Netanyahu’s Israel is becoming unrecognisable with each passing day

By David E. Kaplan

It was light relief; a fleeting moment of illumination before darkness.

A “heartwarming” video clip went viral. It captures a brief respite amidst the tumult and turmoil in Israel, as protesters who are against the judicial overhaul head down the long escalator and meet momentarily pro-judicial overhaul supporters heading up the adjacent escalator at Jerusalem’s Yitzhak Navon underground train station. The caption to the clip describes the moment as “heartwarming” as animated protestors holding diametrically opposed positions on the government’s judicial overhaul, reach out physically to touch hands as the escalators move on – one up and one down – a moving metaphor of a literally touching encounter but going off in different directions. They were returning to their homes in a country that was beginning to feel less like home.

My son Gary, who lives in Tel Aviv, experienced it. He was in the long endless throng of protestors against the judicial overhaul heading down the escalator to the platform that would return them back to Tel Aviv after a day of protesting outside the Supreme Court. “Surreal” is the way he described it.

Fighting for their Future. Stony faces reflecting concern, the writer’s son Gary (left) and friend Tal Angert both from Tel Aviv at the demonstration outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem.

Separated by less than a metre, “Here we were, opponents, singing different songs, wearing T-shirts with contrary messages, as were our placards, and suddenly, a surprise reaching out – not political, purely emotional!” A spontaneous outreach – albeit fleeting.

The End of the Beginning. Following the vote, the protests will not abate until democracy in Israel is secure.

Still, it was nowhere close then what their politicians could even achieve!

How could it be achieved when the Prime Minister did not even allow it to be achieved and would later blame the opposition. Before the crucial vote – all captured on film – Netanyahu sat like an impartial referee in the Knesset, as his Defense Minister on his right, Yoav Gallant pleaded for a delay to the vote on the ‘Reasonable Bill” that was tearing the country apart, while on his left, the arch proponent of the bill, Justice Minister Yariv Levin bellowed the opposite.

We are marching to Jerusalem. Preceding the monumental vote in the first bill of the government’s judicial overhaul, protestors in the 4-day march to Jerusalem.

Give me something to work with,” pleaded an anxious Gallant trying desperately to stem the erosion of the military by protesting reservist refuseniks,  but it fell on deaf ears. The Nero in Netanyahu let Israel burn as the vote went through 64-0 with a walkout before the vote of every member of the Knesset bar the frenzied coalition of Bibi Netanyahu.

The score, 64-0, bellowed to the world, Bibi won, Israel lost.

The reactions local and global were swift.

Until recently, Bibi was championed as Mr. Economics, “the man who understood money.” That’s history, gone with the destruction of the Second Temple, which is precisely where he is leading the country today. Within hours of the passing of the first bill of the judicial overhaul, Israel’s financial markets tumbled with the shekel hitting a two-week low versus the dollar. Does the prime minister or his cohorts even care when Citibank and Morgan Stanley warn of “major risk to Israeli economy” with Morgan Stanley lowering its credit rating?

Ready, Aim, Fire. Rather than water down the controversial nation-splitting bill, the government preferred to pound protesters with water in Jerusalem, July 24, 2023. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

They are not showing it!  Is as if we are living in a Stepford Wives scenario that the minds of our leaders  have been taken over and programmed to lead us to self-destruct, while their supporters are delirious with delusion into believing this somehow its “G-d’s plan”.

The last few months have literally broken the spirit of a lot of people who now don’t believe their future is in Israel,” said Eynat Guez, co-founder of an international payroll company called Papaya Global. “The government is sending a clear message: You’re not welcome here. We don’t care about your future.”

That was exactly the feeling of those who were descending down the escalator and if there was a fleeting moment of light below ground, above ground a day later it was all dark as the front pages of many of the newspapers carried sponsered BLACK front pages.

News in Black. Response to the government’s vote in the Knesset, leading Israeli newspapers have their front pages in black.

Where was this leading? Again, we did not have long to wait. “This is only the beginning, there are many more overhaul laws to pass,” voiced danger-man National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to reporters. And in response to the Biden administration’s displeasure at Israel’s assault on shared democratic values, Ben Gvir responded on Army Radio that his Israel – most certainly not mine –  “will only take the good things from the U.S., like arming civilians and using the death penalty against ‘terrorists’.”

Is this Israel even recognizable? Is it any wonder a cartoonist has Herzl vomiting from his Basel balcony.

Revulsion. Israeli cartoonist captures a Theodore Herzl in the iconic Basel hotel on learning of the distortion of his vision of a Jewish state.


In response to the message from the coalition Knesset vote, first at the starting block to further lead Israel to ruination was the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism party (UTJ). Expeditiously exploiting the cancellation of the “Reasonable Bill”, UTJ proposes a bill that would legislate that studying Torah be viewed “as service to Israel and the Jewish people” with the sole aim  to prevent a future Supreme Court ruling to strike down a new Haredi conscription bill on constitutional grounds. In other words, to avoid joining in with the lesser mortals – the people of Israeli – in defending the country. The UTJ bill would enshrine in law a blanket exemption from military service to students in yeshivot (orthodox leaning institutions) and prevent the Supreme Court – because no longer a reasonable bill protection – from striking it down on the basis of inequality.

The haredi parties had initially demanded an ‘override clause’  in order to ensure that it will be able to override a similar Supreme Court ruling in the future. That now is unnecessary as the Supreme Court would no longer have the constitutional right to strike down such a future law. The spectacle in the Knesset on Monday has brought the country to this iniquitous state of affairs.

With the direction of Netanyahu’s Israel today clear to all, it is only a question of time as this predatory government moves on the West Bank to further annex, speed up housing construction, legitamise illegal outposts and harass the lives of the Palestinian population.  Any possibility of peace will further recede and there will be no Supreme Court to question the “unreasonableness” of this government’s misguided conduct.

Man in the Middle. A medically and politically weakened prime Minister, Netanyahu (centre) blocks his attempt-at-compromise defence minister Yoav Gallant (l), championing instead his juggernaut extreme-right steered by justice minister Yariv Levin (r). (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

If THIS government survives and continues on THIS “March of Folly”, then Israel will not live up to the prophesy of the late Israeli diplomat and esteemed foreign minister Abba Eban, when he wrote:

Israel’s future will be longer than its past”.

What is more, It won’t be at the hands of the Iranians, Hamas, Hezbollah  or any of the usual suspects but by our own hand.

I thought it was an injunction of Judaism not to commit suicide!

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).


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.