Opinion |

The High Court Held Up a Mirror to Our Faces. This Is What We Look Like

yossi klein
Yossi Klein
Israelis watch the High Court of Justice debate whether Benjamin Netanyahu can form a new government despite the criminal charges against him, Jerusalem's Rose Garden, May 3, 2020.
Israelis watch the High Court of Justice debate whether Benjamin Netanyahu can form a new government despite the criminal charges against him, Jerusalem's Rose Garden, May 3, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
yossi klein
Yossi Klein

It’s not an earthquake. We’ve already been warned about the “processes” infecting Israeli society. They’ve eaten into the foundations like termites. We heard the rustling and turned to the other side. This isn’t happening to us, we assured one another. Then one day we woke up, and the house was collapsing. The processes had advanced and reached the High Court of Justice.

“You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you,” wrote Margaret Atwood. This week a few more chunks of sky descended. The High Court put a mirror in front of us, which reflected the countenance of a state going through a process. Now we are prepared to install a criminal at the helm of our state. This is what we look like.

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The High Court isn’t responsible for improving our ugly face, only for reflecting it. We look the way the court says we look. “The voters’ will,” from its perspective, is even stronger than equality before the law, which isn’t mentioned in any law. Democracy is not on its agenda. No one ever asked us if we even wanted democracy. We don’t even know what it is exactly. As far as we’re concerned, it could be an empire here.

All that we know about democracy can be summed up by the phrase “the majority rules.” We threw the rest into the trash. And what will happen if the majority gets sick of democracy? Then there won’t be a democracy here. In a democracy, the Knesset – the legislative branch – oversees the cabinet – the executive branch. But not here. We have two branches welded to one another, and they cannot be separated.

The High Court doesn’t owe anything to democracy. It doesn’t appear in any clause of any law, or even in the Declaration of Independence. And what if they say that we aren’t a democracy? So what? No law forbids us from calling ourselves that.

In the eyes of the High Court, morality and fairness are “politics.” It doesn’t care about being irrelevant, about pondering the theoretical question of whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can detach himself from appointments connected to his trial, and Justice Minister Amir Ohana hears this and bursts out laughing. The court even philosophized about the separation of powers, as if there won’t be 51 ministers and deputy ministers who will connect the branches to each other with superglue.

The legislative branch is meant to represent the will of the voters, but whom do the lawmakers really represent? It depends when you ask them and who spoke to them immediately before you. After all, everyone knows that you can buy them off with a couple of shekels.

The High Court gave them respect that wasn’t due, but it was also the first to identify that we are experiencing the start of the virus of totalitarianism.

This virus is age-old and experienced. There’s a vaccine for it, but it won’t help us. We won’t develop immunity, even if they inject equality before the law into our veins. It’s too late, we’re already infected and the virus has spread. It settled in the territories, undermined the educational system and will now get the High Court’s seal of approval.

We dealt with the coronavirus and even learned from it to be skeptical and not believe those who seize control of the screen and the microphone.

Illustration.Credit: Eran Wolkowski

George Orwell called them “members of the Inner Party.” Who’s in the Inner Party? Ask Sarah and Yair Netanyahu. The Inner Party knows everything that we needed to know and they hid from us. Only Inner Party members know why we didn’t do enough testing, why the assisted living facilities were neglected, or why parks remained closed while IKEA was allowed to reopen.

The Inner Party knows everything about us and doesn’t want us to know anything about it. It’s suspicious. It has turned our beloved cell phones into informants. Today it is monitoring us for health reasons. Tomorrow it will be just so we don’t get any wrong ideas.

It would be good for the coronavirus to circulate a little more around here. When the coronavirus is in the field, the unemployed are on edge. Let the emergency situation continue forever; there might be a few demonstrations here and there that will photograph well, but things will calm down and the people will be silenced.

Will they call that a dictatorship? Excuse me, let’s phrase this differently: Everything will remain in its place. The cabinet, the Knesset, the state comptroller and the High Court of Justice – everything will look legal and normal. But if we will look carefully, we’ll find that there’s nothing there, that it’s all cardboard scenery. The High Court will approve the contemptible. After all, an enemy that we haven’t seen since the Middle Ages is waiting in ambush to destroy us: A fourth election!

It’s not so terrible. Turkey also has a government like that. Hayim Nahman Bialik said that only when there will be Jewish thieves and Jewish prostitutes will we be like the other nations. Thieves and prostitutes we have, a rapist president we’ve had, and we will now also have a criminal prime minister.

There’s nothing left for us to do but sigh in relief; there, we did it. We’re like all the other nations.

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