Opinion

Israel, Not Quite Independent and Not Quite Democratic

We have not achieved the Zionist dream, of a country that will be a safe haven for the Jewish people, even after 69 years of 'independence' and 50 years since the Six-Day War

Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, on April 23, 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

This week, between Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day, is the most important week of the year. It summarizes the revolution that the Jewish people underwent in the 20th century. From Holocaust to rebirth to independence. From the methodical murder of the six million to Israel’s battlefields, and from there to the establishment of the state.

All of this would not have been possible without the sense of collective guilt of the countries of the world, which stood by and did nothing to stop the Nazi extermination machine. Without the horrors of the Holocaust, the United Nations would not have voted in November 1947 for the Partition Plan. Without the sense of guilt that the Allies did not bomb even the railway lines and the gas chambers in the extermination camps, we would not have received money, weapons and political support through the years.

And so it is our moral obligation to tell and retell the fate of the six million, and to continue to send delegations of young people to the March of the Living between Auschwitz and Birkenau, so they can see with their own eyes the furnaces in which our people were turned into smoke.

We have a similar obligation to the 24,000 soldiers who fell in Israel’s wars. Without their sacrifice we would not have a state or independence, and in fact, we would not be alive. And so Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day are the essence of Israel.

But this is where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cynical politics come in. He turns the Holocaust into his main propaganda tool. From his point of view, it’s all Holocaust. It’s Iran, planning a second holocaust for us; it’s the Palestinians, who want to wipe us out as in the Holocaust; it’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has become Hitler; and it’s Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, that stab the nation in the back and lead us to another holocaust. From now on, meeting with the German foreign minister will also not be allowed, because he spoke to Breaking the Silence. Fortunately, President Reuven Rivlin saved our honor and did meet with Sigmar Gabriel. After all, only in a nondemocratic country are meetings banned with opposition groups that criticize the government.

All of this taken together shows that we still have not achieved independence and democracy in the full sense of the words. We have not achieved the Zionist dream, of a country that will be a safe haven for the Jewish people, even after 69 years of “independence” and 50 years since the Six-Day War. They say that the Six-Day War was the shortest war, but in fact it has not yet ended. Its unplanned outcome was the occupation, which is eating us up from the inside, destroying us morally, turning us into a violent country that controls another people and does not allow us to be truly independent and democratic.

The undermining of democracy can also be seen in public discourse, which has become more extreme and violent with every passing year. “Left” has become a curse word, and anyone who thinks differently from the government is called a traitor. The court is a target and so is the media, because they dare to not toe the government’s line.

There was a time when Gush Emunim’s Moshe Levinger and Hanan Porat determined our fate. They led the state, unwillingly, to the insanity of the settlements. Now it’s their successors, members of Habayit Hayehudi, who are leading us to phase 2 of the plan: the annexation of 60 percent of the West Bank (Area C). The moment that happens, we will quickly deteriorate into rebellion and war. That will also lead to international sanctions and boycotts. After all, the more time that passes, the fewer Holocaust survivors there are, and the protective layer they provide us with is thinning out.

Such an annexation will give the final stamp of approval on an apartheid state, which by oppressive military rule controls 2.5 million Palestinians without rights in Areas A and B. It will be a state without democracy, not Jewish, not safe, dependent on the world, and thus, not independent.