Save Israeli Democracy Before War With Iran Begins

Barak chose to make his democracy-trampling move for the sake of a leader more hostile to democracy than any of his predecessors, and for the purpose of intensifying the government's incitement against democracy.

Fifteen years ago, Shimon Peres turned his back on Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. In a cynical move, he decided to try to get elected on his own and make others forget the assassination. Thus did Peres make an important contribution to a new version of the biblical tragedy of Navot's vineyard. For seven months after organizing rallies with slogans like "We will expel Rabin in fire and blood," Benjamin Netanyahu moved into the slain prime minister's residence.

Now, Barak is going even further than Peres in his betrayal of Rabin. Barak chose to make his democracy-trampling move for the sake of a leader more hostile to democracy than any of his predecessors, and for the purpose of intensifying the government's incitement against democracy. At the very height of a wave of racist and anti-democratic sentiment, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to encourage the Knesset to investigate Israeli citizens - thereby changing the form of government from democracy to dictatorship - Barak chose to desert to Netanyahu's ranks.

Thus did Barak bestow a name on his four ministers. This isn't merely a gang of four, but the Gang of November 4, after the date in 1995 when Rabin was assassinated.

Barak's decision gives those who tend to repress things a chance to understand what has happened here since Yigal Amir fired his three fatal shots. "No partner" is not the conclusion of a sobered-up left, but part of a world that deliberately rose up against the Oslo Accords.

Netanyahu, Barak and Ariel Sharon all purposely refused to implement Oslo 2 - the agreement for which Rabin was killed, and which promised the Palestinians most of the West Bank, in three stages, within nine months. And thus the entire region entered an era of force. It has been well-established that the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon will get nothing from Israel of its own good will; from now on, only force will speak.

The date of the assassination is not the only November that Barak's gang recalls. There is also this past November, when not only did the government decide that settlements are preferable to peace, but it staged a drama that clarified its position as a government of only two issues: Iran and real estate.

If the attack on Iran for which this coalition was formed actually takes place, only the survivors will know about it. But the government is pushing the real estate issue with no restraints. And we're not just talking about the real estate changes that will take place in the Tel Aviv area after a war.

This past November, the "Iran-real estate" government led an alliance in support of a bill to allow municipal admission committees to adopt discriminatory practices. That gave the extremist Lieberman-style racists a chance to join up with the leaders of what used to be the pioneer movement.

This new world was described well by the minister pulling the strings, Shalom Simhon. He said that if a Mizrahi resident of his moshav, Even Menahem, were allowed to live in an Ashkenazi moshav, that would do an injustice to the that person, because Mizrahim, or Jews of Middle Eastern descent, wouldn't fit into the Ashkenazi social-cultural fabric.

Simhon is not alone. A day before the gang of four stepped out of the shadows, Israel Radio presenter Yaron Dekel, who hosts the show "Hakol Diburim" ("It's All Talk" ), said it was "the intellectuals" who constitute the greatest threat to Israeli democracy, much greater than the rabbis urging Jews not to rent or sell homes to non-Jews and the inflammatory letters they drafted. That's because a small group of researchers and artists protested the decision by those who present themselves as supporters of democracy, especially the Labor ministers, to repeat the mistake of the centrists in 1930s Europe who joined hands with the forces that rose up against democracy.

It's just the wind, a mother tells her child in a well-known Hebrew poem. The word ruah, wind, also means intellectualism, as well as ideas, morals and norms. But for Israel's emerging dictatorship of ends, words do not express a vision; they are just tools of psychological warfare, enabling important ideas to be dismissed as "mere words."

As with the settlement project, whose tower and stockade method has been turned against Israel, the men of action have now begun taking action against their fellow citizens. But it's not just in the story of Navot's vineyard that the criminal rulers, like the child in the poem, are left inconsolable in the end.

The extent to which our government's leaders scorn words gives us no joy, and neither does the fact that what Barak's announcement of the "dawn of a new day" actually sheds light on is Rabin's assassin and his three shots. After all, after three comes four - the gang of four.

All the same, most Israeli citizens still prefer democracy and freedom, and words. If they act now, intellectualism may yet achieve victory a moment before the war with Iran begins.