Israel's Right-wing Government Is Pulling the Country Into an Abyss

Israel's right-wing government is close to loosening the last ties of any reasonable order. The events now coming to light reflect not chaos, but rather a systematic disassembly.

Avirama Golan
Avirama Golan
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The new governmentCredit: GPO
Avirama Golan
Avirama Golan

Sometimes even the most shopworn cliché can come back to life. “In times of war” (which later became “when the cannons roar”), “the muses fall silent” is attributed to Cicero, but it seems he actually said, “In times of war, the law falls silent.” He himself learned the dirty way how the human order crashes in times of war. Yet the historic moves that he led were conducted not on the battlefield but in the savage arena of an empire that imploded due to corruption and a government drunk on power.

Even without going into the details of the tangle that is pulling Israel into the abyss, it is clear that the right-wing government is close to loosening the last ties of any reasonable order. The events coming to light reflect not chaos, as many claim, but rather a systematic disassembly.

The corruption in the law enforcement system, of which a former district attorney and senior police officials are only the tip of the iceberg, not only dangerously undermines public trust in the courts and the police but also plays into the hands of those who seek the system’s collapse. Granted, some pundits are sure that Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked will not succeed in implementing her policies — because all her predecessors tried and failed, because the Supreme Court is strong and other consoling thoughts. But they ignore the difference between a brilliant but absent-minded professor and a diligent, exacting and determined politician.

Others believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s takeover of the media stems from vengeance, paranoia and a sense of grievance.In their preoccupation with gossipy psychology, they have forgotten the deep web of interests that are the very heart of the Netanyahu government. In contrast to other rulers in our neighborhood, like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Netanyahu’s liquidation of the free press is meant to serve the two-faced god, Sheldon Adelson-Netanyahu and their intertwined interests, politics and economics. He always wanted to do it, and now he can.

The reactions to the “experiment” of segregated buses also ignored the context. Everyone focused on the disconnect between Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, taking consolation in the idea that it was a “typical Israeli snafu” and forgetting the substance, that segregation is nothing new here. The Palestinians are not considered human beings, and the ethnoracist logic of the settlements has been definitively internalized.

Anyone who doesn’t understand this is invited to read the transcript of the discussion on segregating buses in a subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (Haaretz, October 29, 2014). The Palestinian, one speaker said, feels like a victor on the bus, because he gets to ride with Jewish girls. Clearly, a supreme security interest is at stake.

The thread tying all of these together, as well as other issues such as the enormous robbery of state funds for the settlements and the religious establishment, the arrest of a 6-year-old (!) Palestinian boy, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Bedouin town of Umm al-Hiran and Netanyahu’s historic declaration that “Jerusalem has always been and will always be the capital of the Jewish people alone,” is the feeling that, just as in wartime, all the rules vital to maintaining a democratic society have been broken. And, as is customary here in wartime, the government can run wild, because there’s nobody on the other side.

In the place where the leftist alternative was supposed to be, there’s a complete vacuum. Those who posed as the left offered neither a different agenda nor leadership, the news media suffer from fear and weakness, and well-oiled public relations systems connect the former to the latter above the heads of the citizens.

This evil regime won’t be stopped by this pretend alternative, but only by a leftist stance that is genuine and bold on both social issues and the Palestinian conflict. As long as that doesn’t exist, the free-for-all will only get worse.