rotschild boulevard tent city - Oren ZIv
The tent protest city in Tel Aviv's Rotschild Boulevard at the height of the summer's social protests. Photo by Oren Ziv
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The Knesset's winter session, which opens on Sunday, begins in a very different atmosphere than that of its predecessor. The trepidation of the cabinet and right-wing parties over the UN resolution to recognize a Palestinian state vanished in light of the vote's deferral. The riots and demonstrations for which the security forces prepared failed to materialize. However, an unprecedented social protest burst forth from an unexpected direction.

The summer's protests proved to the public that it has the ability to emerge from its passive, submissive state and take to the streets, to fight and to affect the socioeconomic agenda. And despite causing disagreements among various political and civil society groups, the recommendations of the Trajtenberg committee heralded the possibility of changing not only government policy but also, and most importantly, the public debate.

The balance of political forces also changed. Kadima, the leading opposition party, slumped in the polls while the seemingly moribund Labor Party breathed new life into itself and its members: It held a fascinating primary campaign and chose a new chairwoman who champions a social agenda. Such developments draw attention, but they seem unlikely to be capable of significantly changing the distribution of political blocs and, in consequence, legislative trends.

In this respect the current Knesset is very dishonorable. The number of draft laws with a foul, antidemocratic stench that were proposed, and the number of these that passed first, second and third readings is concerning. Their sponsors promise to renew the barrage of such bills.

One scheduled for imminent deliberation is the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, spearheaded by MK Avi Dichter (Kadima ). This bill seeks to brutally stamp out Israel's Declaration of Independence and reinforce the supremacy of the Jewish majority at the expense of the rights of minorities.

MKs who hold precious the ideas of democracy and civil rights must oppose this draft law and the other bills that seek to undermine the democratic foundation of the state, even if such opposition means violating party discipline. They must remember that a black flag never flies above antidemocratic laws.