Hysterical Knesset Legislation Is the Harbinger of Total Chaos

It’s frightening to see a society that removes the masks from itself and exposes its ugliness. Now's the time to start a genuine struggle over our image.

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on November 16, 2014.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on November 16, 2014.Credit: AFP
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

Finally the proper outfit has been found to suit the real measures of our lady, the State of Israel. The Jewish nation-state law is not the law after which “we won’t recognize ourselves,” as Yossi Sarid maintained by in his column in Haaretz, but it will actually be the law through which we will have the privilege of really knowing ourselves.

The time has come for us to understand that not every body, whatever its measurements might be, can be clothed in the values of democracy and equality. A state that wants to boast of those values must conduct a life fully committed to preserving them. Therefore, with all the pain involved in the bureaucratic ritual of erasing “equality” from our ID, we should be pleased that at least we’ll stop lying to ourselves and to the world, and we’ll be able to begin a genuine struggle over our image.

It’s frightening to see a society that removes the masks from itself and exposes its ugliness, but we must not confuse law with order: The methodical behavior of the state, which is manifested in hysterical legislation and in reinforcing its military and police presence, is evidence of the beginning of total chaos, a general system collapse.

The Jewish fundamentalism that has taken over the state has nothing to do with religious faith – the proof is that the ultra-Orthodox Jews are not part of it; the hawkish nature of the government is not supported by the defense establishment – the proof lies in the voices of its senior officials who are speaking out against it (Yuval Diskin, Yoram Cohen, Shabtai Shavit, Amos Yadlin, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino); and of course, the coalition – whose only accomplishment is the fact that it was formed, and whose members are addicted to the toxic glue that binds them.

Society itself also looks as though it has lost all restraint. It’s particularly interesting to see how overnight MKs and ministers from the extreme right become the object of the hatred that they themselves disseminated, in the rare instances when they adopt a different language, for example when they protested against the dismissal of Arab workers in Ashkelon.

Israel is also ignoring the possibility that the world will turn against it. The special and protective attitude toward Israel is not only the product of vested interests, it is connected to the history of the world’s relationship with the Jews. But if Israel continues to follow its present path and registers a new category of neo-democratic oppression in its name, the world will not hesitate to ostracize it.

The European countries are already in a process of recognizing the Palestinian state and are beginning to consolidate sanctions against Israel. And United States President Barack Obama, despite his defeat in the midterm elections and perhaps because of it, has nothing left to loose; in other words: He is free. That’s why he is allowing himself to grant legal status to millions of immigrants, and that’s why it isn’t improbable that he will decide to remove the American veto, which checks any initiative to place a limit on Israel’s whims. America sent the first signals of that when it expressed reservations about the nation-state law.

“We have to do something, guys,” says one of the characters in Jorge Semprun’s book “The Long Voyage.” Semprun, a Spaniard who was exiled to France with the rise of Franco, and after France was occupied by the Nazis fought in the ranks of the Maquis (the resistance), was arrested and sent to Buchenwald. His book describes the experience of the journey there on a train with 120 political prisoners. “I don’t see what can be done except to wait, to shrink inside yourself, to survive,” replies another character.

It seems that here in Israel, too, there are people who don’t understand what can be done except to shrink. They would do well to remember what Semprun says: “There will always be someone who will take matters into his hands when the situation becomes unbearable, there will always be a voice rising from among all the anonymous voices which triggers the dormant forces. When that voice is heard, and it always will be heard, immediately the featureless and random gathering of human creatures will discover a hidden structure, desires that can be used ... and such a voice will always be heard.” It will yet be heard in Israel too.

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