Netanyahu Is Faking Democracy, So We Must Fight for It

What more needs to happen for our economic freedom fighters to understand that Netanyahu and the extreme right have emptied democracy of its values?

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, not seen, in Jerusalem, Wednesday, March 25, 2015.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, not seen, in Jerusalem, Wednesday, March 25, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

“The time has come for the center-left to adopt a completely different agenda ... to abandon wonderful ideals that are no longer attainable,” writes Ram Fruman. What are these wonderful ideals? Ending the occupation and peace with the Palestinians.

The election proved once again for Fruman that “the weak and people living in the country’s outskirts” are not a partner to this bloc’s wonderful ideals. Thus all that is left is to gather inside our ideological borders; that is, our socioeconomic borders (Tel Aviv and its northern suburbs, Haifa, Modi’in and the kibbutzim), because, as Fruman puts it, “Sadly, economically too we must first take care of our own interests.”

The fight against the occupation, so it seems from Fruman’s piece, is part of the agenda that a person, or a bloc, adopts or abandons depending on his mood. And a worldview is described in his column as if it’s just a salad to be put together at a salad bar.

Furthermore, two tiny details have been left out of Fruman’s article: Do the subjects of the western coastal region canton — or however they choose to call themselves — intend to serve in the Israel Defense Forces? Do they plan to continue paying taxes? And what on earth is the significance of this declaration other than an attempt at moral separatism from the (future) crimes of the state?

Fruman proposes that the losers of the recent election adopt the strategy of a political minority. It seems that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasn’t clear enough concerning his view of Jewish democracy as a form of government that not only isn’t committed to protecting minorities, it fights against them.

Does Fruman think it’s a coincidence that even before the new government has been formed, its “natural partners” have already agreed to promote the “Jewish nation-state law” and the law restricting the funding of nonprofit organizations?

What more needs to happen to make him and the rest of the (economic) freedom fighters understand that Netanyahu and the extreme right have emptied democracy of its values and left it as a mere procedural mechanism letting them act against democratic values — while nonviolently reining in their opponents? The camp that lost now follows the rules of the game that are still valid only in their heads.

In other words: Who will respect you as a minority at all? What real content is there to the term “minority” in a country that scorns the values of democracy in front of the public and the entire world?

After all, existence as a minority can serve as a protected political platform from which it’s possible to grow, only in a framework committed to protecting the minority. Netanyahu and the extreme right won the election via fraud not because they committed fraud in the polling booths but because they committed fraud regarding the meaning of the word democracy. So now either we fight for the country’s democratic character, or we don’t fight.

Fruman is lucky to belong to a large group (though not large enough, of course) of people who enjoy economic resources that allow them to close themselves off inside their neighborhoods and worry only about their own kind. But then we’re forced to ask, what kind of life is that?

And not only as an ethical question (which arises when a person decides to alienate himself from the society in which he lives and only worry about his own interests and those of his ilk). It’s also a practical question: Is it not just an illusion (even for those who think they enjoy financial security) that the possibility he describes in his article exists?

If Israeli democracy has really been emptied of its content and we are only in a battle of numbers lost in advance, at set times (every four years or so) imposing the will of the majority (whatever that will may be) — if that is so, then Israeli society — or at least the people that Fruman believes he’s speaking for — must reconsider what can be done.

Israelis always fight the wars they are called on to fight, and always with endless sacrifice and great courage. Now the question is, what will they be willing to fight for?

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