The Glory Days of the Opposition

The opposition continues to be a non-opposition. True, it has sent its sclerotic blood circulation racing and improved the technique of the struggle, but the content of its opposition remains as it was, cowardly and marginal

Anti-corruption protests in Tel Aviv, January 13, 2018
Ofer Vaknin

One day, when the historians burrow through the archives and try to understand what happened in these days of darkness, they will discover that there actually was an opposition in Israel. They will even discover that it won praise for its actions over the past few weeks.

On January 12 Haaretz published a complimentary front-page article (in Hebrew) on the new leader of the resistance of the Zionist Union, MK Yoel Hasson, who presents an impolite opposition and declares that he is the real Likud.

That very same day, in the very same newspaper, an emotional opinion piece by Uri Misgav: Something great has happened in the past month to the liberal democratic camp in Israel. Suddenly it realized it had power, and started using it. And if you read the column by Yossi Verter from the same weekend, you will discover that the main credit for the vigorous opposition activity belongs to Yesh Atids Ofer Shelah, Yair Lapids clerk.

Yes, these are the great days of opposition and no less great self-appreciation. An opposition is born. Hasson and Shelah, the road warriors. The time for fun games has ended. The end of offsetting votes. And all this is to replace a right sock with a left one.

The list of achievements is as long as the filibuster: A debate of 43 hours on the Police Recommendations Bill, the canceling of offsetting vote agreements on the Supermarkets Bill. Who knows, maybe they will even manage to replace MK Robert Ilatov of Yisrael Beiteinu on the judicial appointments committee. This is how resistance is built. This is how the ethos of struggle is generated, writes Misgav. Resistance has a huge practical and moral value, and it gives life meaning and spirit. The dawn of a new day has broken.

Now life has meaning: Only one vote for the Supermarkets Bill separated between the life of liberty and the continuation of dictatorship. There is an opposition, and it is live and kicking. There is hope and a future. They will kill themselves for us over what we desire. All this libido of their opposition is channeled into money and convenience. Let the store stay closed on Shabbat and let them not touch our money. See how the opposition bullies the government, really something to celebrate. But it is a celebration of a mirage.

The opposition continues to be a non-opposition. True, it has sent its sclerotic blood circulation racing and improved the technique of the struggle, but the content of its opposition remains as it was, cowardly and marginal. After all, what is it all about? About grocery stores. Wheels spinning, going nowhere. All the all-nighters in the Knesset have left Israel in exactly the same darkness. They have not changed anything, except for the mood of a few legislators and writers. Not just because they ended in defeats – which is unavoidable in the present situation – but because they were dealing with marginal issues.

Like the anti-corruption protests on Tel Avivs Rothschild Boulevard, the parliamentary opposition does not in any way step outside the boundaries of comfort. It is fighting its battle without taking any chances. The issues are always such that they do not arouse opposition, for which they dont pay a price.

Dont touch our money (the fight against corruption) and our lifestyle (grocery stores) – thats what interests Israelis and the opposition loyally reflects this. Anything concerning the fate of our fellow man, the needy, the other – not in our backyard.

On the eve of the great ethnic cleansing of asylum seekers, the filibuster was over the police recommendations law. When Israel closes its gates to people of conscience from all over the world, who are fighting their governments, the battle is over convenience stores. There is no opposition for the deportation of refugees, closing the gates has no filibuster. And the occupation? It is not on the agenda.

The bastards changed the rules: No more trips abroad during Knesset votes. Wow. Maybe they even wont agree to offset votes for lawmakers in mourning. But their cowardice in the face of the main fight remains as it was. Have you heard anything from the Zionist Union over the shooting of a paraplegic Palestinian protester? From Yesh Atid about the racism against Africans? Thats how it is when in the two parties there is no internal opposition to anything, two silent monastic order with miniature MKs who have forgotten what it is to be critical.

If they are led by such figures as Yair Lapid and Avi Gabbay, who are only competing between themselves as to who will suck up more to the right wing, then what exactly will they fight over? A country without an opposition. That, too, is a form of government.