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Benyamin Netanyahu during a weekly cabinet meeting
Benyamin Netanyahu during a weekly cabinet meeting
Yoel Esteron*

-OpEd-

TEL AVIV — Who would have thought that we'd miss Avigdor Lieberman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Well, we don't really miss him, but unlike Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Lieberman at least understood the importance of good relations with the United States.

So sure that relations with the U.S. are "excellent," she will no doubt proceed to lecture Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as European foreign ministers, about where they are mistaken. Moreover, if one of them, or any foreign male guest, tries to shake hands with her, she will have to refrain in accordance with the Orthodox Jewish custom of Negiah, which forbids physical contact with a member of the opposite sex who are not close relatives.

Hotovely’s appointment is hardly an exception in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s newly formed government. There are some ministers who fit naturally into their offices (finance, defense and health, for example). But most of the cabinet members seem ill-equipped for the offices they are serving. Some are even hostile towards their offices. It's not so much a national government as an oppositional one.

Below all expectations

Expectations for the new government weren't very high to begin with, but Netanyahu has still somehow managed to underwhelm them. There are very good people in his Likud political party, but the prime minister has decided to push them away, or to humiliate them, or both.

Aryeh Deri, leader of ultra-Orthodox Shas party who wanted to head the Interior Ministry, had to settle for the Ministry of Economy, an important department but not so valuable in his eyes. And, of course, there is his utter lack of policy expertise in industry and exports, which is problematic.

Meanwhile, Ayelet Shaked won't be the first Justice Minister without a legal background. But after her multiple statements hostile to the Supreme Court and the Attorney General, it appears her appointment won't serve the legal and judicial system well. The campaign promises Netanyahu made not to hurt the Supreme Court are probably about as bankable as all of his other ones — which is to say, they're worthless.

Naftali Bennett, the newly appointed head of the Education Ministry, is completely unsympathetic to the liberal values of the secular educational system. Yet this leader of the right-wing Jewish Home Party is now charged with Israel's most important education job.

Past Israeli governments have certainly had some unworthy ministers, those who didn't fit their roles and even some who were hostile to their offices, but Israel has never before had a government an adversarial as this one. Traditionally, ministers have fought one other over competing interests and priorities, but in Netanyahu's fourth government, they will challenge their own offices.

This government will not attack Iran, but instead itself and its own citizens. As for the peace process, there's no point in fantasizing. This is Israel’s 34th government. Indeed, having to form a new government every two years is deadly for stability. Netanyahu is right that there's a problem with this system. But the bigger problem right now is him.

*Yoel Esteron is the founder and publisher of Calcalist. He also used to be the editor of Haaretz.

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Ideas

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Elon Musk bought Twitter in the name of absolute freedom. But numerous research shows that social media hate speech leads to actual violence. Musk and others running social networks need to strike a balance.

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Freedom on social networks can result in insults and defamation

Jean-Marc Vittori

-Analysis-

PARIS — Elon Musk is the world's leading reckless driver. The ever unpredictable CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is now behind a very different wheel as the new head of Twitter.

He began by banning remote work before slightly backtracking and authorizing it for the company’s “significant contributors.” Now he’s opened the door to Donald Trump to return to Twitter, while at the same time vaunting a decrease in the number of hate-messages that appear on the social network…all while firing Twitter’s content moderation teams.

But this time, the world’s richest man will have to make choices. He’ll have to limit his otherwise unconditional love of free speech. “Freedom consists of being able to do everything that does not harm others,” proclaimed the French-born Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.

Yet freedom on social networks results not only in insults and defamation, but sometimes also in physical aggression.

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