The Post-democratic Camp

Sadly, it looks as though there is no longer any chance of stopping the destructive race of the post-democratic camp. But we can, and in fact must, begin to record the names of its activists, their deeds, their places of work and their statements.

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Rabbi Elyakim Levanon has called for "'rabbi kings’ who will constitute the real government of the Jewish people.”
Rabbi Elyakim Levanon has called for "'rabbi kings’ who will constitute the real government of the Jewish people.”Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

First there was “Hardal” (a Hebrew acronym for ultra-Orthodox religious nationalist), a unique mixture of increasing ultra-Orthodoxy, chauvinism, messianism and greed. Why “unique”? Because the entire religious camp, including the National Religious Party when it was still wise, was once faithful to the halakha (religious law) that specifically forbids Jewish ultranationalism, Jewish messianism and Jewish belligerence. It’s no coincidence that the leader of the NRP at the time, the late Haim-Moshe Shapira, was one of the strongest opponents of the occupation of Jerusalem. In a lucid attack of prophecy, he saw what the future would bring.

And that is in fact what happened. The 1967 war released the religious genie from the bottle. Judaism was once again attacked by the lunatic fundamentalism that had destroyed the majority of the Jewish people at least once. Gush Emunim, the settlement movement, was established. Determined, stubborn and wily, this political phenomenon, which gathered strength, deserved a new name. In 1996 the nickname “Hardal” was proposed. The new name caught on.

There were some who were well aware that this was the beginning of an extremely dangerous abomination. There were some who repeatedly warned that this political monster (as opposed to the Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox) aspired to dominate, to take control and impose its philosophy on the entire country.

Nobody heeded the warnings. The government, in a rare show of foolishness and blindness, nurtured, pampered and fed Hardal and its hallucinations, and it became increasingly strong. Its dream of “settling in people’s hearts” did not succeed. But it did succeed in settling almost everywhere else – in education, real estate, the media, the army, budgets and also (with the enthusiastic help of one photogenic idiot) in the government.

Hardal is therefore no longer a suitable name. The camp has now grown sevenfold. It has exceeded the boundaries of religion, of Greater Israel, of extra-governmental activity. It now includes religious and secular people, academe and the media, the elite and the lower classes, East and West, the right wing and the indifferent, elected officials and voters, street thugs and bloggers. A huge camp. It also deserves a name of its own, and let me propose one: “The post-democratic camp.”

This is the camp that aspires to get rid of the nonsense of democracy. That sees civil rights as a nuisance, and racism as a positive trait. That sees democracy only as an aerobic exercise for legislating evil laws and a tool for preparing wicked decisions. The “post-democratic camp” is now the strongest political camp in Israel, and is growing stronger.

But post-democracy is not the end of the road. It only heralds the advent of the next stage. It won’t be the usual and traditional fascism, but a unique local variation. An almost inevitable product of two phenomena. One is historical: the fateful mistake of first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who didn’t separate religion from state. The second is sociological: the loss of self-confidence by Israel’s citizens, who feel that the earth is trembling beneath their feet, that the foundations of their national home are built on sand, that the future is becoming increasingly bleak.

These frightened people will seek refuge in the bosom of a god, in the bosom of despotism, or in the bosom of both these evils.

And the future has already been charted. It has been declared almost officially. In October 2000 “The Association of Rabbis for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel” held a conference. Among the speakers was Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, one the leaders of “religious Zionism,” as they call themselves. Here are his words:

“The moment has come to take over the baton. To return to the period of Kind David and to know that the role of rabbis is not to teach Torah but to establish leadership; ‘rabbi kings’ who will constitute the real government of the Jewish people.”

That’s what he said in public. And that is precisely where the post-democratic camp is leading. Naively, foolishly or on purpose.

Sadly, it looks as though there is no longer any chance of stopping the destructive race of the post-democratic camp. But we can, and in fact must, begin to record the names of its activists, their deeds, their places of work and their statements.

Only for the sake of history. Only for the sake of those who will research what happened here, why it happened and who was to blame.

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