Israelis' Ideal State: A Country Without Criticism

Let us imagine the dream-country of most Israelis - without criticism, neither from within nor from without. It speaks in one voice and is eternally united, with devotion and cohesion; all-Jewish, that goes without saying.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Let us imagine the dream-country of most Israelis - without criticism, neither from within nor from without. It speaks in one voice and is eternally united, with devotion and cohesion; all-Jewish, that goes without saying. It stands unanimously behind its government, every government, and also, of course, behind its army, the Shin Bet security service and the Mossad espionage agency - Israel's heroes.

There is not even a single "snitch," no human rights organizations or peace movements, no nonprofit associations and no critical reports that are published here, or, heaven forbid, abroad. Its press never criticizes, never exposes, never investigates, publishing nothing but praise and admiration for the government and the state. It recites official statements and quotes from government and security briefings.

Every war that this dream-country wages is met immediately by nothing but cheers of approval. Any atrocity it commits in the occupied territories automatically earns across-the-board support - the most moral, the most just, the most security-oriented, in harmony. All residents must swear their allegiance, all those who wish to visit, too. Those who are faithful to Israel are welcome. All the rest must take the first plane (or truck ) out. In short, the country of one's dreams.

But now let's answer truthfully. Is that really the country we wound want to live in? Moreover, would the world that is always-against-us appreciate and like Israel better if that was how we looked and spoke, uniform and devoid of all self-criticism?

The growing campaign of incitement in Israeli society against anyone who dares to voice criticism within on the grounds that will cause damage without is a campaign of mudslinging and lies. The shreds of Israel's image of decency abroad is based solely on the fact that there is still a degree of freedom and criticism here. The apathy and public silence in response to this slander campaign reinforce the apprehension that this is truly how the state of dreams appears to most Israelis.

Not just the extreme right, for whom this is a matter of doctrine, but the mainstream. Kadima Knesset members introduce fascist, anti-democratic bills, university faculty members are silent when their colleagues are thrown out, most of the media outlets are busy instilling fear and stirring up base instincts, or with trivial nonsense. The Supreme Court has been weakened and is silent, like the president, who in any event takes care not to comment on such situations in order to avoid annoying anyone.

Until now, the world admired Israel first and foremost because it was different from this land of dreams. From the day the state was founded the world applauded "the only democracy in the Middle East" as such. The kibbutz became an object of worldwide admiration, perhaps Israel's greatest ever, simply by dint of its egalitarian, democratic nature. Israel's technological, scientific, economic, cultural, agricultural and military achievements would be insignificant were they those of a dictatorship. Were Israel not a democracy, 100 brilliant military victories and 1,000 global technological inventions would not be considered great achievements.

Now the false patriots, who speak of nationalism and believe in loyalty, seek to destroy their state's greatest, most important achievements. They are fed up with democracy. The damage they are causing the country and its image is incomparably greater than the supposed damage caused by all those critics who still remain. One day of phosphorus bombs on Gaza caused more damage to Israel's image than all the reports by Breaking the Silence, B'Tselem and the Goldstone committee together, and the current campaign to undermine democracy is the most pernicious of all.

To our great misfortune, almost no one remains who will stop them. They seek to create the dream-country of the majority, and have gone a considerable distance toward advancing it. Pay attention to recent events - Not a day goes by without some dangerous draft law, threatening declaration, deportation from Ben-Gurion National Airport, political arrest, police violence, persecution of foreigners, judicial discrimination or incitement against any would-be critics.

To expel, destroy, punish, arrest, silence and make illegal: One half of the country undermines the fragile fabric of the government, while the other half remains silent. And who is considered the enemy of the people? Those who dare to criticize this state of affairs.



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