ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Haredi outlet’s cartoons depict Lapid as a pig, judge as dragon, protester as wolf

Opposition leader accuses ultra-Orthodox site of using antisemitic imagery in its caricatures

A cartoon depicting opposition leader Yair Lapid as a pig counting money, published in the Behadrei Haredim Haredi news site, April 2023. The banners read: "Demonstration" and "Never mind what it's about" -- references to the mass protests against the government's controversial judicial overhaul, which Lapid has sometimes addressed. (Twitter photo screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A cartoon depicting opposition leader Yair Lapid as a pig counting money, published in the Behadrei Haredim Haredi news site, April 2023. The banners read: "Demonstration" and "Never mind what it's about" -- references to the mass protests against the government's controversial judicial overhaul, which Lapid has sometimes addressed. (Twitter photo screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Opposition leader Yair Lapid has slammed a Haredi news outlet for running a caricature of him as a pig counting money, and accused it of using antisemitic tropes.

The ultra-Orthodox news site Behadrei Haredim published a cartoon Tuesday showing Lapid with the features of a pig while counting money next to signs that read, “Demonstration — never mind what it’s about,” appearing to accuse the opposition leader of profiting off protests against the government’s plans to shackle the judiciary.

“This is how antisemites drew Jews for generations,” Lapid tweeted. “I am trying to think what would happen if images of Haredi leaders as pigs who only care about money were published — imagine the outcry, the victimhood.”

Other cartoons published on the site used further inflammatory imagery to depict Israelis opposing the judicial overhaul.

One image showed an anti-judicial overhaul protester dressed up in a handmaid costume from Margaret Atwood’s book “The Handmaid’s Tale” — a look that has become popular at protests by women who warn the overhaul will harm their rights — and depicted as a malevolent wolf.

Those participating in protests are seeking to drive home the fear that the overhaul will leave minorities and women unprotected, referencing the futuristic novel where subjugated women are forced to bear children for male leaders of a patriarchal society.

Another image depicted a knight in shining armor defending the judicial overhaul — apparently the MK leading the legislative charge, Simcha Rothman — battling former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak, portrayed as something between a dragon and a demonic entity.

Haredi political parties have a particular interest in passing the overhaul’s so-called “override clause” — which in its current form would allow the Knesset to cancel a High Court ruling by a majority of 61 votes — saying it is critical to prevent the court from intervening in their affairs, including their efforts to achieve a blanket exclusion for the conscription of ultra-Orthodox youths to the military.

Bills that have satisfied their demands regarding mandatory draft exemptions have been struck down by courts in the past, though non-service is widespread.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu halted the judicial overhaul process last week in order to allow for talks on a compromise, hours before a bill to assert political control over judicial appointments was set to become law.

The judicial overhaul legislation aims to weaken the court’s ability to serve as a check on parliament, as well as give the government almost absolute control over the appointment of judges.

Critics say the plans will politicize the court, remove key checks on governmental power and cause grievous harm to Israel’s democratic character. Proponents of the measures say they will rein in a judiciary that they argue has overstepped its bounds.

The attorney general has warned that the coalition’s current package of legislation would hand the government virtually unrestrained power, without providing any institutional protections for individual rights.

Negotiations are currently being held between the coalition and opposition to try and reach a deal on a potential reform that will be acceptable to a majority of Israelis, though political observers are not optimistic that an agreement is likely.

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