livnat, netanyahu, saar - Emil Salman - Sept 3 2010
Limor Livnat, Benjamin Netanyahu and Gideon Sa’ar. Photo by Emil Salman
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Israeli democracy is mainly for decoration, like a tree grown for its beauty, not to bear fruit. Few people actually use it or the rights it affords. Many are merely happy that they can vote in the Knesset elections, and even this number is getting smaller.

Does Israel's civic passivity stem from laziness or apathy or despair? That feeling that there's no way they can influence or change anything? And if governments suffice with running countries, this government is adamant about dictating the policies of the opposition - with an opposition comprised of such figures as Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz and Tzachi Hanegbi, this is certainly possible. A democracy that is atrophying, that is not utilized on a daily basis, becomes an unnecessary tool.

But here we find a paradox: Those who fight against democracy in order to destroy it, to set up an alternative state in its place, are the very people who know how to exploit it to the full. The settlers know, as do the rabbis, who teach their students how their "Jewish state" will look. During the past few months it appears as if fascism has already arrived here and is waiting just behind the wall. And even the genius of our times - for whom everything has been turned inside out - knows, judging by his weekly hot-air emissions. They use democracy in order to toss it out.

Here and there a few, the few who were lost in the desert, renounce them, but then immediately pounce on them to scare them and shut them up - the government and the rabble alike. And what can a person who wants to protest do when his soul has despaired of those who kill and those who are killed? When his soul is fed up with the occupation, and all he wants is that it should not manage to occupy his desires? Someone seeking salvation for his soul and ours - what is left for him to do?

If he participates in the popular struggle against the separation fence, he will be buried outside the fence of the cemetery; if he demonstrates in Sheikh Jarrah, he will feel the heavy hand of the police; if he is a university lecturer, they'll send the watchdogs after him in the name of Zionism; if he belongs to a theater troupe, someone who can still see the Green Line in his mind's eye, they will threaten the source of his income; if he is a school principal who tries not just to support settlements but to inculcate them, they will look for a different institution for him because that is not how we do things; if he is a judge who dares deny that security is of the utmost importance, they will blame him for bloodshed; if he is a journalist who refuses to join in the chorus, there will be cries to boycott his newspaper; if he is a citizen who wishes to protect a child being threatened with expulsion from the country, he too will be blacklisted as an enemy of the people; and a long list remains.

What a foolish government. If such people hadn't been around to break through the fences and hold their own, Benjamin Netanyahu, Limor Livnat and Gideon Sa'ar would've had to invite them to do so, to find a special clause in the budget to support them. After all, these figures are their alibis and the last living proof of a democratic regime in Israel.

Without them, this government would be left with only the inflated Eli Yishai and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who is constantly letting out hot air but, heaven forbid, should not be denounced as the national skunk. The prime minister pretends he can't hear and all the ministers keep mum just like him. How simple it is to condemn left-wing artists at the start of the cabinet meeting, to threaten to turn out the lights on their stage.

Next week the president will make his annual pilgrimage to the rabbi, to wish him a happy new year, a year in which all his wishes and desires will be fulfilled.