Opinion |

The Israeli Opposition Must Follow This Model's Lead

Martin Luther King once said, 'The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.' We must not find ourselves there

Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
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Actress and TV personality Rotem Sela in August 2017.
Actress and TV personality Rotem Sela in August 2017.Credit: Shay Yehezkel
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak

This is a time in which all of us are being tested. Jewish, Zionist and democratic Israel is facing danger from determined forces that are seeking to distort it. Three draft indictments have been prepared against a man suspected of criminal acts – of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

In an attempt to save himself, this same individual is trying to destroy the foundations of democracy, the judicial system, the prosecutor’s office, the police and the Supreme Court – everything that is basic to a democracy.

He is doing this in concert with messianic-racist extremists who also wish to destroy the law, civil society and everything that is self-evident from Israel’s egalitarian Declaration of Independence, in an effort to impose their messianic-racist and anti-democratic vision.

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While doing this, he is forsaking the country’s citizens, robbing them of what they have accomplished through their talents and hard work and of the resources they would need to provide an education and opportunity to every child, an affordable home to working couples and medical care and a life of dignity to the elderly who have built what we have.

He is stealing all of this and giving it to the extremists and to his own associates.

History has taught that when people in power attempt to trample democracy and citizens’ fundamental freedoms, there are only two options: either fighting and putting an immediate halt to it, or being doomed to years of darkness. It is therefore our obligation to fight – certainly until the April 9 Knesset election – so we know that we have done everything possible for a Zionist and democratic vision of the State of Israel to emerge the winner.

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To do so all the parties of the center-left, and first of all Kahol Lavan, must shift gears, climb into the political boxing ring and confront directly – from up close – the wounded and vulnerable leader who went bad, but who will cross any line to spare himself from having to pay the price of the disgrace. To take the battle into the opponent’s territory, to attack the distortion of Judaism and Zionism caused by the racists and Kahanists who are wagging like the tail of a dog under suspicion. To strike and take blows without bending, until the day of victory.

Within the sea of words and video clips the public, with its healthy senses, can identify the ones who more determined to win, and is drawn to them. I believed in and worked for an even broader gathering of forces, but given the situation that has emerged, uniting behind a goal and preventing infighting among the different elements of the center-left is essential. This is the role of the leaders of the bloc, and on this they will be judged.

This week, Naftali Bennett tied the threat of Hamas to the threat of the High Court of Justice, and Benjamin Netanyahu moved heaven and earth for the Kahanists. It was Netanyahu who spoke of Bezalel Smotrich as education minister and of Itamar Ben-Gvir as a member of the Judicial Appointments Committee. This is an internal danger to our existence, more serious than any other danger.

I do not take any danger lightly. I spent most of my life facing dangers from the outside. This is a political struggle, but at the same time a moral struggle. Martin Luther King once said, “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” We must not find ourselves there.

For this reason, every citizen must act in the spirit of President John Kennedy: Not to ask what another person or party can do or not do, but to do what one can – volunteer, write articles, put up signs, demonstrate, persuade, everyone according to their abilities.

Be Rotem Sela, Gal Gadot or Eyal Waldman. Because when the corrupt government that looks out for itself endangers the achievements of Zionism, this is the time to fight and to act.

This is a time of struggle. It’s still not too late. We can and we must win.

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