Longing for Egypt's General Sissi

After years of degeneration, enlightened Israeli society has lost the ability to act within the parameters of democracy and absorb the principle of majority rule. It no longer knows how to love and respect the people. But no enlightened general will rescue us.

Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit
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Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit

The new Israeli hero is an Egyptian figure − General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. You don’t need an especially discerning eye to see the Israeli elite’s deep sympathy and barely concealed admiration for the commander of our large southern neighbor’s armed forces. The one who has just imprisoned the elected president who appointed him to his position.

While the U.S. administration’s stomach is turning at the headlong collision between General al-Sissi’s undemocratic enlightenment and Mohammed Morsi’s unenlightened democracy, Israel has no doubts. We’re all for Sissi. We’re all for the military coup d’etat. We’re all for the right of clean-shaven generals who were educated in America to end the rule of an elected, bearded leader, who was also educated in America and who was supposed to subordinate the generals to his authority.

The Israeli yearning for Sissi is two-fold. Looking out, we seek friendly dictators who will rule the hostile Arab masses surrounding us. But when we look in, many of us long for a supreme commander of our own who will limit the powers of the elected political leadership we loathe.

It’s no accident that Maj. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi had public sympathy when his men collected slanderous material about an elected defense minister. It’s no aberration that Meir Dagan and Yuval Diskin had public support when they betrayed the trust of an elected prime minister. It’s not by chance that Israel is the only democracy in the world in which the left puts counter-intelligence commanders on a pedestal.

Since the 1977 political upheaval, the Israeli center-left elite has lifted its eyes to the promise of salvation embodied by generals, master spies and senior secret policemen. The expectation is unmistakable: Men in uniform with the same ideological DNA as ours will save the homeland from the unfit, elected governments that the ignorant masses voted for in their great stupidity.

The problem is one of depth. While the democratic elite in Israel has internalized the ideas of human rights and minority rights, it has not internalized the idea of “the people have had their say.” It does not treat elections and their results with trembling and awe. Our political life has yet to acquire the mental habit of bowing one’s head before the voter’s decision. There is no fearful respect for the prime minister, finance minister and justice minister. There is no understanding that elected officials − good or bad − are the legitimate executors of the people’s will.

Thus the left’s recurring fantasy is the de Gaulle fantasy − a high military officer will emerge from the right and steal the right’s votes, betray the right and carry out the left’s ideology. Thus the left’s deep desire is to find the Israeli Sissi who will make the Israeli Morsi disappear and force on the simpleton masses the enlightenment they cannot choose by themselves.

This is exactly why the 2011 social protest was stolen. Because no general was found two years ago to implement the Rothschild rebellion as Sissi implemented the Tahrir rebellion, and because the Israeli rebels didn’t know how to implement their rebellion in a democratic manner.

While the protest marches were impressive, their translation into partisan politics was miserable. After years of degeneration, enlightened Israeli society has lost the ability to act within the parameters of democracy and absorb the principle of majority rule. It no longer knows how to love the people, talk to the people and respect the people’s decisions.

So anyone still hoping for a profound change in Israel must understand now that no enlightened general will rescue us and no Sissi will do the work for us. We will have to perform the work of change ourselves, by persuading the free, sovereign Israelis among whom we live.

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