung pictures of Amir in celebration of him killing Rabin, a Jew; an assassination that they esteemed as a miracle. When the news of Rabin’s killing reached the large West Bank settlement of Ariel, people in a political rally stood up and clapped their hands in elation. Young men in the Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea in Jerusalem hugged one another upon hearing that Rabin had been killed. In the Jewish Orthodox study meeting at Bar-Ilan University, students called Amir “a saint.” The fanatics will praise the murder of a Jew who they despise, and the mass murderer of Arabs (Baruch Goldstein, who shot and killed 29 Arabs in a mosque), and what does this tell us? That the fanatical Jews will have no qualms killing both Arabs and Jews. As Rabbi Yehudah Amital once said:

“Political extremism has been dressed up as religion. Not only did the prime minister’s murderer come from among us, but Baruch Goldstein, the murderer in the Cave of the Patriarchs, did too. That the religious community brushed off that slaughter…shows that its moral sensibility is flawed…The decline began when the rabbis chose to turn a blind eye to the attacks on Arabs that eventually led to acts of murder…”

This was warned about in 2015 by Yuval Diskin, the 12th director for Israel’s Shin Bet:

“As the threat of people having to leave their homes increases, we’ll see more and more people, and not on the outskirts, supporting or joining actions which ultimately might lead to use of force — including against the army, including against the police — and this could also lead to another political murder. … There are situations in a people’s life where the option is either to split up — establishing the Kingdom of Judea and the Kingdom of Israel —or to go for a situation where one side enforces its opinion and defeats the other side fully and absolutely.” (Moreh, The Gatekeepers, p. 361)

This was affirmed back in 1986 by professor Ian S. Lustick when he warned that if a governing coalition party could be in the position to appeal to Arab demands, there would be a very violent reaction, not just against Arabs but other Jews:

“Even if a governing coalition could be formed of parties willing to accept an agreement based on the principle of territory for peace, the implementation of that policy would trigger intense and widespread opposition and pose real challenges to the parliamentary regime’s ability to sustain itself. … In Israel such a crisis would almost certainly involve repeated demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Jews, violence against both Jews and Arabs, challenges to the authority and legitimacy of the government, a host of rabbinical decrees opposing the government’s intentions, the creation of scores of new illegal settlements, threats of civil war, a sudden influx of militantly ultranationalist Diaspora Jews, and, as suggested above, attempts at spectacular actions such as the destruction of the Muslim shrines in Jerusalem.”

A potential cause for a civil war in Israel would be the utter diminishing of the supreme court. When, in March of 2023, Netanyahu pledged that he would be getting personally involved in the judicial overhaul, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called on the government to halt the judicial overhaul, warning that “the growing rift in our society is penetrating the IDF and security agencies,” which “poses a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to the security of the state.”

The country is not as united as some may think. In the months before the October 7th massacre, hundreds of thousands of Israelis were taking to the streets to call for Netanyahu and his Likud party to step down from government because of his judicial reform to make Israel’s supreme court less powerful than the Knesset (parliament). To give you more perspective on how huge these demonstrations were, 5% of Israel’s population took part in these mass protests. Ehud Barak, a former prime minister, encouraged Israelis to partake in civil disobedience if the judicial overhaul became law, while many military officers exclaimed that they would refuse to report for duty. The rage of the secularists remains in Israel even after the October 7th massacre. In December of 2023 reserve major general Yair Golan called for a revolution to overthrow Netanyahu and his government:

 “We must besiege the Knesset. A quarter of a million people, half a million people, a million people. We must paralyze this country. We must demand the sending home of this scoundrel who controls us as prime minister. …We must send all his dark ministers. These fools, these wretches, send them home immediately.”

The Israeli right has been growing tremendously in power, while the liberals have been weakening; and this can be seen in the fact that the left has not led the government since 2001. This can further be seen in the political climate: in the past Netanyahu was able to make alliances with the center, whereas in 2022 he was able to make a coalition only by allying with far-right and religious parties. The main target of Israel’s rightest radicals, institutionally speaking, is the supreme court. As in the US, Israel’s highest court has the final say so on laws, and can overturn the edicts of the Knesset. Thus, the supreme court is the biggest obstacle to the imposition of Jewish law, and to the transformation to the theocracy that many Jews envision. An example of this can be seen in the Israeli politician Bezalel Smotrich.

Bezalel Smotrich

In 2016, the Knesset  passed a bill allowing religious authorities to ban the use of public mikvahs (religious baths for ritual immersion) for converts to Reformed Judaism. The Supreme Court ruled against this bill. Smotrich stated he was “not willing to recognize Reform conversions and their fake religion”. The story denotes a dark reality within Israel: the country is viciously divided on religious and political grounds, and the place of this war is the supreme court. Smotrich and those like him represent this enormous movement that wants to usher in Jewish sharia law. He said in 2019 that “We want the justice portfolio because we want to restore the Torah justice system”, and that Israel should desire to govern itself as “in the days of King David”. In the same year Smotrich said: “We [Orthodox Jews] all would want the State of Israel to be run according to the Torah and Jewish law, it’s just that we can’t because there are people who think differently from us, and we have to get along with them.”

The number of Jews who believe as Smotrich does are growing in huge numbers, while the moderates are declining in numbers because of their low birth-rates. What happens when there are enough radicals? The moderates will be put in an existential crisis in which the Israel that they want to keep will be on the verge of being seized and turned into a theocracy. What happens when you have opposing factions that hold onto different worldviews that are violently against each other, and all of the proper channels have been exhausted? What is the end result, but bloodshed?

Patrick Kingsley, The Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, stated: “Ultra-Orthodox Jews and settler activists are taking advantage of the fact that they wield unprecedented power in Israeli society and government to try to unravel the influence of the court.” Moderates see the supreme court as the rampart against Jewish theocracy and thus the protection of democracy, while the rightists see it as a hinderance to the desires of the religious or nationalist people. The rightists argue that the supreme court striking down certain laws that it deems as against human rights, is an affront to democracy. Justice minister Yariv Levin complained: “we go to the polls, we vote, we choose, but time and again, people we did not choose decide for us . . . this is not democracy!” Meanwhile, the moderates argue that if the supreme court is diminished, then tyrannical laws will be voted in by right-wing members of the Knesset. This was reflected by Israeli justice Esther Hayut when she quoted Ze’ev Jabotinsky in her response to Levin: “Democracy means freedom. A government supported by a majority can also negate freedom. And in a place in which guarantees for individual freedom do not exist — democracy does not exist.”

Israel’s liberals and political moderates see this rising far-right and its advance in the government, and its attempts to weaken the supreme court, as an existential threat to the Israel that they want to keep and preserve. In the fight for existence, the potential for bloodshed is always there, which means that Israel is closer to the prospect of civil war than what others would like to think. To quote the words of Israeli president Isaac Herzog: “Those who think that a real civil war, with human lives, is a border we won’t cross, have no idea. … A civil war is a red line. At any price, and by any means, I won’t let it happen.” The division is not just over mere politics, but the soul of Israel. As Jesse Ferris wrote: “Previous divisions were, for the most part, over policy. The present rift is over who we are.”

Within the year of 2023, in the months before the October 7th massacre, for the first time in the history of the modern state of Israel, talk of civil war between the Jews became mainstream. The bloodbath done by Hamas put an end to the talk on a possible bloodbath between the Jews themselves. But if one looks at the political discourse that was going on in Israel in the months prior to the Hamas slaughter, one will see much analysis on the potential for civil war amongst the Jews themselves. For example, in August of 2023, Lior Ackerman, a former brigadier-general for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), wrote an article expressing how it is not impossible for a civil war to break out in Israel. He points how much of the IDF consists of far-Right zionists:

“The IDF is built on a very broad chain of command, which includes many commanders from religious Zionism. In the last elections, a large part of the soldiers voted for the extreme right party of Itamar Ben Gabir”

The ultra-nationalists and Jewish orthodox population is out-populating the politically moderate Israelis through higher birth rates, which means it is the Right (and not the left nor the middle-ground) that is winning the demographic war. The youth in Israel have become more right-wing than the older generations; as Josh Hantman writes, far-right politicians like Itamar ben-Gvir have “successfully captured the imagination of a decent chunk of the youth – a group who are much further to the right than older demographics.” He further writes:

“With the incredible growth of Israel’s population, you have tens of thousands of new voters each cycle – even with elections this close together,” he explained. “These voters are by definition younger, and many are soldiers, who are more likely to lean to the right and be excited by the populist, ultra-nationalist rhetoric.”

Israel’s liberals are being outmatched, which has led them to see that they are in a crisis — or really, a fierce struggle — for the existence of the Israel that they cherish. On the other hand, the Right sees the opposing side as the biggest threat to the creation of the religious Israel that they envisage. Thus, both sides see each other as the threat against what they think Israel should be. In such a tense atmosphere, it is easy to see how so many soldiers being in the nationalist right can help lead to a conflagration of violence. They have guns, training, and they can lead their side in a conflict. “When taking all the existing data and analyzing the current situation,” writes Ackerman, “a very worrying picture emerges, which may lead the State of Israel to a violent civil struggle, which may deteriorate into a civil war in which elements serving in the army will voluntarily become involved. It is indeed an extreme scenario, but not one that is not impossible in the current situation.”

“The struggle for the integrity of the land will also justify a civil war,” wrote Israeli Raphael Waldan in December of 2023, “not fundamentally different from the one that caused the destruction of the Second Temple.” The reference to the Second Temple is not about the Roman destruction of the Temple during the Jewish-Roman war, but to the civil war that took place during that conflict. When one reads Josephus history on that war, one will see throughout the war it was not a black-and-white situation where it was just Jews and Romans fighting each other; but rather it was dominated by an internal war between the Jews themselves. The conflict was between those Jews who wanted war with the Romans and those who did not. Today, it is between moderates and ultra-religious and nationalists. In May of 2022, Naftali Bennet did a speech in honor of Israel’s fallen soldiers in which he warned about a divided Jewish house. And what did he bring up? The Jewish civil war before the destruction of the Second Temple, and he warned that currently Israel is in its third chance, and there won’t be another:

“Unfortunately, our people are scarred by the gene of factionalism,” he said. “This is the third time that a sovereign Jewish state exists here in the Land of Israel. The previous two times we failed to make it past the eighth decade. . . . What a terrible price we paid: 2,000 years in miserable exile, under pogroms and humiliation and catastrophes — all because we succumbed . . . to fraternal hate. Now, praise God, we have been granted a third opportunity. . . . My brothers and sisters, there will not be another.”

In July of 2023, Israeli-Arab journalist Mirwan Bishara warned that the Jewish nationalist call to arms will not be just against Arabs, but other Jews as well: “When supporters of Minister of National Security Itmar Ben-Gvir follow through on his call to carry arms, those weapons will not only be used against Palestinians – but also against secular, liberal Israelis they abhor no less.” Bishara concluded by saying that “the genie is out of the bottle, and the fanatics, who have moved from the margins to the centre of power, and who feed on conflict and war, will not stop until their messianic redemption is complete, come what may. Preferably apocalyptical.”

Ethnic, religious and political tensions in Israel are so great that it would not take much to trigger a wave of violence. The world got a taste of this on February 26th of 2023. On this day, a Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Jewish settlers in the Palestinian town of Huwara. On the night of February 26th, hundreds of settlers raided Huwara and three nearby villages, setting ablaze businesses, homes and vehicles. Israeli Major General Yehuda Fuchs called the rampage “a pogrom done by outlaws”. There was an Israeli crowdfunding campaign done to raise money for those whose property was devastated, and in one week 12,000 Israelis donated $465,000. Sadly, against those of civility, there are the fanatics amongst the Jews and they have advanced in influence.  Zvika Fogel, a member of the Knesset for the Otzma Yehudit party, supported the pogrom: ”Yesterday a terrorist came from Huwara – Huwara is closed and burnt. That is what I want to see.”

The main fault line between the Arabs and Jews would have to be between the Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank. In the West Bank — not including East Jerusalem — there are over 450,000 settlers (and Bezazel Smotrich wants to double this number to a million people). But, if you include East Jerusalem, the number increases to about 700,000 settlers. The median age for males in the West Bank — and this includes the Jewish settlements — is 21.7 years old, which means that amongst both the Palestinians and the the Jewish settlers there is a very large, fighting age male population. A massive young male population, mixed in with guns and fanaticism is a dangerously effective combination for a bloodbath between the settlers and the Palestinians.

So what do all of these things — tensions between the Jews and between the Jews and the Arabs — tell us? Its quite obvious: the future bloodbath in Israel over political, religious and ethnic differences; a bloodbath between liberal and conservative Jews, Orthodox and Reformed Jews, Jews and Arabs — a bloodbath between Shem. Shem has been pushed out of his tent and now lives in a makeshift tent, and he will burn this to the ground. There will be civil war between Jews, and there will be violence against Arabs, and the latter bloodbath will spark an Islamic invasion against Israel. Who would lead such a jihad? The strongest of the Islamic countries — Iran and Turkey.