It feels as if the country has entered a state of post-traumatic stress since Sunday. After 12 years of abuse, in which it was imprisoned and held for ransom, the country was freed from its captors. Bedazzled by the sunlight, we slowly began to understand what we had undergone. Now we're seeking to regain the years we've lost. In those first moments there were embraces, dances, and jumps into empty fountains, reminiscent of the collapse of the Soviet Union collapsed, South Africa after apartheid ended, or Iraq after Saddam Hussein was deposed.
The political commentary at the end of the Netanyahu era resembles the prognosis of a patient released from forced hospitalization. Pseudo-intellectuals prattle about the hegemony that remains in place, and the school of identity politics is torn between realizing that its theory is no longer valid and trying to adapt it to the new situation.
The curators of the elites’ museum are trying to identify the deep currents that brought about the revolution that ended the Blue Period, but haven’t yet decided if the new look belongs to the absurd, surrealistic or post-modern streams.
Psychology, political history, philosophy, sociology and the media will undoubtedly be the big winners, after years of waiting for a shake-up that would remove the cobwebs. We are bracing ourselves for studies, symposiums, conferences, workshops, documentaries and musicals about the regime that ruled here for 17 percent of the state’s existence, a speck in terms of the eternal state.
It would behoove us to relax. What happened was an upheaval, but not a revolution. While indeed monarchic rule has been replaced by a parliamentary government – a huge achievement that is still difficult to digest and assimilate – the danger has not yet passed.
It’s natural for every citizen to want this new government to fulfill all of our desires: an improved educational system, reduced unemployment, annexation of the territories or the two-state solution, eradicating terror in Arab communities along with demolishing illegal structures in the Negev, public transportation on Shabbat and civil marriage. From this moment on, every such mission will be an existential test for the government; every declaration or piece of legislation will determine how long it will last.
The coalition will be expected to satisfy all these desires and wishes and fill all the sinkholes created over the past 12 years, otherwise it will not have been worth it, people will say. In their eyes, crushing the false belief that it was impossible to remove Netanyahu, that he’s in a different league, eternal like the sun, will be worthless if there won’t also be some tangible achievements.
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It’s for this reason that Netanyahu remains in waiting, just around the corner. When he threatened, “We’ll be back, soon,” he made it clear that he expects the coalition to crack quickly, to be speedily followed by the government’s collapse. Then we’ll have a fifth election, and Netanyahu’s trial will be postponed again. That’s why there’s an urgent, vital need to protect the state from the return of Bibi and Bibi-ism, to boost its immune system and build strong barriers that won’t allow anyone to snatch democracy away.
A law that limits a prime minister to two consecutive terms is a fundamental condition for preventing government corruption, and a law blocking someone under indictment from serving as prime minister – even if his trial isn’t over – is crucial to countering the specific threat Netanyahu poses. These two laws are like two doses of vaccine: They may not assure the new government’s long life, but they will maintain the objective for which it was formed, even after it collapses.
Before the momentum that’s keeping this government together is lost; before the long knives come out and the deserters flee, this government must bolster their defenses. The coalition parties and the voters who supported them agreed to grit their teeth, swallow their pride, hold their noses and allow this government to succeed, and such legislation is the only reason for this. Without it, this upheaval will quickly die out.