Founded three months ago, the New Hope party has liberated hundreds of thousands of Israelis from the chains shackling them to Benjamin Netanyahu. This community was already convinced that the time had come for the prime minister’s lengthy rule to end, but it could not vote for parties that do not reflect its worldview.
In her op-ed, “The bluff of a stately right-wing” (Haaretz, March 15), Ravit Hecht described the Israeli right in schematic terms, saying that it comprises haters of Mapai, a forerunner of the Labor Party, as well as settlers and Haredim. In fact, the camp that is to the right of center is much more varied.
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The attitude toward law enforcement mentioned in her essay demonstrates the disadvantage of the binary approach, according which these institutions have either “defenders” or “enemies.” A large community within Israel is certain that the institutions of law enforcement (investigation, prosecution and the courts) are in need of repair, but it is against their destruction. The liberal nationalist public supports an independent justice system, one of the foundations of every democracy, but with balances between the various authorities.
Yes, the State Prosecutor’s Office also requires supervision and oversight, like any other governmental authority. At the same time, the last thing Israel needs is a state prosecution that is weak and frightened, submissive to the government and dependent on its good graces.
One may think the State Prosecutor’s Office has a tendency toward over prosecution (regarding public figures and in general) and that it sometimes makes mistakes, without ascribing sinister motives to its heads and staff members. One needn’t be “an enemy of the rule of law” to believe that the institution of the Attorney General’s Office is caught in a perilous trap due to the multiple hats it wears (advice, representation and prosecution) and would benefit from the introduction of reforms.
Supporters of justice reform are genuinely disturbed by how large swaths of the public have lost faith in these vital institutions. They do not endorse the inflammatory language used against these institutions, nor do they accuse them day and night of being motivated by impure interests, but they certainly do wish to see them reformed. They do not identify with the vicious and destructive “Bibist” campaign against the investigative and prosecution authorities.
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But it’s a lot easier to live in a binary world where the morally righteous who rule out any change are pitted against reckless and unbridled bulldozer operators. In actuality, the statesmanlike right is the only camp today that can bring change to Israel and save it from the abyss toward which Netanyahu and his people are dragging it.
That is why we are also seeing a rampant smear campaign against New Hope by the Bibist camp, which understands all too well that this could be the tipping point that could bring change. This is a campaign against change, with one purpose alone: to keep Israel stuck with Netanyahu’s unrestrained autocracy.
Netanyahu’s rule is not the rule of the right, but rather a soulless machine designed solely to keep him in power while destroying all vestiges of Israeli nonpartisan governance in the process. This is what I revolted against, and many have followed. Perhaps the onslaught against us from the fringes of the left shouldn’t be all that puzzling. After all, people there may find it more convenient for Netanyahu to stick around.
Gideon Sa’ar is the chairman of the New Hope party.