Oddly enough, what sparked the most outrage in what Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said about Benjamin Netanyahu behind closed doors to opponents of the former prime minister is the part that is deep, religious and thought-provoking. “One of my conclusions, the very disturbing one from this episode, is that I think we survived it, but really through the grace of God,” he said. “I really think that. He is protecting our people, that’s what I think, really.”
The reason for the outrage is the fact that Mendelblit brought the heavens, God and his grace into earthly affairs and gave him credit for the work of mortals. The group of determined protesters who stood outside the attorney general’s home in Petah Tikva, the protesters at the prime minister’s residence and secular people lacking imagination were personally offended. Activist Meni Naftali outdid himself, uploading a photo showing him demonstrating outside Mendelblit’s home with the ironic sign: “At God’s mercy.”
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The attorney general’s job requires two characteristics: decisiveness and readiness to act in the public’s interest. Mendelblit demonstrated great difficulty in deciding and more than once, when he hesitated, acted against the public interest. The two things are likely tied to one another. Undermining democracy is not something amorphous. It is very concrete, happens gradually, and its stages can be identified.
Lawmaker Galit Distal Atbaryan, whose subconscious shows the trail to the truth like the bread crumbs left behind by Hansel and Gretl in the forest, said at the latest right-wing demonstration: “The court, the prosecutor, the media and the police instigated a coup against an elected official.” In other words, if you turn it around, this was the list of Netanyahu’s targets.
If the attorney general discovered that Netanyahu was trying to destroy these institutions, he should have warned others and done something because the government is beholden to his opinion and actions. Mendelblit had the opportunities and the means to protect and defend these institutions. Without a doubt, he displayed cowardice. A gatekeeper who didn’t always wield his power. Therefore, when he talks about God’s grace he is basically admitting that he is guilty of all the accusations levelled at him. In contrast to the claim that now, while finishing his job, the attorney general is editing history and arranging a place of honor for himself, he is basically admitting humbly that he was not the one who saved us from Netanyahu. Nor was it the police or the prosecution or the press or the demonstrators; even the series of horrible decision that Netanyahu made over the last two years was not what saved us. Mendelblit is saying that there are many components and even if we manage to name them all, an unresolved piece remains. It is called grace, maybe even the grace of God.
Such a trait as self-deprecation is a religious matter. People who were involved in extricating democracy from the jaws of Netanyahu have a hard time understanding this. They want the honor of being given the credit, and they want God out of the picture. However, God reminds us of two contrasting facets: judgement and grace. Mendelblit is fearful of the first and takes comfort in the second. It’s a reminder why it’s worth adopting his modesty.
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Over the weekend we saw parts of the first interview that journalist Barak Ravid conducted with Donald Trump. Trump claimed that Israel would have been destroyed without him, and that nobody had done more for Israel and Netanyahu than he had. He also said it was a mistake for Netanyahu to rush to be the first one to congratulate Joe Biden after his victory, and that he hadn’t talked with Netanyahu since. “Fuck him,” Trump added.
The defeat of a contemptible, shallow president in the elections who denies the results – a trick that Netanyahu is trying to repeat through his party colleagues; the damage done by these two heads of state in their respective countries; and the thought of the damage they would have continued to wreak, each one helping the other, if they had been reelected, should instill in the heart of every one of us both the fear of, as well as recognition of, the grace of God.