Opinion

The Israeli Lawmaker Who Embraces Apartheid

Inspired by President Donald Trump, Likud MK Miki Zohar believes that ignoring the truth, fairness and even pragmatic realism is possible.

MK Miki Zohar (Likud)
Olivier Fitoussi

There were times when I thought my friends and I were on the right track. There were plenty of times when I knew we were mistaken. Sometimes we saw the future clearly, and sometimes we were just plain wrong. But I never came to the conclusion that I’ve reached now: that we were and remain stupid and naive.

Yes, stupid and naive. Once, we thought a problem was a problem and a solution was a solution. Now it turns out that the new sages have exceeded us in their “creativity”: They say there’s no problem so we don’t need a solution.

After the Land of Israel Movement was established in the 1960s, many of its founders understood that there was no way to annex the territories and at the same time preserve Israel’s democracy.

Others, like President Reuven Rivlin, said that the entire homeland belongs to the Jewish people and we want full sovereignty over it, but we have to make sure we preserve our democracy. They understood the risk Israel was taking – but they preferred to take the chance.

They, too, were stupid. They, too, were naive. They, too, didn’t understand that all the dilemmas that plagued them were fundamentally erroneous. That everything that seemed to them contradictory, paradoxical or impossible was actually really easy to fix, with no effort.

So, for example, MK Miki Zohar (Likud), hitherto best known for the loud threat he leveled at coalition chairman David Bitan – “I don’t care about anyone except for Miki Zohar” – and who surprised us with his contribution to the ideological debate, simply suggests that we impose Israeli sovereignty on the territories and give its Arabs civil rights. Except for one little thing: the right to vote in Knesset elections.

See how simple it is? With just a flick of the tongue, Zohar has given us a new definition of democracy. After his party has gnawed away at human and civil rights, particularly for minorities, why do the Arabs need the right to vote?

After Rivlin recovers from the impact of Zohar’s discovery, he’ll understand that in the piles of garbage that surround us, anything goes. He’ll see that people will write on social networks: “Zohar is wise and brave.” We, the stupid and naive ones, will manage to tweet that Zohar is proposing an apartheid state. But the “righteous ones” will rise up and say that there’s nothing to worry about, because “a Jew can’t lead apartheid.”

And while everyone is arguing about it, Zohar will look straight into the camera and say bluntly, “Yes, that’s right, apartheid. So what?” And then there will be people on social media who’ll ask what’s so bad about apartheid – surely it’s better than what the left wants? Arabs to vote and determine the country’s fate.

It’s hard to believe this racist, simplistic and shameless culture could have arisen and flourished, had not a man without shame and inhibitions become president of the most important country in the world. Zohar looks at this new “statue of liberty” and joins all those seeking to replicate his success story: those who believe that ignoring the truth, fairness and even pragmatic realism is possible.

Zohar and President Donald Trump’s other fans don’t care that he’s liable to be the focus of investigations into his ties with President Vladimir Putin during the election campaign. Nor do they care that he makes up stories about his predecessor, Barack Obama. After all, he’s not the first person to be victimized by relentless verbiage that spares the dignity of no man. Everything goes, including turning Hillary Clinton into “the most corrupt woman in the world,” denying that she got three million more votes than he did because those were “forgeries,” and thereby proving that the way to meteoric success lies in the complete abandonment of any sense of shame.

Does it have to be this way? Is this the way of the world? Are Miki Zohar and his apartheid the new normal? Have we really been so stupid until now?