Nearly the whole country – but who in Israel is listening?
By David E. Kaplan
My physiotherapist expressed while treating my damaged knee:
“You know, this is worse then when I was in Lebanon.”
This was a reference to the mood in the country and not the condition of my knee. “We were fighting an enemy back then behind a wall, on top of a roof or above on a hill. Now we are fighting at home with each other – our neighbours, our friends our family. I don’t know how, when or even if, it will end.”
My physio was more optimistic about my knee than Israel. I felt the complete opposite. I knew realistically the best days of my knee were behind but no less realistically believed that the best days of Israel still lay ahead. Resonating in my mind were the profoundly prophetic and poetic words of the South African-born Israeli diplomat and politician Abba Eban:
“Israel’s future will be longer than its past.”
After 2000 years of exile and persecution, we were not going to let control over our destiny slip away again and by or own hand!
True there “was no resolution yet in sight” as my physio asserted with the same intensity as he hard-pressed the flesh around my fragile knee, but we did agree “at least we are talking”, albeit at times more like SHOUTING!
And if the country was experiencing a semblance of a “civil war” as some TV commentators and news media correspondents are bandying about, it is of a Jewish variety. Afterall, the barbs are at the tips of tongues not bullets.
Nevertheless, the verbal barbs emanating from this coalition are tough to process. Take for example, Likud firebrand Tally Gotliv, who at a recent rally in Netanya in support of her government’s proposed judicial reform, called for the dismissal of Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miar. The AG had simply been doing her job by warning, nay I say ‘counselling’ the Prime Minister that he would be acting illegally if he involved himself directly in his government’s moves to change the country’s judicial system. Why? Simply, because it could be construed as a conflict of interest vis-à-vis his ongoing criminal cases.
On a rampant charge of absurdity, galloping Gotliv further called for the insane imprisonment of former PM Ehud Barak accusing him of “sedition”. Sedition? “He should be in prison,” she called for. Where does Gotliv come with her crazy notion of calling Israel’s most decorated war veteran who fearlessly faced death on the battlefield and was a former Prime Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff a traitor? It’s one thing being known for fiery rhetoric, it’s quite another accusing your opposition – simply for holding opposing views which is the nature of “opposition” of having “betrayed the State of Israel”. Gotliv had bellowed to her followers at the Netanya rally the following:
“You know what differentiates us from the people on the left? The left has lost it, the left betrayed the State of Israel; the left forgot the most basic values of the people of Israel and a Jewish and democratic state.”
Could her choice of wording be more divisive and dangerous?
Gotliv is a sad barometer of the calibre of this government’s leadership. Her statement was not a rash outburst of an animated politician at a rally. Gotliv displays a pattern of stupidity imbued with toxic values – a calamitous combination. Review what she shockingly expressed in a Twitter post back in February when she accused Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut of inciting a deadly terrorist attack that claimed the lives of three Israelis:
“I blame the Supreme Court chief justice for the terror attack. I blame her for the chaos in Israel, and for destroying democracy and the rule of law.”
A member of the government blames the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for murder and terrorism, and you wonder why the people of Israel are literally up-in-arms, brandishing banners to protect their Supreme Court?
Is it any wonder why the protests continue every Saturday night against a government that has not lost its way but is decidedly heading in the wrong direction. This ‘coalition of chaos’ is careering ingloriously at full speed down a cul-de-sac. It is a political and moral dead end and the people of Israel from all persuasions and parties have risen to revers course before it’s too late. By obstructing certain roads in protests, these obstructions are proving to be a metaphor of trying to block the coalitions attempts at undermining Israel’s precious democracy. It is why the very mention at protests of those names in the coalition driving this chaos from Prime Minister Netanyahu, to Levin, Rothman, Ben Gvir, Smotrich and now Gotliv are met by protestors shouting repeatedly in Hebrew “Busha, Busha, Busha” – “Shame, Shame, Shame”.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Nevertheless there is one marked change in the political landscape. If in the past protesters against judicial reform were criticized for protesting, now supporters of the government too are protesting all across the country – in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Beer Sheva and even in my city of Kfar Saba. Irrespective of allegiances and perspectives, a cross-section of citizens are making their voices heard. People are addressing issues that for far too long have been hibernating under the proverbial rug, lazily left for future generations to resolve.
With people pouring onto the streets in protest, there is a new dawn awakening this generation to forge a way ahead as to what type of Israel it wants.
That crucial conversation about the characteristics and identity of an evolving Israel – raucous as it is – has begun. What’s more, no one can escape it.
While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves. LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).