Opinion

Let the Country Burn

PM Netanyahu on a boat off the coast of Eilat, November 3, 2019
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

After pouring a jerrican of gasoline on the police and prosecutors, after handing burning torches to the ministers in charge of the legal system and police, and after signaling them to come out against the organizations they’re responsible for, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu volunteered — without a drop of shame — to put out the fire that he himself set. The pyromaniac in the prime minister’s residence is now the responsible adult flying solo in his supertanker through Israel’s skies on his national firefighting mission.

“Even though the intimidation of state witness Nir Hefetz is a very serious affair and should worry every citizen, we must honor the gag order imposed by the court,” the Prime Minister’s Office said. O Captain! My Captain!

The final years of Netanyahu’s rule have become a sort of social experiment; they’re reminiscent of the film “The Wave” that Israelis once had to watch in school. The movie focuses on a real experiment by a teacher in a northern California high school in 1967; he tried to show his students the vulnerability of democratic societies to fascism, and to answer the question of how blind obedience is possible.

Like the students in the experiment, I could almost hear Justice Minister Amir Ohana muttering “strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action, strength through pride.”

In his Likud party, the same as in Palo Alto, the experiment is the finest hour of stool pigeons, lackeys and the spineless. Ohana is the poster boy of the social experiment: gay and a Mizrahi Jew, his hand didn’t tremble when in the so-called nation-state law he erased the entry on equality — the section that paved the way for someone from his background to reach the centers of power and the heart of the consensus.

Now that he has been accepted into the majority group, he has slammed the door on equality for those next in line — and why should he care about the minorities aspiring to equality? A servant when he reigneth.

Unfortunately none of this is an experiment. What can a country do when cabinet members are accusing the police and prosecutors of framing people and sound like the protesters calling Israel a police state? What we have here is a dangerous reversal of roles. After all, these cries are reserved for the little people suffering under the strong arm of the government and the system of law enforcement.

Cabinet members are turning the public against the country’s institutions using revolutionary language. They’re adopting the discourse of government protest, and gaining empathy — because one traffic ticket is enough to make you hate the police, and why should someone volunteer to defend the police and their threatening methods?

But where exactly are Bibi and his cabinet members heading? How far are they willing to go with the slander they’re spreading? After all, if the police no longer fulfill their purpose and protect the regime, and have become a body that endangers the regime’s existence, who’s supposed to protect the regime from the police? The army?

Justice Minister Amir Ohana, Jerusalem, October 29, 2019
Emil Salman

Will army chief of staff Aviv Kochavi stop the “leader of the revolution” — former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich? Will Border Police officers arrest the three “conspirators” against Netanyahu: Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and prosecutor Liat Ben Ari?

Do Netanyahu and his ministers intend to do something with these harsh accusations, or will they leave things the way they are? And then, how will it be possible to take what they say seriously? If the legal system has truly been captured from the inside by a subversive cell that aims to overthrow the government by framing people, how is it possible to expect citizens to respect the authority of the law in this country? Who can guarantee to the people that the prosecution won’t frame them?

Netanyahu’s office said that only after it has finished filling the jerricans with gasoline and burned down what remains of the country will it be able to comment and answer these questions.