On the Way to Eritrea

The refugees make the long journey from Eritrea to Israel, barefoot; the Netanyahu government makes the opposite trip, making Israel bare of liberal democracy, turning it into an Eritrea of sorts.

Why is it, anyway, that Israel can possess hundreds of nuclear bombs - according to foreign sources, of course - while Iran cannot have any?

There are only two possible answers to this crucial question. One: A Latin phrase that, loosely translated, means "Gods may do what cattle may not" - in other words, that superpowers allow themselves what other nations cannot. The problem is that Israel is not a superpower, but a small country. That leaves the only other possible response: Iran is ruled by a religious extremist, expansionist regime that suppresses democracy; Israel is the polar opposite. The Netanyahu government has now rendered this argument, of strategic necessity, a lie.

This week our religious extremist interior minister ratcheted up the antidemocratic rhetoric against non-Jewish Africans living in Israel. As the de facto head of the Shas party's network of schools, Eli Yishai turns the biblical precept of loving the foreigner on its head: The ger, the foreigner we are enjoined to love, no longer refers to the strangers in our midst - "for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" - but rather to those who convert to Judaism. And the African foreigners? To prison with them, without a trial.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal and family attorney, who now exalts in the post of attorney general, this week made clear the nature of the state: Rabbis who call for prohibiting non-Jews from living in Israel's cities will continue to receive funding as representatives of the state, and the book "Torat Hamelekh," which calls for the wholesale killing of non-Jews, including infants, will become the Torah of the state, which will pay for its distribution. But a journalist who revealed, with the approval of the military censor, that the deputy chief of state ordered targeted killings, in contravention of the High Court of Justice, will be tried on charges of aggravated espionage.

Most of the "foreigners" who are the targets of incitement are from Eritrea. They cannot be repatriated because Eritrea is an extremist dictatorship. Anyone there who publicly criticizes the government is thrown in jail. Israel is among the few countries that maintains full diplomatic relations with this pariah state. It is now clear: The refugees make the long journey from Eritrea to Israel, barefoot; the Netanyahu government makes the opposite trip, making Israel bare of liberal democracy, turning it into an Eritrea of sorts.

Forty-five years ago today, on June 5, the occupation of the territories began. It was a Monday, according to Jewish tradition the day on which the evil inclination was created.

It is now clear: Israel's occupation by the racist religious civilization of the occupied territories has been completed. The settlement in the hearts is total. Even if the government does manage to move five buildings 500 meters, Israel will not be a state of law and justice. Just the reverse. In the next school year, 56 percent of the children classified as Jewish who are entering first grade will attend state-funded religious or ultra-Orthodox schools - schools that teach, in the spirit of Interior Minister Eli Yishai, of Rabbi Dov Lior and his "Torat Hamelekh," that non-Jews are non-human. This is now the religion of the Netanyahu state, his eunuchs and his family attorney.

At a conference last week at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Strategic Studies, the lecture of institute director Amos Yadlin, who is also the previous director of Military Intelligence, stood out. Yadlin is no dove; he prefers an Israeli strike on Iran to allowing Iran to possess nuclear weapons. But Yadlin made it very clear that a condition for any Israeli strike on Iran is that it be followed by a prolonged, coordinated Western campaign. Without that, Israel can achieve nothing more than a brief delay. It is incapable of doing more. According to Yadlin, legitimacy and cooperation with the West are critical to Israel's very existence.

In turning Israel into a kind of Eritrea or Iran, Netanyahu is putting Israel's continued existence in jeopardy - at a time when the violence of antidemocratic regimes in the Muslim world could have afforded a democratic, non-extremist, non-expansionist and non-messianic Israel full liberal Western legitimacy for any action.

When Netanyahu usurps that legitimacy from Israel, he can be likened to the main character of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," who in selling damaged parts for war planes brings disaster on himself and his family. Instead of being perceived as an enlightened and democratic country, Israel - because of Netanyahu - gets top billing in global opinion polls as part of the extremist trinity that poses a threat to the entire world, along with Iran and North Korea.

These things must be said, and clearly. If Israel and its victory over a religious, antidemocratic Iran are important to Netanyahu, he must pick himself up, together with his cohort of rabbis, eunuchs and his family attorney, and leave the government. He should make himself scarce, before the summer and the autumn of decision that will follow. He should disappear, and allow a democratic Israel to conquer the regional religious radicalism.