The delegitimization of Israel has been accelerating at a dizzying pace these past couple of weeks − only this campaign is being waged here, in Israel, not by critics abroad.
This latest attack of delegitimization is much more serious than what goes on in the rest of the world. This time the country is being delegitimized in the eyes of its own people. In the end, not only will the world stop believing Israel, Israelis themselves will stop believing in it or its institutions.
So the international organizations are asked to hold their fire. The people at the top here are doing the work for them. A line, albeit a crooked one, connects the mischief leading to the “unity” government to the state’s mischief in the case of Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood, and this line spells out only one thing to Israelis, particularly younger ones: Fraud and lies are the way to go.
Those clucking their tongues at the wildness of today’s young people might want to remember that the rot starts at the top. The next time a teenager exits a courtroom, he can say what he learned from his prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that he’ll “consider” and “think about” what he’ll do in view of the verdict; and the next time someone is accused of fraud, he can point to his role model, Shaul Mofaz.
These two have shattered the fragile structure of Israeli governance more than any of Israel’s critics have done. The damage they’re causing doesn’t just harm our image; it gnaws at our essence. This required class on fraud and crime proves our country’s leaders are not just cynical figures, but anti-educational. Too bad we cannot remove them from our curriculum.
Civics teacher Benjamin Netanyahu has been giving a lesson on the rule of law. He’s teaching his students that after a final court ruling, the convicted party decide how to respond. The court doesn’t decide, the guilty one decides. His colleague in the teachers’ room, his new deputy Shaul Mofaz, says that he “believes in the rule of law,” as if the rule of law is a matter of faith, and if you don’t believe, you need not obey.
The Israel Police has also been conducting anti-civics lessons, teaching us that protesters are enemies. After they jailed demonstrators who hadn’t even left their offices on the eve of Independence Day, they behaved violently at Monday’s demonstration against the new government. What will young people think about their country? What do they have to look forward to?
But these were just a prelude to the most anti-educational lesson of all: Presenting the inclusion of Mofaz in the coalition as a step that will benefit the country. This blatant lie is apparently being accompanied by illegally hiding secret clauses in the new coalition agreement.
How fascinating that this process was cooked up by Natan Eshel, Netanyahu’s former top aide who allegedly sexually harassed a co-worker. Once upon a time, someone in his situation would seclude himself at home in shame; now he gives television interviews. A private attorney is managing the so-called negotiations with the Palestinians and a disgraced former aide is putting together Israeli governments. What stellar examples of the delegitimization of government institutions.
In 1956, Rahamim Kalanter, a Jerusalem city councilman, agreed to remain in the governing coalition even though his party, the National Religious Party, walked out, and in return he was named deputy mayor for religion and sanitation. Since then, the act of crossing party lines in exchange for government goodies has been called “Kalanterism.”
In 2005, Alex Goldfarb bolted his party, Tsomet, and cast one of the votes that allowed the Oslo II accords to pass by two votes. In return he was given a government post that came with a big car.
Kalanter and Goldfarb were once symbols of shame. But now we must apologize to them. Mofaz managed to go much further than either of them; he joined the government just to assure another year-and-a-half in the Knesset for himself and Kadima colleagues such as Ronit Tirosh, and no one will even bother making up derogatory terms for this.
But the biggest damage of all here is the message that emerges from these scandals: Your leaders, dear citizens of Israel, take you for fools. Is there any more serious delegitimization of a country that this affront to its people? If this is what Israel’s leaders think of their countrymen, then what will they say in New York or London?
Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Mofaz are telling their nation and the world: We are leaders in a country of dwarfs, its citizens are all boors and idiots, and we can sell them any lie. If we tell them day is night and spitting is rain, they’ll believe it.
We are also leaders of a country where court verdicts are merely suggestions. Now we are not only flouting international law, but our own law.
And if that isn’t delegitimization, then what is?
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now