After 12 Years, Israel's New Government Is Restoring Some Normalcy

Zehava Galon
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Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, center, and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, left, July 2021.
Zehava Galon

The Bennett-Lapid government is giving a lot of bellyaches to Israeli humanists. It approved the Flag March, a useless provocation; it signed a scandalous agreement with the invaders of the illegal outpost of Evyatar; Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked continues to plant mines, and although the Citizenship and Entry Into Israel Law was revoked, she refuses to allow an examination of family unification files and abuses the weakest people in our society; and, of course, all the members of the government started frothing at the mouth in the Ben & Jerry’s affair, except for Meretz.

Every day confronts us with another unpleasant situation that is handled the wrong way. And yet this government, as opposed to the insanity of the past 12 years, is a normal government, which is beginning to restore the statesmanship that was lost long ago.

The previous governments were designed to serve only one person, and his legal needs. These were not governments, they were choirs of castrati who chirped for a man who aspired to be an autocrat. He proved that last week.

Knesset Member Benjamin Netanyahu contacted Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, and begged him to do … something. To provide Israel with a third vaccine, which has yet to be approved by the FDA. Netanyahu, who fanned the flames of the pandemic when he allowed the ultra-Orthodox to convene mass events, and allowed infected foreigners to enter Israel, is not really interested in the present outbreak.

As usual, he is trying to make hay from Israel’s disaster. Even now, he is doing everything possible to topple our democratic regime: He is pretending that he is still the prime minister, the title by which Likud MKs were ordered to address him, and the opposition that he manipulates like marionettes was designed for one thing only: to deny the legitimacy of the legal Israeli government.

The speed with which one incident follows another here causes us to suffer from amnesia, and we forget how only two months ago Netanyahu deliberately heated up the front in Jerusalem and once again embarked on a round of attacks in Gaza, in an attempt to prevent Yair Lapid from forming a government.

We have already forgotten how Netanyahu mired Israel in four election campaigns in two years, how he refused to return the mandate to form a government to the president in the first round, how he deceived Benny Gantz in the third round. A man who aspires to be an autocrat caused Israel to enter a merry-go-round that undermines its democratic foundation, so that he might avoid prosecution.

Therefore, in spite of all the problems, this government is still preferable. Netanyahu’s chorus of trolls – those who embedded themselves in the media outlets to destroy them, and those who embedded themselves in the Knesset – is now singing halfheartedly. Slowly but surely, we are once again learning the nature of our regime: a parliamentary system, where no one is irreplaceable – an idea whose opposite is perhaps the most toxic one for democracy.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar explained that he will soon pass a law barring someone accused of criminal behavior from being prime minister. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid asked the government to postpone the evacuation of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, and every day the government is distancing us from Netanyahu’s long night of the witches, and is accustoming us to a democratic regime that doesn’t revolve around one person.

Is that sufficient? Far from it. But it’s a beginning. We’re restoring to the public its right to rule itself. Normalcy. And that’s no small thing, certainly not after the Netanyahu years.

And when we get used to the fact that we rule ourselves, we just may begin to fix ourselves as well.

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