Why Not a Jerusalem Flag March Every Day?

Yossi Klein
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Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich, with other Jewish ultranationalists during the "Flags March" in Jerusalem, June 2021.
Yossi Klein

Our Donald Trump hasn’t left. Imagine that their Trump stuck around even after the storming of the Capitol, imagine that he kept saying that nothing is legitimate, not the new administration or the laws that brought it into being. Theirs has gone and ours stayed. Theirs has gone and ours moved aside, but the stench remains. This it not America. The lack of constitution in Jerusalem is not the same as the constitution there. The constitution compelled their Trump to leave. Our lack of a constitution is keeping our Trump around.

We don’t have a tradition or a constitution like the United States. We have a divided nation. One part was ready to pounce on the other, and only Benjamin Netanyahu stood between them. He stood at the center of the conflict, the fire was directed at him. It was easy to hate him and not his supporters. He nurtured the hate, but he didn’t create it. Now that he has lost his standing, it’s a shame to waste it on him.

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Let’s pour it out on one another. It was always disguised as political debate. But hatred lies at its base too. A deep-rooted, primitive hatred. Hatred for anyone who isn’t the same as me. Hatred between secular and ultra-Orthodox, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, whites and blacks, a generalized and not a personal hatred (Everyone has the Arab, Haredi, Ashkenazi or Mizrahi whom they don’t hate). Netanyahu’s face was drawn on the bullseye. But when he goes, when he really goes, the old, familiar hatreds will return.

There will be no rules in this conflict. There will be scratching and pinching and blows below the belt. Because Netanyahu broke the rules of the game. Not only did he not accept the results of the parliamentary system that led to his downfall, but he is not willing to accept anything in this country – not its laws, not its justice system, not the state itself, really. Yallah, burn it all down, he says. Maintaining power is more important to him than the country itself.

If you ask him, destruction is an acceptable outcome. One mustn’t compare, but if Netanyahu spoke “in the name of the millions” like Gideon Hausner, then I will permit myself to do so too. My comparison is to the Weimar Republic. See its end and understand where we are headed. The end begins with a weak government, goes from there to a street that exploits its weakness and sparks yearning for a strongman who will impose law and order and scare Iran.

We have someone like this already, who feels unjustly persecuted, and takes refuge in power. He has no patience to go through a lengthy and exhausting democratic process on his way to power. He’ll take a shortcut. The shortcut passes through the streets. Only chaos in the streets will send the message. He has no regiments at the ready, but chaos doesn’t require that. All it takes is a handful, just one Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The state is surrendering to the terror of a handful by the name of Im Tirzu. This handful can never be satisfied. One Flag March a month – so why not one every day? And why only in Jerusalem and not in Umm al-Fahm? What about a Goats March in memory of the sacrifices brought to the Temple Mount? Never mind, it’s a lot easier to bomb Gaza than to stop Im Tirzu.

Chaos is the new name of politics. The ousted ruler and his high priests of hatred will go wild as they speak passionately about “freedom of expression” and “unity.” They’ve made lying into a real art. A former minister, even the most junior one, can look you right in the eye and without batting an eyelash say that this is a “leftist government” and a “government of traitors” and then say no more, because you know what you’re supposed to do with traitors.

The hatred is fed by the terror of the loss of power. What will become of the thousands of dubious positions that a long and corrupt regime has left behind? What will Miri Regev say to all the laid-off folks who got their positions due to connections? How will Gila Gamliel look these people in the eye? Can we really expect them to be okay with knowing that “they’re celebrating in Tehran”? The supreme leader said that this government is putting their lives in danger. Endangering lives! Isn’t that reason enough to take to the streets?

Netanyahu is more dangerous now than ever. A government whose goal is “to preserve the status quo” is temporary by nature. It won’t defend us from him. For him, the enemy will be at the gate even in the opposition. During the recent Gaza conflict, we saw that he nurtures and inflates this enemy to suit his needs. We used to think that the enemy, Hamas or Iran, was a made-to-order enemy, an enemy that was a side in our civil war.

The enemy now is not Iran, but the disorder and chaos. “With blood and fire, Judah fell, with blood and fire it will rise,” they sang over a hundred years ago. With blood and fire, it will fall, he is singing now.

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