Hillel Damron
Writer, filmmaker and blogger

A Tale of Two Women

This tale of two women is also a tale of two countries, of two democracies and societies, which are going in two different directions, and are growing apart and away from each other. As such, it represents a widening chasm not only between these two countries, but between the two largest Jewish centers in the world, and demonstrates a dangerous fallout, separation of ideas, ideals and codes of conduct and behavior, appropriate – and not so appropriate – to these evolving modern times. It seems ominously clear that, unless these issues are decidedly addressed, with immediate efforts in both countries being made to limit their scope and reach – and I don’t see that as being currently the case at all – it will bring the American Jewish people and the Israeli Jewish people into a major collision course.

Now, you ask, what about these two women of the title? Well, let me tell you. In the space of a month, in these two different countries, two women were appointed to uphold and protect the law of the land, in their positions as United States’ Attorney General and Israel’s Justice Minister. The first to be sworn into office, indeed after a protracted, lengthy and laborious process, was Loretta E. Lynch. She is the first African American woman to hold this important office, but was chosen for it not only because of her racial background – important a factor as it was – but rather because of her extensive legal background and work as “U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, (where) Lynch oversaw federal prosecutions in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island,” (according to Wikipedia). Her impressive legal work, to go along with her educational background – a “Doctorate from Harvard law School” – had prepared her for this crucially important job. As result, her nomination and candidacy withstood the extensive, grueling examination by the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate, led by republicans (she was appointed by president Obama ), which nonetheless voted to confirm her appointment. Following that, so did the entire Senate.

The other woman (so to speak) is Ayelet Shaked, who was just sworn in as Israel’s new Justice Minister. She has no legal background or training whatsoever, no working experience in the field, and no educational degree as an attorney. Apart from being young and pretty, two attributes the Israeli press and media had made a big hullabaloo about, she holds a degree in computer engineering, and had served for two years in the Israeli Knesset. She was also Prime Minister Netanyahu’s secretary for two years, before a breakout in relationships, until the latest political maneuver that has brought her and Naftali Bennett, chairman of The Jewish Home Party (a religious party, though she herself is secular) that favors annexation of large parts of the West Bank, and strongly opposes the Two-State solution, into the government at the last minute. And it so happened that a woman without any legal background, “a right-wing extremist who in the past has entertained quasi-genocidal thoughts will now be in charge of Israel’s entire justice system,” (as reported in Haaretz.) “Among other things, she is one of the originators of the so-called ‘nation-state bill’ that aims to turn Israel’s democratic values into unwanted subordinates of its Jewish identity.”

Loretta E. Lynch first action as US Attorney General was to visit Baltimore, following the riots and unrest there lately, the result of the killing by the police of an unarmed black resident in a mostly black neighborhood of the city. She came there to calm the boiling spirits and mounting rage of the local people, and to reassure them that a full investigation – her first major act in office – would be conducted by her office into the Baltimore Police Department response in this matter, and into the long, problematic relations between the police and the black community in Baltimore, citing a “serious erosion of public trust.” A thorough examination into the complex relationship will take place, including into allegations of excessive force, unlawful searches, seizures and arrests, and the results will be known to all. Her past legal work, her educational credentials, and her standing in the black community assured the local population, and America as a whole, of the respectful turning of a new page.

What Ayelet Shaked first action would be remains to be seen. Judging (what a loaded word in this regard) though by her past remarks and actions, and her party’s platform, including her party leader’s actions and remarks, it might be directed (as reported in The Times of Israel) towards “splitting the attorney general post into two or even three different offices, giving the Knesset the power to overrule High Court of Justice decisions, and reducing the voting power of Supreme Court justices on the Judicial Appointments Committee.” What next, maybe solidifying the Apartheid policies in the West Bank? Perhaps certifying the annexation of the occupied territories – against any and all international laws and courts – and declaring the Palestinians officially second class citizens? Perhaps deporting all African asylum-seekers? Passing her own, so-called “NGO bill,” which limits the donations received by human rights groups and other left-wing leaning organizations?

As I said, it remains to be seen. Maybe she will surprise us all, but I doubt it. What clearer to me is that Israel is moving away from its core Jewish values; a government with the slimmest of majorities, representing right-wing, religious orthodox polices, with a Justice Minister such as Ayelet Shaked, will move Israel farther away not only from America, and from the rest of the Western World, but mostly form the Jewish people of America. Especially the young ones. At the same time, it will bring Israel closer to isolation, apartheid-like state de facto, and a collision course – the Pope treaty of recognizing the Palestinian State is a case in point – with the rest of the world.

About the Author
Hillel Damron is the author of novels, essays, and short stories—one which won the 2011 ‘Moment Magazine Memoire Contest.’ He studied films at the ‘London Film School’ and became the film director of TV documentaries, a feature film, and video shorts. He was the Executive Director of the ‘Hillel House at UC Davis'. He was an elite IDF paratroops unit officer who was wounded in battle; he was born in kibbutz Hephzibah to parents who survived the Holocaust.