What Is the Israeli Right Protesting Exactly?

Israel Harel
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The right-wing protest in Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on Tuesday.
The right-wing protest in Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on Tuesday. The signs read "you don't have a mandate to erase the Jewish State."Credit: Ilan Assayag
Israel Harel

The demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square this week was not, as its organizers claimed, “the demonstration of the national camp.” It wasn’t even “the demonstration of the right.” Not in the number of participants, nor in the goals it purported to achieve (including preventing the passing of the state budget). And certainly not in its content. Most of the statements made were false, even delusional (“Bennett established the first Palestinian government in history,” “terror government”).

The speakers’ decibel levels were high, but they lacked genuine fervor. They did not express authentic pain, but rather frustration over being removed from power. Only a person totally lacking in judgment could ascribe to the current government failures that are, in theory and in practice, the failures of Benjamin Netanyahu.

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If the political world could offer an example of the theater of the absurd, then the display outside the national theater expressed it. Never mind Galit Distal Atbaryan (“government of malice”) and Miri Regev (“in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood is in prison, here, in the parliament. Shame.”) But what was Bezalel Smotrich doing there? He is in a completely different league – in his deep, sincere belief in his principles (even the erroneous ones) and in his leadership and executive skills.

In the heat of the moment he too committed the sin of exaggeration, accusing the Bennett-Lapid government of blocking progress toward a “genuine Jewish and democratic state,” of halting settlement in the Negev and in Judea and Samaria and of thwarting “reform of the courts.” In the past dozen years, Bezalel, who was it who held the keys to accelerating, or blocking, the progress toward a “genuine Jewish and democratic state”: Naftali Bennett? Ayelet Shaked?

Netanyahu had the required majority, and during Donald Trump’s term also a bright-green light, to build tens of thousands of apartments in Judea and Samaria, to impose Israeli law and justice in the Jordan Valley and most certainly for massive construction in Greater Jerusalem. And who blocked “the settlement of the Negev and Judea and Samaria?” You know these failures well, as the founding director of Regavim, one of the most active and effective bodies in preserving national land and advancing, despite the obstacles placed by Netanyahu, Jewish settlement in the Negev, the Galilee and in Judea and Samaria.

Why, just last month the “government of malice and terror” approved the construction of 3,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria. This step was taken after years of foot-dragging by the Netanyahu government (including the one you were in), to the chagrin of the U.S. administration and even as Meretz and the Labor Party gritted their teeth.

Due to his unique qualities and his position as head of a party that is gaining momentum, I focus on Smotrich and not on the spineless creatures who blindly follow after the caprices of the man whose sole creed is “L’etat, c’est moi.” How can such a man accuse the current government of preventing “the reform of the courts” while knowing that it was Netanyahu who torpedoed the attempts, including by Shaked, to reduce the imperialist authorities of the Supreme Court.

Bennett and Shaked committed an unforgivable moral and leadership sin: defrauding their voters (of which I am one). However, those who are disappointed with the national camp and who place the state’s welfare above the camp’s, must overcome their anger and wish the government success. Bennett is likely to be a better prime minister than his predecessor, certainly better than the three who preceded Netanyahu, including two Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

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