The Collective Has Come Apart

In the entire history of the Jewish people, it's hard to find more hostility, disintegration, obscene language and mutual abhorrence; very rarely in Israel's history has solidarity been so weak.

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The era of "the tribes of Israel are together" has ended. We will no longer sing "Brothers Sitting Together." We will no longer dance "Let us toast this nation, and how good it is that it is like this" - not even at weddings. The process was long, but the moment of awareness has been short and cruel and is taking place right now. The tribes of Israel are more divided than at any time in the biblical or modern age. The collective has become the separate. There is no one nation in any sense, neither national nor civic. From a loose but durable federation of aspirations and points of view, the nation has become an arena for clashes, cursing and imposing one's will. It's terrible that this has happened.

In the entire history of the Jewish people, it's hard to find more hostility, disintegration, obscene language and mutual abhorrence. Very rarely in Israel's history has solidarity been so weak. Never in the country's history has such tension existed between the Diaspora and Israel. Israel's renaissance in its land is collapsing under the weight of internal disagreements that this nation had been so good at restraining during all the years of the exile and the best years of Zionism and the state.

This rift is the work of the right. No left-wing government was responsible for waging a legislative offensive on the views, protests and very political existence of its rivals. It's true that there have always been movements outside the main Jewish camp, from the Essenes to the false messiahs and the Kahanists. But this is the first time that the people in power have tried to denounce and silence such a large and broad public and turn the miracle of democratic sovereignty into a rabbinical court with yes-men.

It is precisely the nationalist right that is using the force of its political arm to smash the nation into smithereens. It has rejected "civil society" with contempt. The Zionisms of Ahad Ha'am, Dov Ber Borochov and Martin Buber are all suspected of treason. The non-Zionists, the Arabs and the Jews who are not ultra-Orthodox have long been considered a fifth column. The flag and the national anthem have become the rulers for measuring the patriotism of every potential enemy of the Jewish people and for rapping him on the knuckles until he surrenders or salutes.

Today, very few coalition members would be able to sign the Declaration of Independence. The hand that was stretched out in peace and good neighborliness has been amputated, the promise of completely equal opportunities regardless of religion, race or gender has been buried, and the neo-rightists' saw continues its work, cutting into the core of the separation of powers. Before our eyes it's sawing away at the three values of Hebrew sovereignty: freedom, justice and peace. Here's a test: Let the opposition parties submit a bill making it obligatory to read the Declaration of Independence in full in the schools from time to time. That's when the true faces of the knights of the flag and national anthem will be revealed.

It's no coincidence that the spokesmen of the new right - it's not new in composition but rather in the blatant daring of its totalistic political philosophy - have a hard time deriving inspiration and support from the founding fathers. Neither Theodor Herzl nor Ze'ev Jabotinsky, neither David Ben-Gurion nor Menachem Begin would have approved of the Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition's acts that have torn the nation asunder.

In the eyes of the founding fathers, the Jewish state was a miracle and democracy was their daily lot, so they are not the fathers of this neo-right that is quickly becoming the forerunner of a fascist Israel. I have never used this term before, and I have objected to cheapening it in our discourse. But what did the poet Natan Alterman say? "That's what they call it in all the lexicons, and sometimes it's worth calling things by their name."

And fascism, for those who have forgotten, is not the friend of civic unity and national solidarity. It's their worst enemy.



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