The State of Israel Is Turning Into a One-time Historic Event

Political society is disintegrating and the political crisis that is the occupation is too deep for the right-wing government to extricate us.

Yitzhak Laor
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Education Minister Naftali Bennett at a Knesset faction meeting, July 20, 2015.Credit: Michal Fattal
Yitzhak Laor

Since 1977, the Likud has not stopped reinventing our national-religious existence. In 1982, for example, remains kept in storage after being found in 1964 during the Nahal Hever archeological excavations were buried in a full military ceremony. It is not known on what Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren based his decision, a few months after the withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and a short time before the invasion of Lebanon, that these 1,800-year-old-bones were really those of Bar Kochba rebels against the Romans; but the state, military, helicopters, honor guard, chief rabbis and Prime Minister Menachem Begin all participated in the ceremony. Since then there have been lots of ceremonies, from the Western Wall to Birkenau, an assembly line for nationalists.

The truth? No country can be modest, sending its citizens a letter, for example along with an identity card: Dear citizens, I am just an apparatus. Pay taxes, follow the law. Whoever wants to stand out should invent algorithms, write poetry, play Beethovens Op. 111; there is nothing special about me. In order to receive legitimacy from their citizens, states must continually become events, and reproduce its citizens as witnesses to that extraordinary event, the state. A totem.

Britain has been blessed with its royal family, and its princes coupling and siring, and it has lords and Capulets, and a national soccer team and memorial days. France builds, occasionally, large museums, and it has a soccer team – Allez les bleus! – and Bastille Day. Germany interests its citizens with discussions on the economy (Wirtschaft,) the European Union, the death of writers and the reunification of Germany and its soccer team. The United States elects an emperor, and the elections do not look like a choice between two rivals from the management of the same bank; but create the Home of the Free. Who remembers, during the lengthening celebration, from the primaries through the inauguration, that there are now 2.3 million people sitting in its prisons, a quarter of all the prisoners inthe world?

We dont have a soccer team or a royal family; and the primaries look like our soccer. On the other hand, we have a right wing government and a continuing crisis of the apparatus called a state; in other words, political society is disintegrating and the political crisis that is the occupation is too deep for the right-wing government to extricate us. That is why we have more and more wars, and also Jewish holidays, all of which become national holidays. From Rosh Hashanah to Tisha Beav, and two Holocaust memorial days, and a memorial day for the fallen, and more memorial days for the various wars, and Jerusalem Day, and the torch lighting ceremony, and the Israel Prize awards ceremony, and it is all on television.

Thanks to this national repertoire and the school curriculum, the State of Israel is turning into a one-time historic event, daily and always more national-religious. Israeli crypto-fascism is not a response to a single event, but the result of turning the state into thickening content, daily, all day, on infinite sites and with military operations at the head. When the operation really goes bad, such as Operation Protective Edge, they dont stop creating events to honor it. Since there were a great many Israeli dead in that operation, the ideology is still working overtime.

And after Protective Edge Naftali Bennett was fitted for us, like a glove for a hand stained with blood. Not only not apologizing, but proudly national-religious. And after the elections we woke up with a lot of Bennetts. Arrogant, back-slapping persecutors of asylum seekers and Palestinians, watching with a shrug of the shoulders the dying hunger strikers. And the spirit of the people blows over the abyss. This is the new right, trampling what remains. Ayelet Shaked leads the campaign against the High Court of Justice, Miri Regev the cultural revolution, Danny Danon wears a dunces hat and is already explaining to the world how special we are.

The new right has enlisted the settlers, south Tel Aviv and, a tiny footnote, the Mizrahi radicals from Facebook. A lot of commotion against the elites. And the real is happening in secret like gluttony at night: Netanyahu and his Steinitz, dismissals, tycoons, gas, dollars. For our country, of course.

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